Tutt Library renovations pushed to net zero emissions

As plans for Colorado College’s new Tutt Library materialize, sustainability groups around campus have been pushing for a building with net zero emissions.

Last Spring, the Campus Sustainability Council (CSC) wrote a resolution announcing their support for a net zero library, urging that President Jill Tiefenthaler and the Board of Trustees align plans for this project with the school’s 2020 carbon neutrality goals.

“A net zero library is important for many reasons,” said Ian Johnson, the Campus Sustainability Manager. “We need to make sure that our goals and plans don’t detract from one another, and a net zero library supports our Strategic Plan, our Campus Master Plan, and our Carbon Neutrality Commitment.”

Although it is still unclear whether the Board of Trustees will approve a plan for the net zero plan, feedback has been generally positive. The President’s Office has recognized and generally supports the CSC’s Resolution.

One of the barriers for the progression of a net zero plan is the initial additional cost, even though the cost should be paid back in the first several years of operation. Additionally, the building will be much more efficient and likely to generate energy and payback if it is built to be carbon neutral from the beginning.

“When you build integral building systems, it becomes much easier than if you design a ‘traditional’ building and then try to add compensatory systems later,” said Johnson.

At this point, the additional cost of making the library carbon neutral is about 1 percent of the $45 million project.

The project will be net zero through generating all of the electricity needed to power the building while contributing excess heat to nearby Barnes Science Center.

Discussions about the new library have been happening for the last year and a half. Throughout the brainstorming period, the CSC’s stance on the plan has been clear.

“Net–zero buildings are not a brand new concept, and coinciding with our Strategic Plans and Master Plans, this was an obvious place to build an incredibly high-performance building that reflected our values,” said Johnson.

This year, the CSC hopes to adopt a more significant role on campus, and already the CSC’s support for a carbon neutral building made a powerful statement.

“As an advisory council with over 50 members broadly representing campus, [the CSC’s resolution) showed in no uncertain terms that there was broad campus support for such a building, and Jill takes that to heart,” said Johnson.

In addition to leveraging the power of the CSC, the Office of Sustainability is also hoping to make the Office and the Council more accessible to the entire CC community.

The Office of Sustainability will be starting an office hours program this year, where interns for the office will be available to chat with anyone interested in the library project or any other aspect of sustainability.

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