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White Tank Library and Nature Center Nabs LEED Platinum Cert



The White Tank Library & Nature Center was recently awarded LEED® Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for new construction.  White Tank is the first Arizona public library and the fourth library nationally to receive such a designation.


The Leadership in Energy and Environment Design certification program is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.  Platinum is the highest level of LEED certification.


“LEED Platinum Certification places us in elite company as a leader in designing and building an environmentally friendly facility.  More importantly, it demonstrates to our customers and the community that we are well aware of the benefits of creating a dual-use green space for learning and exploring books and nature,” said Harry R. Courtright, Maricopa County Library District director and county librarian.


Maricopa County District 4 Supervisor Max W. Wilson said, “It was important for us to find a balance between managing the cost of the project and creating a facility that met our green energy goals while serving the needs of our customers.  At a price tag of $8 million, this is a unique, affordable, family-friendly building for enjoying books, appreciating nature, and making wise use of natural resources.”  


“Not only is this a proud moment for our departments, it is a tribute to Maricopa County’s leadership which has placed a tremendous effort on the importance of green government projects in our communities,” added R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department director.  “The education components found throughout this project will enhance our efforts to teach the public about sustainable energy practices.”


The library and nature center is the gateway to the 30,000-acre White Tank Mountain Regional Park, 30 miles west of downtown Phoenix.  The 29,000 square-foot facility is flush with energy-saving features that produce 25% of its energy on-site via roof-mounted solar energy panels.  The building’s power is generated entirely from clean energy sources on a net-zero pollution basis.


Natural light pours in through windows that provide sweeping panoramic views, giving visitors a strong connection with nature.  These windows are high energy-efficient one-inch dual-pane insulated  units.  Sixteen-foot-long vertical shade fins and deep perforated metal overhangs self shade the building.


The building has an automated Mecho Shade system that automatically raises and lowers shades to adjust interior lighting levels.


Extensive insulation includes an R-30 foam roof with highly reflective coating that both insulates the building and reflects the sun’s light off the roof to reduce the heat island effect.  The building’s 12-inch-thick tilt-up concrete walls are backed with liquid air barriers and R-13 foil-faced batt insulation.


Water consumption is minimized as all plumbing fixtures are low-flow contributing to a 30% reduction of water consumption compared to a typical library.  The project uses low flow water closets, jet flush values, low flow lavatory fixtures, waterless urinals, occupancy sensors and aerators to create a combined savings of over 50,000 gallons of water annually.


The building’s tri-tone green exterior color blends exceptionally well with the surrounding flora.  The natural desert environment was seemingly undisturbed during construction and boasts salvaged and transplanted cacti, relocated indigenous trees, and strategically placed rockscapes for full effect.  Occasionally, area wildlife such as owls, hawks and deer nonchalantly wander by as if to offer their approval for a job well-done.


“The certification and ease of design and construction would not have been possible without the creative foresight and collaborative efforts of the Parks and Recreation Department, Mortenson Construction, contractor, and DWL, architect,” Courtright concluded.


White Tank Library is newest of 17 libraries operated by the Maricopa County Library District.  To learn more about the District’s library programs and services please visit





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