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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Green Building Green Building
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Santa Monica Public Library earned the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) Gold rating, awarded from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), for the City of Santa Monica. The Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System® has been adopted by the City as the basis of design for all of its new construction.The USGBC is a nationally recognized coalition working to promote environmentally responsible, healthy places to live and work.The LEED Gold rating is the second-highest achievable rating in the point-based rating system, and indicates the building has been independently certified to meet sustainable criteria as developed by the USGBC/LEED rating system.

The 104,000 square-foot Main Library opened in January 2006 to much community acclaim, attracting nearly 800,000 visitors in its first year of operation. The state-of-the-art Library is a model of a user-friendly, service-oriented, and flexible facility for the 21st century. It contains the latest in information technology,Wi-Fi access, three levels of subterranean parking and amenities such as public art, a bookstore, and a café. An open and naturally lighted interior environment takes advantage of the ideal Santa Monica climate. Gardens and a 10,000 square-foot central courtyard are landscaped with sustainable plantings.

Sustainable Library Brochure pdf


Environmentally-friendly highlights of the Main Library

Sustainable Site Planning

  • The Library site at Santa Monica Boulevard and Sixth Street was reused and redeveloped.
  • The Main Library is served by several Big Blue Bus and Metro bus lines and has bike parking.
  • 94% of Library parking is underground, which eliminates large, paved surfaces exposed to sunlight.
  • The building’s Energy Star™ roof is treated to reflect sunlight, reducing the heat island effect which contributes to higher summer temperatures and smog.
  • An approved erosion-control plan was implemented during construction.

Water Management & Conservation

  • The 200,000-gallon cistern under the building holds and filters rainwater runoff from the roof, and parking lot, keeping it from overburdening the storm water system. A drip-irrigation system uses the cistern water to irrigate the landscaped garden areas. This system accounts for a 31% reduction of stormwater runoff, and a 50% reduction of potable water use for irrigation.
  • The plants and trees surrounding the Library were chosen because they lend themselves to water conservation and a reduced need for pest control and maintenance.
  • Low-flow restroom faucets and urinals conserve water.

Energy Efficiency & Building Atmosphere

  • No ozone-depleting CFC or HCFC-based refrigerants are used in the building’s heating and cooling systems.
  • The building is 30% more energy efficient than one built to meet local energy codes. This is achieved through improved wall and roof insulation, efficient lighting with occupancy sensors, a high efficiency variable-speed electrical chiller, and a variable speed chilled water pump.
  • Solar electric panels are installed on the roof to generate renewable energy for the building.
  • All City buildings are powered by 100% renewable energy purchased under contract.

Conservation of Materials & Resources

  • LEED practices took place before the Library opened, including replanting trees formerly on the site and recycling demolished building materials.
  • Up to 98% of project construction waste was diverted from landfill.
  • More than 50% of building materials contain significant recycled content, including the carpet, terrazzo flooring, restroom tile, acoustical ceiling and wall panels, drywall, concrete, and the structural steel.
  • At least 20% of the building’s materials were manufactured locally.
  • More than 50% of the regionally manufactured materials were extracted, harvested, or recovered within 500 miles of the site.
  • Easily accessible areas throughout the building are designated for the separation, collection, and storage of materials for recycling.

Enhanced Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Smoking is not allowed inside the Library or on its grounds.
  • The parking structure is monitored for carbon monoxide levels and is designed to maintain levels that will sustain long-term occupant health and comfort, and save energy by optimizing ventilation effectiveness.
  • Fresh air is mixed into the mechanical system to support the health, safety, and comfort of people in the building.
  • A “raised” floor in most areas offers better under-floor air distribution throughout the Library.
  • All paint, adhesives, and sealants are low VOC (volatile organic compounds), containing few to none of the dangerous chemicals commonly found in these materials.
  • The City uses Green Seal cleaning chemicals to reduce toxicity and negative air quality impact.
  • “Walk-off” mats in entryways help prevent pollutants from being tracked into the library.
  • Temperature is controlled and monitored with the use of sensors throughout the building.
  • Many of the Main Library’s architectural features, including multiple entrances, the paseo, garden courtyards, windows, and the second level “belvedere” feature, enhance the connection between indoor and outdoor environments, providing 75% access to daylight in regularly occupied spaces and affording library visitors great views.
  • The extensive curtain wall window system provides a line of sight to windows from 92% of the regularly-occupied spaces.
  • The window covering system allows control over direct sunlight and helps reduce heat gain.
  • Windows in many office spaces are operable.
  photos: Amy Williams Photography

Public Education & Information

  • Library materials on subjects as diverse as interior design and architecture, sustainable landscaping and organic gardening, water conservation, sustainable living and social responsibility are available. Visit the Library for more information, or go to
  • In 2007, the Library launched the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature. The Green Prize was created to encourage and commend authors, illustrators, and publishers who produce quality books for adults and young people that make significant contributions to, support the ideas of, and broaden public awareness of sustainability.
  • The Library offers regular docent-led tours which cover all aspects of the building: the Library collections, history, art, architecture, and the sustainable features. Check the Calendar of Events for more information.
Moore Ruble Yudell
Landscape Architecht
Pamela Burton & Company
Structural Engineers
Nabih Youssef Associates
MEP Engineers
Syska Hennessy Group
General Contractor
Morley Builders
LEED Consultant
CTG Energetics
Project / Construction Management
City of Santa Monica Public Works, Civil Engineering and Architecture Services Divisions
Last updated: Tuesday, 11/11/2014

New Construction Guide (Updated 2020)

Download (pdf)

Energy Reach Code Cost Effectiveness Studies

 ZNE Cost Effectiveness Study
Download (pdf)

Green Leasing Guide

 Green Leasing Guide Cover Photo
This guide provides commercial tenants and property managers with an intro to green leasing, the value of green leasing, and the factors that go into deciding whether a green lease is the right fit.

Matrix 2.0 Alternative Water Guidelines 

 Matrix Document Banner
download (pdf)
New roadmap for decentralized, alternate water supplies - indoor and outdoor non-potable water regulations streamlined for rainwater, graywater, stormwater, blackwater use.

Solution Finding for Net Zero Water 

Sustainability experts from across the nation convened to explore statutory, technological, and engineering barriers to the widespread implementation of water recycling and reuse systems in commercial and residential buildings.
Net Zero Water Booklet
download (pdf)


City of Santa Monica © 2021

Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626