The building has many design elements and features to lessen its energy and environmental impact on our planet. Elements that contribute to making the design, building, and long-term use of the Central Library green and sustainable include:
- Sustainable site: Erosion and sedimentation control during construction; re-building on same site; located on major bus routes; bicycle parking spaces; landscaping and exterior design to reduce "heat island effect;" automatic lighting controls to reduce light pollution.
- Water efficiency: Approximately a quarter of plants drought-tolerant; water-efficient drip irrigation system; when possible, water comes from an on-site 38,500-gallon rainwater collection tank; interior water use reduced by metered faucets, no-flush urinals and efficient mechanical equipment.
- Energy and atmosphere: Building designed to outperform Seattle energy code by 10 percent; about half the glass used in the curtain wall is triple-glazed with an aluminum expanded metal mesh sandwiched between two panes to reduce heat buildup from sunlight; no chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants in air conditioning and no halon gases in fire suppression system; control systems meter HVAC systems, water usage and energy performance of the building.
- Materials and resources: Space designed into loading dock area to collect and store recyclables; more than 75 percent of demolition and construction waste was recycled; a significant amount of recycled material was used in construction; a minimum of 20 percent of the building products used in the Central Library were manufactured within 500 miles of Seattle, thus helping the local economy and reducing impacts of transporting materials long distances.
- Indoor environmental quality: Central Library meets or exceeds the standard American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers 62-1999, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality; smoking is not permitted in the building; carbon dioxide is monitored and is no higher than outdoor levels by more than 530 parts per million; a monitoring system automatically adjusts for thermal comfort; maximize daylight and views in 90 percent of all regularly occupied spaces.
- Innovation and Design Process: LEED™ stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council to determine the degree of green and sustainable design in a building project. The project achieved an exemplary level of the use of recycled materials and was awarded a silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.