Lake View Terrace Library

There's more to check out at this eco-friendly library than books. One of the newest branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system achieved a Platinum rating that's the highest one possible from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

Made of recycled building materials, the library features airfoil sunshade awnings on the north and south sides that block direct sunlight but maintain a draft that vents the building wall.

Solar panels, when installed on the roof, will generate electricity. The library's floors are made of bamboo, a fast-growth wood that is more environmentally sustainable to produce than typical hardwood flooring.

The carpets were made with recycled materials, and without noxious gases. Automatic motorized windows allow warm air inside to escape and bring cool outside air into the building, reducing the use of air conditioning and electricity.

Toyota U.S. Headquarters
Toyota wants to be the most environmentally conscious automobile manufacturer both with its vehicles and its facilities.

The Japanese carmaker was to true to that vision with the recent completion of its U.S. headquarters in Torrance. The 624,000-square-foot campus of three buildings was the largest private facility to achieve a LEED Gold certification.

Landscaping is comprised of native and drought-tolerant species to meet the goal of reduced irrigation. Drip irrigation and the use of recycled water cuts the campus' demand by more than 50 percent.

Approximately 80 percent of all building materials used in construction contained recycled content; landscapes utilized recycled plastic edging and lumber. Structural and reinforcing steel used on-site was made almost entirely from recycled automobiles.

Concrete casting slabs for the "tilt-up" concrete walls were ground up and reused to build parking lots. The larger pieces were later recycled as accent paving at the outdoor courts, the joints filled with either decomposed granite or groundcover planting.

Meanwhile, solar panels on the buildings' roof generate more than 530 kilowatts enough to power 500 homes a year.

Natural Resources Defense Council
When the NRDC was planning its regional office in Santa Monica, the environmental group built to the highest standards possible a Platinum LEED certification.

The building's water system uses drinkable water only where necessary; not for toilets or for watering plants. And the NRDC keeps demand on the water supply system low by reclaiming wastewater from showers and sinks, which is then used for landscaping and toilets.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures use 60 percent less water to operate than conventional fixtures. The building was designed to let natural sunlight pass into hallways and inner offices, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

Operable windows meet most cooling and fresh air needs. When the staff needs air conditioning, the building has a high-efficiency system that uses displacement ventilation to focus cool air where it is needed.

Rooftop solar panels produce 20 percent of the building's electricity. The rest of the electricity comes only from renewable sources.

More than 60 percent of the wood and lumber products used in the building are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

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