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National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh

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The National Library of Scotland, an estate of nine premises in Edinburgh and Glasgow, preserves the memory of the nation with collections that span centuries. Covering all aspects of human endeavour from the earliest times to the digital age, you are as likely to find an ancient manuscript as an archived movie amongst the vast collection of more than 27 million items. 50% of the estate’s total internal floor area (38,520 square metres) is dedicated to environmentally controlled storage of these collections.

In 2009 the Scottish Government set out legislation to drive public bodies to reduce their carbon emissions by 42% by 2020. A growing societal awareness of the impact of carbon emissions and ever-increasing energy costs lead a group of public bodies, including the National Library of Scotland, to start monitoring data captured from their utilities, transport and waste facilities. These monitoring efforts became part of a Carbon Management Plan, facilitated by the Carbon Trust, which has allowed the National Library of Scotland and other public bodies to continue delivering effective sustainability projects.

The Library collections are irreplaceable and thus during project implementation key considerations were made for maintaining suitable temperatures, humidity levels, interoperability with existing building management systems, and retaining the building aesthetics. Many smaller sustainability enhancements were made over an extended timeframe because of the limited funds available.

Headline projects

  • Creation of a Library Environmental Energy Platform – this was designed to be a real-time energy management system to replace and enhance the existing Building Energy Management System. It uses the Internet of Things to deliver data across the library. The legacy controllers that coordinated the building’s technical systems were replaced as they were unable to support new environmental and energy improvements and were no longer supported by the manufacturer.
  • Infrastructure upgrades for environmental control – these included replacing chiller and boiler systems, desktop computers and low efficiency pumps, motors and controls. This suite of upgrades also involved improving the building fabric, installing utility metering/sub-metering and demand-based controls for heating and cooling. Free heating was obtained by using waste heat from the cooling plant.

The Library worked with Craigalan Control Systems Ltd to implement the projects, who brought innovative ideas and cutting-edge technology. The Library is also grateful for the significant and ongoing contributions made by Heriot Watt University.

These upgrades enabled the Library to surpass the Scottish Government reduction targets set for greenhouse gas emissions (50%) and energy consumption (42%) during 2017-18, three years earlier than required.

The headline figures reported during 2019-20 speak for themselves. Against the baseline consumption figures set during 2008-9, greenhouse gas emissions fell by 70%, energy consumption by 51%, and the overall savings to date are £2.9 million.

The National Library of Scotland has received numerous accolades by championing green projects and behaviours. It has become a Resource Efficiency Ambassador for Resource Efficiency Scotland, and received the Platinum award for energy savings projects from the Sustainability Scottish Network. In 2018 the Library was shortlisted for the Environmental Award by the Energy Institute. A year later it was shortlisted in two categories at the National Premises and Facilities Management awards, winning the Partners in Smart FM and the Overall winner awards.

A spokesperson from the organisation summarises the impact of the projects on the wider community, saying that “with teamwork and perseverance, involving all departments across the Library, we have, and are, creating sustainable environments that visitors can enjoy, staff can work in, and where collections will be secure for future generations”.

Education/Arts
Energy efficient heating system (non-renewables)Heat recovery systemHeating control / zone controlIT systemsRefrigerationVoltage optimisation
HeatingLightingLow carbon heatingMeasuring and monitoring
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