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City library going green with help from NMSU's College of Engineering

Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, the main library for the City of Las Cruces, is working with New Mexico State University to implement pollution prevention and energy efficiency strategies to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce facility costs.

Chris Campbell, pollution prevention program manager, uses one of the recycling receptacles at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library. (Photo by Khushroo Ghadiali)

Chris Campbell, program manager for the NMSU WERC consortium for environmental education and technology development, recently met with library administrator Lynette Schurdevin to discuss forming a Green Team and other recommendations for the library.

Green Teams facilitate and measure environmental efforts in their workplace, using Environmental Management System plans. For the past three years, one such team has been in place at the Munson Senior Center, the hub of the city of Las Cruces' senior programs, and has produced significant cost savings. Campbell has worked with the Munson Center Green Team as part of the statewide mission of the pollution prevention resource center he manages for WERC under the NMSU College of Engineering. It is hoped that green efforts at the library can produce similar reductions in cost and waste.

Schurdevin and Campbell met in November and discussed steps already taken at the library, which included recycling efforts and a water use audit previously performed by the city. Schools and libraries, Campbell explained, have their own unique waste streams.

The staff currently recycles cardboard, paper, plastic and cans; discarded books are taken to NMSU for re-use or disposal; shredded paper goes to the city's animal shelter for bedding; and discarded eyeglasses are collected for the Lion's Club, as are used batteries. All recyclables are transported to the city recycling center. Weeded books are given to the Friends of the Library to sell in their bookstore, where the proceeds are used for additional or special library items. Gradually, the library is installing energy efficient light bulbs, while used fluorescent bulbs are transported to the city's bulb crusher.

Modified working hours at the library also have reduced energy use.

The next steps for the library will be to verify the use of green cleaning products by the janitorial staff, and completely replace all incandescent light fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs. The team will track waste streams and related cost-savings at the facility and quantify the results of their efforts.

For more information on forming a Green Team, and other pollution prevention and energy efficiency resources, visit http://ieenmsu.org/programs/pollution-prevention-programs-p2/ or contact Campbell at 505-843-4251 or chriscam@nmsu.edu.