MOUNT VERNON, VA – The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon has been awarded a LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  The 45,000 square-foot Library, situated on 15 acres adjacent to Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, serves as both a safe haven for the first president’s books and letters, and a center for education about his leadership. The Library opened its doors to researchers on September 27, 2013.

“George Washington was a careful steward of his land,” said Mount Vernon president Curt Viebranz. “Mount Vernon today embraces the same outlook to minimize the environmental impact of its work. A dedicated team of professionals worked very hard to make Washington’s new Library a reality and we are proud to be the recipient of the LEED Gold Certification.”

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project. The Library exceeded the Gold certification threshold by three points.

The Library’s completed design minimizes the environmental impact of the development on the previously undeveloped historic site, establishes building energy and water use efficiency, includes regional materials, maintains indoor environmental quality for the end user, and integrates recycling programs and green cleaning principles into building operations.  The building envelope and systems design achieves a 28% improvement in energy efficiency from a baseline case.  The use of low flow fixtures contributes to a 45% total water savings. 

In addition, the Library’s building envelope, building systems, and site design accomplish the following that helped to acquire the LEED Gold certification:

  • To prevent erosion of the downstream receiving channels, bioretention basins located around the site were designed to reduce the post-development site runoff of storm water and remove total suspended solids before returning runoff storm water to the natural waterways. 
  • Established strict standards for tree preservation on site that contribute to the achievement of exemplary performance in preservation of open space. 
  • The location of the building is within one quarter mile of two bus stops, enabling the site to be accessible via the existing public transportation network.  Supports the use of alternative transportation with dedicated spaces for carpools and fuel efficient vehicles in the designed parking area. 
  • More than 75% of regularly occupied spaces are day-lit. Roller shades are provided for user controllability, while views to outside are provided for 90% of occupied spaces.
  • All spaces are provided with daylight and occupancy sensors to control lighting levels during and after occupancy in individual and group work spaces.
  • More than 75% of construction waste generated during building construction was diverted from landfills.
  • The Library management has written a green housekeeping policy, including a commitment to maintaining a building free of harmful chemicals and an educational/training component for maintenance staff and building occupants.
  • Mount Vernon has purchased renewable energy certificates to offset 75% of the Library’s electrical energy use.

With its latest initiative, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon is affirming its status as the preeminent center of learning about George Washington, his life, character of leadership, and legacy. In addition to safeguarding original books and manuscripts, the Library serves as a center for leadership, where scholars, influencers, and other luminaries come together to talk about the past as well as the future, inspired by Washington’s extraordinary life, achievements, and character.

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