Library Puts North Adams Ahead in Green Technology

By Tammy DanielsPrint Story | Email Story
The North Adams Public Library has been recognized by the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
NORTH ADAMS - Visitors to the North Adams Public Library may not have noticed the heavy clear-glass plaque hanging high outside the main entrance. Nestled under the roof and suspended by brass hooks, the glass plate announces that the library - the first in Massachusetts - is fully certified by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. It took about five years to get the certification, Librarian Marcia Gross told the City Council last week. The library was notified earlier this year that it had achieved the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design award. The council recognized the efforts of those involved in attaining it last week. The decision to go green was sparked by concerns over putting large heating and air-conditioning units on the roof when the library's $4.5 million addition and renovation was still in the planning stages. The library building committee looked at using geothermal heating, and turned to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for grant aid. To get the grant, a photovoltaic system had to be added, and "one thing led to another," said Gross. "It was a long process, a lot of documentation, to get the LEED certification," she said last week. "It was a big team effort by the architects, the contractors ... and all the people [council President Gailanne Cariddi] mentioned helped with this." The more than 10,000-square-foot addition to the 1865 building opened in 2005. Its green features include recycling and reusing building materials, water-free landscaping, energy-efficient lighting and windows, high-rated insulation, use of local labor and its central location. Low VOC, or volatile organic compound, materials were used in construction. (Some materials emit chemicals into the air during their "curing" process.) The LEED rating system is "the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings," according the Green Buildings Council Web site. The LEED designation is based on a point system. Ironically, the photovoltaic system didn't get any points because its output was too low. Of the MTC's $175,553 grant, the PV system received $122,887 - 90 percent of its cost. The balance went to the geothermal system, a set of looping pipes underground which use the earth to heat and cool the fluid flowing through them. According to the LEED case study of the building, the photovoltaic system's siting on the roof is too shady for it to reach its full potential - a sacrifice to maintain the building's historic character. "This building ended up using 30 percent less energy than what's considered a code minimum building," said Michael Tillou, a green building consultant on the project. "That's really remarkable because in the architecture and engineering field right now, there's a great push to make all buildings 30 percent better than the current code. North Adams is ahead of the curve. [You] already have one of these buildings - you're a leader in this." "It's a significant achievement for the library and everyone involved in this project," said Mayor John Barrett III.
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COVID Outbreak Hits North Adams Nursing Home; Health Officials Urge Vaccination

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Health officials are trying to determine if a significant outbreak of COVID-19 at a local nursing home is the highly transmissible Delta variant. 
 
North Adams Commons reported three vaccinated residents with infections as of Friday morning. The total is now 20 residents and two staff members, said Lisa Gaudet, a spokesperson for Berkshire Healthcare that operates the nursing home. Only one of those is unvaccinated, she said. 
 
The 119-bed skilled nursing facility is now closed to visitors and new admissions as health officials track down the source of the infection and determine if it's a variant. Gaudet said all residents and staff were being tested so the numbers may change. 
 
"Clearly we're hearing in the national and local news about variants that are creating these breakthrough cases," Gaudet said. "We benefited from this vaccination when we saw all of our infections go down ... So this is something that is obviously concerning to us."
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