Incorporating renewable energy sources can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as saving libraries and their patrons money. Across Georgia, several public libraries have invested in renewable energy through partnerships or grant funding.
Georgia Power brings electric vehicle charging to Oakland Library
Georgia Power launched electric vehicle (EV) chargers at the Oakland Library in Lee County, Georgia, in August 2021, as part of a statewide initiative to enable EV adoption and connect communities. “As an information center that is constantly evolving to include new technologies for the community inside and outside its walls, the library is proud to be a part of Georgia Power’s network of safe, reliable and convenient charging infrastructure,” said Library Director Claire Leavy.
The installation represents the newest technology in EV fast chargers. A vehicle can charge enough to go 100 miles from a 12-minute charge while charging at 125 kW.
“EV charging stations at libraries make so much sense,” said State Librarian Julie Walker. “While the vehicle is charging, patrons can use library computers to check email or maps, and check out books for the family. As more manufacturers make electric vehicles, the demand for charging stations will only grow, and libraries are a logical location in many communities.”
Braselton Library EV chargers funded through a grant
The Braselton Library installed electric vehicle charging stations back in 2018, courtesy of a grant awarded to the Town of Braselton. The chargers made sense locally, because the town has a wide path for golf carts to be driven from neighborhoods to retail buildings, restaurants, and offices in the Highway 211 area. The town also is located near the Panoz car company, which is building the first all-electric road-racing sports car.
“We have actually gained patrons because of the charging stations,” said Lori Hayes, library manager. “One frequent user came to us instead of another library closer to his house because we had the chargers.”
Athens incorporates EV chargers and a solar garden
Two electric vehicle charging stations were installed at Athens-Clarke County Library in 2015. They are part of a network located throughout the county at parks and public parking decks that was funded by a grant from the Charge Georgia program and rebates from Georgia Power. The library’s central location makes it a convenient spot for residents who need to charge their electric cars. The charging stations complement the library’s 2013 silver LEED-certified renovation. Cars charging as their drivers spend time inside the library are a frequent sight.
The library also has a unique solar garden installation through a $100,000 grant from EBSCO Information Services to reduce environmental impact and electric costs. This solar installation was completed in 2018 with technical assistance from the Athens-Clarke County Sustainability Office. The installation features two fixtures that provide energy to the library facilities, including one that follows the movement of the sun. The solar garden is a useful and educational experience that demonstrates that just as plants get their energy from the sun, so can we. The library has a touch-screen kiosk, where visitors can monitor the garden’s energy output.
Solar panels provide free electricity in Hog Hammock
One of Georgia’s most unexpected libraries sits about 20 minutes off the southeast coast on Sapelo Island, a state-protected territory only accessible by ferry boat or aircraft. At the center of the island’s Hog Hammock community sits a small, blue, former two-room schoolhouse: the Hog Hammock Public Library.
In 2019, the library installed solar panels that provide electricity. Tim Echols, vice chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, was instrumental in this project by engaging the Hog Hammock Foundation and several community partners to build the solar pavilion and install the 16 panels. The installation will provide free electricity to the library for the next 30 years.
“Helping libraries save money on their power bills in poor areas of our state like the Sapelo branch makes them more sustainable,” said Tim Echols.
For other libraries considering solar power, Echols has this advice: “Libraries that have a fairly new roof or an outside gazebo or pavilion are great candidates for solar panels. By placing solar on libraries, we are helping patrons learn about renewable energy and its benefits for the building and the grid,” he said.
Patrons across Georgia can save money through the Kill-A-Watt meter loan program
All Georgia library patrons can check out a Kill-A-Watt meter from any public library for two weeks. Simply plug appliances and electronic devices into the meter instead of the wall outlet directly. By doing so, the device shows how many kilowatt hours that particular appliance or electronic device uses, whether it is switched on, running, idle, or in stand-by mode. This allows patrons to determine the dollar amount it costs to keep that particular appliance or device plugged in. Over the years the Kill-A-Watt meter has been available in libraries, residents have saved more than $70,000 in the purchase price of a meter and additional thousands off annual electric bills.