Greenpoint Environmental Education Center at Greenpoint Library 2020-11-16T09:37:59+00:00

Project Description

Greenpoint Environmental Education Center at Greenpoint Library

Project Lead: Brooklyn Public Library
2014 Project Partners: Newtown Creek Alliance; Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning; North Brooklyn Neighbors (formerly Neighbors Allied for Good Growth); North Brooklyn Boat Club (formerly North Brooklyn Community Boathouse); NYC Department of Education Community School District 14 including: Francis Perkins Academy, John Ericsson M.S. 126, Automotive High School, P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont, P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry and P.S. 110 The Monitor School; Friends of Brooklyn Public Library – Greenpoint Branch; SolarOne; City University of New York’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform; Town Square; and Community Board One
2018 Project Partners: National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint Eco-Schools; North Brooklyn Neighbors; Newtown Creek Alliance; and North Brooklyn Boat Club
Project Location: 107 Norman Avenue
Total GCEF Funding: $5,152,343
2014 GCEF Grant: $5,060,791 2017 Budget Addition: $49,428
2018 GCEF Grant: $25,002 2019 Budget Addition: $14,400
2020 GCEF Grant: $2,722
Total Matching Contribution: $17,397,573
2014 Matching Contribution: $17,377,077 2018 Matching Contribution: $20,496
Project Completed: October 2020

In 2014, though a competitive process, the Brooklyn Public Library received a $5,060,791 GCEF grant (and provided $17,377,077 in matching funds) to renovate the Greenpoint Library to integrate state-of-the-art “green” features into the building and create an Environmental Education Center to serve – in partnership with local environmental groups and Greenpoint residents – as a hub for community-based environmental programs, exhibits, and information. Under the original plan, the GCEF grant was to fund designing and constructing an intensive green roof and a community composting space, replacing concrete on library grounds with native plant landscaping and permeable pavement, and the installation of high-efficiency HVAC and lighting systems and building management controls, water efficient plumbing systems and fixtures, rainwater harvesting and storm water runoff control systems, alternative energy systems such as solar arrays and wind turbines, and other environmentally-friendly features. In late 2015, the architecture firm Marble Fairbanks was selected for the project.

In early 2016, and in consultation with the project’s Community Advisory Committee, project managers determined that – due to cost factors and issues with age, condition, and configuration of the building’s current physical plant (i.e., HVAC, plumbing, etc.) – rebuilding the library was preferable to renovating the existing structure. Accordingly, it was decided to construct an entirely new building to replace the current library, with significantly more indoor and outdoor space for public programs and activities. GCEF-funded “green” building features and the Environmental Education Center contained in the original renovation plan were integrated into the new library design. Demolition of the existing library took place in September 2016 and on October 23, the Brooklyn Public Library held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site with local elected officials, members of the community, children from P.S. 34, and representatives of GCEF.

In 2017, through a competitive process, the Brooklyn Public Library was awarded an additional $49,428 to support the purchase of books for the new Environmental Education Center, including fiction, nonfiction books for children, teens and adults on topics related to the environment/nature, climate change and sustainability, and to fund a community oral history/scanning project that enabled community residents to share their personal narratives, as well as historic photographs, documents, memorabilia, and ephemera, that depict Greenpoint’s environmental history. The Greenpoint Environmental History Project, as it is known, is available on Tumblr, SoundCloud, iTunes, and the Brooklyn Public Library’s web page.

In 2018, through another competitive process, the Brooklyn Public Library was awarded $25,287 in further funding (and provided $20,496 in matching funds) to create lesson plans and toolkits for students to support environmental educational programming to be offered at the Greenpoint Library’s new Environmental Education Center. In addition, the grant enabled the library to obtain digital versions of documents related to the Newtown Creek oil spill cleanup and other local environmental issues; documents that were previously housed only as physical copies at the Greenpoint Library. The digitalization and placement of these documents on the Brooklyn Public Library’s website will make them more widely accessible to the community.

In 2019, the Brooklyn Public Library received an additional $14,400 to purchase additional books for the Environmental Education collection, and to enhance the library’s community oral history and scanning project.

In 2020, the Brooklyn Public Library was awarded an additional $2,722.00 in GCEF funds to expand community access to the neighborhood’s oral history and archive collection, and for the purchase of a Dobsonian reflector telescope to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming and children, teen, and adult astronomy education offerings at the Greenpoint Library. The funds also allowed for the purchase of a table-top kiosk, an iPad, and four sets of headphones, which will be used for the creation of a discovery station within the branch where patrons can listen to the oral histories and browse thru the historic items scanned as part of the Greenpoint Environmental History archive.

On October 20,2020, the Brooklyn Public Library held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, local elected officials, members of the community, and representatives from GCEF in attendance. That same day, the library opened to the public, albeit only for limited lobby service due to the constraints of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

At 15,000 square feet, the new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center doubles the size of the previous building and provides significantly enlarged indoor and outdoor spaces to house expanded library use, including the exploration of the environment. The library features external elements that interact with the natural world, including a gardened reading deck, windows that act as sun dials, and a 1,500-gallon cistern to collect rainwater for the rooftop demonstration garden. Inside, the library has distinct adult, young adult, and children’s reading rooms and collection spaces, and community areas for regular library programming as well as those supporting environmental education. Laboratory spaces for interactive science projects, a large community event space (which divides into two of the lab spaces), and small meeting rooms are distributed on the two main floors. Additional green features of the project include solar panels to generate clean, on-site energy, high-efficiency heating and cooling and LED lighting fixtures to reduce energy use, water-efficient plumbing and fixtures to reduce indoor water use, and porous pavement outside to capture stormwater. The library has already received LEED “gold” certification, with a higher level “platinum” designation still pending. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources.

The oral history and scanning project can be found at

The repository of remediation reports can be found at

The Greenpoint Library website can be found at

Above: Photos by Gregg Richards / Brooklyn Public Library.

  • Designed and constructed a new LEED Gold (potentially Platinum) certified library and environmental education center, with features that include:
    • A green roof with areas open to the public
    • Solar energy generation (and educational energy use tracking),
    • Rainwater capture and management, and associated horticultural space
    • Maximum use of natural daylight on the upper level and energy efficient lighting including LED lights and light sensors on the lower level.
    • Installation of energy efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment
    • Reduction of indoor and outdoor water consumption by using only WaterSense label low flow plumbing fixtures
  • Acquired 644 items for the environmental education collection, including fiction and nonfiction books for children, teens, and adults on topics related to the environment/nature, climate change, and sustainability.
  • Hired a part-time Outreach Archivist to coordinate and conduct community oral history/scanning events attended by 190 people, and resulting in 193 scanned items and collection of 68 oral histories.
  • Created a community archive of photos, ephemera, stories, etc. that depict the environmental history of Greenpoint available on BPL’s website, on SoundCloud and excerpts featured on BPL’s “Our Streets, Our Stories”
  • Created 12 environmental education plans for youth ages 0-18 that librarians can use to lead youth workshops on topics including recycling, water usage, solar power, pollution, composting, soil composition, and pollinator gardening.
  • Procured 425 digital versions of remediation reports from 20 Greenpoint construction projects, created a user guide to help the general public access reports on online, and created a system for managing remediation reports going forward to ensure the Brooklyn Public Library is housing a greater number of digitally-born materials and fewer hard-copy reports.
  • Purchased a table-top kiosk, an iPad, and four sets of headphones, which will be used for the creation of a discovery station within the library branch where patrons can listen to the oral histories and browse the scanned documents, photographs and other items collected for the Greenpoint Environmental History archive
  • Purchased a Dobsonian reflector telescope to be used for STEM programming in children, teen, and adult astronomy programs.

This Library Doubles as an Environmental Education Center (Next City, November 13, 2020)

Greenpoint’s New Public Library “Makes You Want to Move In” (Curbed, October 28, 2020)

Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center opens in Brooklyn (The Architect’s Newspaper, October 21, 2020)

Brooklyn’s newest eco-friendly library has a ton of fascinating hidden secrets (Time Out, October 21, 2020)

The Green New & Improved Greenpoint Library & Environmental Education Center Is Open (Bklyner, October 20, 2020)

New Branch of Brooklyn Public Library Puts the Green in Greenpoint (Spectrum News NY1, October 20, 2020)

Greenpoint Library Opens with Virtual Ribbon Cutting on Tuesday (Greenpointers, October 19, 2020)

New Environmentally Friendly Greenpoint Public Library Is Making Headway on Norman Avenue (Brownstoner, April 30, 2019)

Episode 2: Oil Spills and Moldy Paper (Borrowed podcast – Brooklyn Public Library, March 2019)

Contribute Your Memories of Greenpoint’s Natural Environment in Upcoming Library Project (Greenpoint Post, May 10, 2018)

Architecture in 2018: Look to the streets, not the sky (The Conversation, January 4, 2018)

Officials break ground for Brooklyn Public Library Greenpoint Branch (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 24, 2017)

Environmental Education at the Forefront of Groundbreaking for New Greenpoint Library (BKLYNER, October 24, 2017)

Groundbreaking, Reveal For New Brooklyn Public Library At 107 Norman Avenue, Greenpoint (New York YIMBY, October 24, 2017)

Greenpoint Library’s new eco-friendly building gets renderings (Curbed: New York, October 23, 2017)

New library to be built in Greenpoint (Real Estate Weekly, July 21, 2017)

Pics: Greenpoint Library Gets $15M Upgrade And New Environmental Center (Williamsburg Patch, July 5, 2017)

Greenpoint Library Closing at End of June for Year-Long Renovation (DNAinfo, June 13, 2017)

Excellence in Design Awards given to Bronx Zoo zipline, Far Rockaway streetscape (AM NY, May 11, 2017)

City Announces Winners of Annual Design Competition (Gotham Gazette, May 11, 2017)

NYC’s Awards for Excellence in Design winners emphasize resiliency post-Hurricane Sandy (Curbed: New York, May 11, 2017)

Bomb squad building, verdant library, and others score NYC design awards (The Architect’s Newspaper, May 11, 2017)

Four elegant and resilient Brooklyn spaces receive NYC’s Excellence in Design awards (Brooklyn Eagle, May 11, 2017)

Construction to Begin on New Greenpoint Library Later this Year (Queens Ledger, October 21, 2016)

Greenpoint library to renovate, add green spaces (Greenpointers, May 12, 2016)

Check Out Designs for the Brand New Library Coming to Greenpoint (DNAinfo, April 13, 2016)

LOOK: New Renderings of Future Greenpoint Library (Patch Williamsburg-Greenpoint, April 13, 2016)

Greenpoint Library Seeks Local Feedback on New Look (Greenpoint Gazette, October 21, 2015)

Standing O (Greenpoint): It’s a Green Plan (Brooklyn Daily, January 01, 2015)

Brooklyn Public Library Gets $5M for Environmental Education Center at Greenpoint Library (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 22, 2014)

Closing Bell: Greenpoint Library Gets $5M Grant to Build Environmental Center (Brownstoner, December 22, 2014)