Greenpoint Library Environmental Education Center 2021-10-05T15:49:26+00:00

Project Description

Greenpoint Library Environmental Education Center

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 Community Boathouse, formerly North Brooklyn Boat Club; Frances Perkins Academy; Automotive High School; John Ericsson M.S. 126; P.S. 110 The Monitor; P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry; and P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont; Friends of Greenpoint Library; Solar One; City University of New York’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform; Town Square; and Brooklyn Community Board One
2018 Project Partners: Greenpoint Eco-Schools; North Brooklyn Neighbors; Newtown Creek Alliance; and North Brooklyn Community Boathouse
Project Location: 107 Norman Avenue
Total GCEF Funding: $5,152,628
2014 GCEF Grant: $5,060,791 2017 Budget Addition: $49,428
2018 GCEF Grant: $25,287 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
2014 & 2018 Projects Completed: October 2020 2020 Project Completed: August 2021

In 2014, though a competitive process, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) was awarded a $5,060,791 GCEF grant (and provided $17,377,077 in matching funds) to renovate the Greenpoint Library branch with state-of-the-art green features and create an Environmental Education Center (EEC) 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 installing the following environmentally-friendly features: high-efficiency HVAC and lighting systems, building management controls, water-efficient plumbing and fixtures, rainwater harvesting and stormwater runoff controls, and alternative energy systems such as solar arrays and wind turbines. 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, the new building would have significantly more indoor and outdoor space for public programs and activities. The GCEF-funded green features and EEC contained in the original renovation plan were integrated into the new building design. Demolition of the existing library took place in September 2016 and a groundbreaking ceremony for the new library was held in October 2016.

In 2017, after a competitive process, BPL was awarded an additional $49,428 GCEF grant to support two further endeavors: (1) the purchase of books for the new EEC on topics related to the environment/nature, climate change and sustainability; and (2) a community oral history/scanning project that enabled community residents to share their personal narratives, as well as historic photographs, documents, memorabilia, and ephemera, depicting Greenpoint’s environmental history. The Greenpoint Environmental History Project is available on Tumblr, SoundCloud, iTunes, and BPL’s website.

In 2018, through another competitive process, BPL was awarded $25,287 in extra GCEF funding (and provided $20,496 in matching funds) to create lesson plans and toolkits for students to support the environmental educational programming to be offered at the EEC. 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 remediation documents on BPL’s website will make them more widely accessible to the community.

In 2019, BPL received an additional $14,400 from GCEF to purchase additional books for the EEC’s collection, and enhance the library’s community oral history and scanning project.

In 2020, BPL was awarded $2,722 more in GCEF funding to purchase a Dobsonian reflector telescope to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming, and astronomy education offerings at the Greenpoint Library. The funds also allow for expanded community access to the neighborhood’s oral history and archive collection through the purchase of a table-top kiosk, an iPad, and four sets of headphones as well as the transcription of the GCEF funded oral histories. These items comprise a “discovery station” at the library branch, where patrons can listen and browse through the Greenpoint Environmental History archive.

On October 20, 2020, the library opened to the public. At 15,000 square feet, the new Greenpoint Library and EEC 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 which can be expanded into a large community event space, 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, 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 received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED is an internationally-recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built to achieve energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and other environmental benefits.

For more information, visit Brooklyn Public Library – Greenpoint Library’s website:; for the repository of remediation reports, visit:; and for the oral history and scanning project, visit:

Above: Photos by Gregg Richards / Brooklyn Public Library.

  • Designed and constructed a new LEED Gold certified Brooklyn Public Library – Greenpoint Library Environmental Education Center (EEC), with features that include:
    • A green roof with areas open to the public
    • Solar panels with real-time energy-use and energy-generation display,
    • 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.
    • Energy-efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment
    • Reduction of indoor and outdoor water consumption by using only WaterSense-labelled, low flow plumbing fixtures
  • Acquired 644 items for the EEC collection, including fiction and nonfiction books on environmental topics for children, teens, and adults
  • Hired a part-time Outreach Archivist to coordinate and conduct community oral history/scanning events, which were attended by 190 people, and resulted in 193 scanned items and 68 oral histories.
  • Created a community archive of photos, ephemera, stories, etc. describing Greenpoint’s environmental history available on BPL’s website, on SoundCloud, and in excerpts featured on BPL’s “Our Streets, Our Stories”
  • Created 12 environmental education plans for librarians to 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 public access these reports online, and created a system for managing future remediation reports
  • Purchased a table-top kiosk, iPads, and four sets of headphones, which will comprise a “Discovery Station” within the library where patrons can listen to and browse the Greenpoint Environmental History archive
  • Created written transcripts of the GCEF-funded Oral History Project
  • Purchased a Dobsonian reflector telescope to be used for STEM programming in children, teen, and adult astronomy programs

Greenpoint Library is finalist in Fast Company’s 2021 Innovation by Design Awards (Brooklyn Paper, September 21, 2021)

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)