Berkeley Public Library, West Branch

1125 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA

  • Architect: Harley Ellis Devereaux | GreenWorks Studio
  • Developer: City of Berkeley
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West Berkeley Library from University Avenue
Credit: Mark Luthringer

California's first net-zero-energy library in 2014 produced more energy than it used.

This 9,400 sf library, with tall reading rooms infused with daylight, demonstrates that net-zero-energy goals can be cost-effectively met while creating an inspiring public place. The building boasts carefully oriented skylights with sloping sides, channeling light into the space; adjacent photovoltaic arrays power the building and pump excess energy into the grid.

To meet budget targets, the structure was designed with a wood frame bearing on a shallow mat foundation, which in turn has a deep, turned down perimeter that isolates internal soils from seasonal moisture fluctuations. The south façade is graced with a trellised entryway and large south-facing windows, while concealing a solar chimney behind its parapets. Wood-detailing was carefully designed to support this complex geometry.

The project received the 11th Biennial Award for Design Excellence from Berkeley Design Advocates in early 2015, and was recognized in 2016 as an AIA COTE Top Ten Green Project.




Executed as Tipping Mar