People Pleaser: Carmel Library Powers Up Reno with Renewable Solar

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People Pleaser: Carmel Library Powers Up Reno with Renewable Solar

Less than a week after the grand re-opening of the Carmel Clay Public Library and its director, Bob Swanay, is already looking forward to his next project: adding a solar array to the library’s roof.

“Sustainability has always been part of the library’s vision,” Swanay says. “Everything about the library has been re-imagined and that includes our approach to energy.”

Swanay was recruited to Carmel Clay to lead the redevelopment of the library in 2016. The library has called Main Street Carmel home since 1999. Due to population growth in the City of Carmel as well as dramatic advances in technology, how people consume media and energy costs, the library was in need of a refresh.

The redevelopment project started with an intensive visioning process that began in 2017. “Carmel Clay is the community’s library and we wanted to hear from the community what their wishes, issues and desires were,” Swanay explains. “We held many meetings with members of the community and our board of directors to get input on what our new library would be.”

The process concluded in 2018 when the new vision was presented to the public. Some of the highlights of the $40 million project included much larger community spaces for events and meetings, a greatly expanded digital lab, a dedicated teen space, café, an event lawn, and new parking garage and a second-floor skywalk into the library.

Then there were the sustainability improvements, starting with the library building itself. “We didn’t want to tear down the original building,” Swanay explains “Instead, we chose to modify and enhance the building’s visual aesthetics as well as its energy efficiency.”

Carmel Clay tapped Ratio Architects for the main library project. Ratio is the largest design firm in Indiana, a firm known for designing some of the most transformative large-scale projects in Indianapolis. Skillman Corporation was tapped as the construction manager with the Veridus Group serving as the library’s representative.

With energy sustainability as a priority, solutions were “baked into” the project from the beginning. The building was equipped with a new air handling system for more efficient heating, cooling and air circulation. All of the lighting was replaced with energy-saving LED lighting. Once the building renovation was done, focus would shift to installing a solar array to the roof. In addition to the positive environmental impact, generating its own solar power will help the library secure long-term control over their energy costs.

Carmel Clay’s green energy strategy fits right in with the City of Carmel’s reputation for prioritizing the environment. In 2021, the city commissioned solar arrays at two of its water and wastewater treatment facilities to reduce environmental impact and control energy costs. Carmel’s Solential Energy constructed both solar arrays. Find details here.

The addition of solar energy is a critical part of the library’s transformation. “We’re excited about the solar piece,” Swanay says. “We hope that our use of renewable energy sets a good example for our community.”

Solential Energy, working with engineering firm Telamon, was selected through an RFP process in July 2022 to construct the library’s roof-mounted solar array. When completed, the array will have 511 fixed solar PV panels that will generate 245.3kW DC of electricity. Construction will begin in early November with the solar array completed and providing power to the library by the end of the year. The solar solution will include a digital portal for library officials and Solential to remotely monitor the system’s energy production.

Solential President and CEO Jim Shaw, says there is a lot of pride among his team to be selected for the Carmel Clay solar project. “We founded Solential in Carmel in 2009 because of the quality of life here. To help our hometown move to renewable solar energy is a great way to pay it forward.”

As the engineering of the solar array is finalized, Swanay is busy welcoming the community to the new library. Since the re-opening, the library has welcomed an overflow of guests. Asked what his favorite aspect of the new Carmel Clay Public Library is, Swanay replied as any proud parent would:

“Picking what’s most exciting is like trying to pick a favorite child. I love everything about our new library—the teen area, the digital lab, the expanded programming spaces, our solar array—it’s all more than we imagined.”

Solential Energy partners with municipalities, schools, libraries, correctional facilities, water/wastewater treatment facilities, electric cooperatives, and others to solve energy challenges. Our goal is to make our customer more energy efficient and resilient, while delivering cost benefits and sustainability. To learn more about how we can help you, connect with Solential here.