by Jim Van Valkenburgh
The town of Peterborough, N.H. is celebrating the construction of its stunning new library. Founded in 1833, this is the first free tax-supported public library in the U.S.
During this massive renovation, only the classic 1890s library building was saved from the wrecking ball. This distinguished building was designed by a famous mechanical engineer, Robert Morison, who was born and raised in Peterborough but had come to national fame with offices in New York and Chicago. Removing the 1957 and 1977 additions provided plenty of area for a new, more usable design of the current era where libraries are places of information and social connections in a rural town.
Multiple goals were set for Ann Beha Architects of Boston. Among them were a well-lit, warm and welcoming building with separate spaces for adults and children, a 100-person meeting room and a sunny outdoor patio that would take advantage of the building’s setting beside the Contoocook River.
An old house containing the library’s used book store sits at the opposite end of the property. The rear portion was transformed into the library’s boiler room where a biomass boiler and chiller systems are located. These constitute a compelling innovation that could be used in buildings across New England: the use of a biomass boiler as the source of both heating and cooling.
Four buried insulated pipes run under the driveway to the new library: a pair of supply and return pipes for heated water and another pair for chilled water. These run to air handlers placed throughout the building for delivering heating or cooling, as needed.
How the system works: A Froling T4-150 dried wood chip boiler generates 190 degree hot water and stores it in a 600 gallon buffer tank. When an area of the library needs heat, circulators pull hot water from the tank and send it through the pipes to where it is needed. When an area requires cooling, hot water from the buffer tank is circulated through a Yazaki 10 ton absorption chiller which outputs chilled water to the library.
A large solar array was also installed on the roof of the new addition, with a capacity of 71 kilowatts.
A statement on the town’s website reads: “The people of Peterborough have continued to support and prioritize the first free tax-supported public library in the nation. The library remains as both a historic symbol of the town’s belief in free access to information and knowledge, and as a modern library with opportunities for connection and collaboration for years to come.”
Jim Van Valkenburgh is vice president of sales & marketing at Froling Energy.