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Green Efforts


Terrace Construction Photos (PDF 14 MB)
Educational Tour (requires media player)
List of Plants (PDF 11 KB)
Promoting Green at the NIH Library (PDF 270 KB)
Virtual Tour (requires media player)

The 4400-square-foot cement area adjacent to the NIH Library in Building 10 was transformed into a verdant, eco-friendly garden terrace. The terrace project won the HHS Green Champion Award for Sustainable Building Design (2009) and the Medical Library Association Green Project of the Year Award (2011).

The Green Terrace is an extension of the NIH Library facility and serves as an outdoor garden oasis for NIH staff and visitors. It provides a natural, relaxing setting for individuals and groups to retreat, read, reflect, and rejuvenate.

Green Roof and Plants

The terrace showcases several garden areas which are rooted in engineered soil. Some of the garden areas have green-roof-type plants such as sedums, while other areas look like a traditional garden with taller flowering plants. The walls surrounding the terrace are softened with several species of vines. The combination of vegetative walls, garden surfaces, and shade canopies helps to reduce the extreme temperatures in the summer. A water fountain provides ambient sounds.

Solar Energy

Solar panels were mounted on the roof just south of the terrace. They supply energy into the electrical grid to offset energy usage from the pump to the fountain and lights at night.

Water Management

Rain from a nearby roof gets stored on site in a 1200-gallon cistern. The recycled water irrigates the gardens and supplies the fountain. The cistern reduces the amount of water needed from the municipal water supply. The rainwater runoff is decreased by capturing water from the nearby roof and by absorbing moisture in the engineered soil. This provides a reduction in storm water runoff from the NIH campus, ultimately supporting water quality improvement and conservation goals for the broader Chesapeake Bay watershed.


The tables and chairs are made of recycled plastic.


The 8000-square-foot Reading Room has several green features. It offers a comfortable place to study, work, or read with natural sunlight coming from large windows.

Window Shades

The shades have GreenGuard certification. They are made of a fabric with low emission material. The fabric allows natural light to come through but reduces the heat transfer from the sun.

Training Room

A Training Room and Media Room were created in the space where the journal collection had resided. The company that constructed the walls received the Excellence in Partnership Award for Industry Green Contractor from the U.S. Coalition for Government Procurement and GSA Members. It is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and promotes LEED certification. Some examples of their green footprint are the way they ship products in large reusable “cookie” trays and the recycled content of their materials.

Study Carrels

Instead of buying new carrels with electrical outlets for laptop computers and other devices, we updated the old carrels by installing new outlets.


The light bulbs in the Reading Room ceiling were replaced with high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs. The first two rows of lights next to the windows have sensors that dim the lights based on the amount of sunlight coming through the windows. For the spotlights above the columns and hanging sculpture, we use LED bulbs. The entrance has display boxes with LED string lights.

Library's staff offices and training areas have motion sensors that automatically turn off the lights when no activity is detected.


The recycled content of the carpet was certified by Scientific Certification Systems.

Water Usage

Bathroom sinks and toilets have low-flow features to save water.

Services and Resources

In addition to the facility being green, many of the NIH Library’s services and resources are eco-friendly.

Document Delivery

The service is paperless. We scan articles into PDFs and email them.


We use recycled paper. There are recycling bins throughout the library.

Copier / Scanner

The machine makes photocopies or scans information into PDFs that can be stored on a USB key or sent via email, saving paper and toner. The self-service photocopy service requires users to login.

For more information please contact Bradley Otterson.