Photograph of the stunning green library in Homer, Alaska
Homer Public Library
BUILDING “OUTSIDE THE BOX” TO CREATE A GREEN FACILITY IN ALASKA
A small seaside community with approximately 4,000 residents, the town
of Homer, Alaska, may seem like an unlikely location for a state-of-the-art
construction project. However, from the start, the vision for Homer Public
Library was clear – an architecturally striking, green structure that would
not only become a sanctuary for the community, but would push the
landscape of the area forward in both design and function.
The plans for the 17,200-square-foot facility had been developed and
discussed for years prior to its opening. The location of the building
site and the town itself presented several unique challenges. Extreme
temperatures, high wind loads and seasonal sunlight issues were
important considerations for the design, engineering and construction
of the project.
Awarded LEED Silver® certification by the U.S. Green Building Council,
Homer Public Library was not only the first LEED ®-certified municipal
building in Alaska, it was only the second facility in the state to achieve
the Silver rating.
With a long, narrow finger of land jutting 4.5 miles into the bay,
Homer’s geography played a critical role in the design considerations.
Constructing an efficient building with numerous glazed elements had
been a major challenge in the area, but the project architects wanted
to push beyond the status quo of the “brick boxes” found in much of
the region. Their design featured numerous glazed elements, including
a curtain-walled community reading room and multiple windows
• Solar heat gain was a critical issue for the project, as the angle of
the sun and duration of sunlight varies greatly throughout the four
seasons in Alaska. The summertime sun is high and can blaze for up
to 19 hours a day, while in spring and fall, the sun is low and intense.
In midwinter, the area can get as few as five hours of daylight in a
• Another challenge came from the extreme wind loads that plagued
the area. Precise engineering and flawless fabrication were required
to ensure the structure could withstand the elements.
• To ensure efficiency, the team used thermally broken curtain
wall, windows, doors and framing, including Kawneer’s 1600 Wall
System™1 Curtain Wall, 8225TL Thermal Windows, 512 Ventrow
Thermal Ventilator, 360 Insulclad™ Entrances and Trifab™
VersaGlaze™ 451T Framing System. The high-performance products
helped to create a light-filled community reading room and provide
abundant natural light throughout without sacrificing thermal efficiency.
• Two rows of 1600 SunShades™ were incorporated into the curtain
wall system, defending against solar heat gain and protecting the
interior of the facility from the sun’s harsh effects.
• The team also relied on Kawneer’s steadfast engineering department
to provide a solid system and sound plans to meet the wind-load
issues. They utilized deeper mullions and cable wind-load supports
on the interior, making fabrication slightly more challenging but