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Solar Panels

photo of solar panels
See how much energy the solar panels on the library roof are generating!

A rooftop solar panel system provides a portion of the library's electricity. Comprised of ninety Kyocera 175-watt solar panels, it is connected to three 6,000-watt SMA Sunny Boy inverters. At the time of construction, this formed the largest photovoltaic array in the state of Iowa. The system is estimated to produce more than 20,000 kWh per year, or about 6% of the library's energy needs.

South Meadow

The library's landscaping, including the "south meadow" prairie planting was designed by Genus Landscape Architects to incorporate native plants and trees. The south meadow, though not a reconstruction of the prairie which covered much of our state, was designed to evoke a prairie meadow. Plants include Coneflower, False Indigo, and Black-Eyed Susan; Little Bluestem provides the grass backdrop to the flowers. Native species are better adapted to our Iowa soils and climate, and they are able to flourish with minimal care and no supplemental watering.

The south meadow is a work-in-progress. Prairie plants and grasses take three or more years to establish themselves and out-compete weeds and cool season grasses. We ask you to be patient while the planting "sleeps, creeps, and then leaps." The library's south meadow will be worth the wait!

South Meadow map Click to see a large map of the south meadow.

The library hosted an educational program on prairies and native plantings called Prairies In Your Backyard on April 15, 2010. Inger Lamb (Iowa Prairie Network and Prairie Landscapes LLC) and Brad Riphagen (Trees Forever) spoke about Iowa's prairie history and gave advice on starting your own native planting. Inger's handouts are available online for more information.


The Marshalltown Public Library building is LEED® certified to the Gold level, making it the first LEED certified library in Iowa.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the nation's preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings, established by the U. S. Green Building Council.

Features of the library building that contributed to LEED certification:

  • A construction plan that included recycling 97% of construction waste. Asphalt removed from the old parking lot on the site was ground up and reused; workers' pop cans were collected and recycled; metals and other materials were sorted for reuse.
  • A highly efficient heating and cooling system manufactured by Lennox Industries Inc.
  • A white membrane roof to reflect heat during the summer.
  • A rooftop solar panel system (see above).
  • Lighting and window design that exploits natural daylight and uses occupancy-sensored lighting to turn off lights when not needed. Clerestory windows bring sunlight deep into the building, sun shades on the window exteriors keep heat out in the summertime, and light shelves on the interior of windows bounce the sunlight farther inside. Around the perimeter of the building, lights dim and brighten depending upon the amount of natural light available.
  • Bamboo, a fast and sustainably grown lumber source, used for the library's service desks and the bookshelves' end panels.
  • Carpet squares that are 'cradle to cradle,' composed of recycled material. When the carpet needs to be replaced, the library's old carpet will be ground up by Shaw, the manufacturer, to be used in new carpeting.
  • PaperStone counters featured at the Check Out Desk, Information Desk, and catalog kiosks. PaperStone is a solid material made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and cashew shell husks.
  • Soy-based spray foam insulation that increases energy efficiency.
  • Improved indoor air quality by using low VOC paints and adhesives.
  • Low-flow water fixtures and toilets used throughout the building.
  • Electric 'flash heaters' that heat water instantly on demand at each sink and appliance, instead of storing water in energy-wasteful hot water tanks.
  • A renovated storm sewer for the library block, and a holding culvert installed underneath the parking lot to allow water draining from the downtown area during heavy rain to flow more gradually into the storm sewer system.
  • Constructed on a previously developed site instead of breaking new land.
  • Landscaping that uses hardy native plants and trees which, when established, do not require watering. The site, which was previously covered by asphalt, has been restored with vegetation.
  • Placement in a residential area in close proximity to downtown services and public transportation. Bike racks provided.
  • Shower and changing facilities for staff to promote biking, jogging, or walking to work.
  • Preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Reduced heat island effect by minimizing pavement and, when paved, using concrete with white aggregate, providing a solar reflectance index of at least 29.
  • Exterior light fixtures allowing no more than 2% of light to be directed up, reducing light pollution.
  • Regional materials used when possible, including the building's brick and limestone.


Library Hours
Monday - Thursday: 9am -8pm
Friday: 9am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 4pm
Sunday: 1pm-4pm

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