Grand Valley State University’s (Allendale, Michigan) $65 million Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons

Submitted by Megan Coder


Opened in June 2013.

Grand Valley's new library, which opened in June 2013 is a strong example of a sustainable and resilient, and possibly regenerative, library-- from its initial impulse to truly put students first and create a building that supports a full range of their needs, engaging them, enabling them to do what they need and want to do. These elements make the library a conduit in their lives on campus rather than a destination. The renovation process engaged a broad group of stakeholders in making a place that would propel the entire community forward in sustainability initiatives, and set the expectation that the library is essential to the future evolution of the community's success and vitality. Flexible design choices and management add resiliency. The active education and modeling of sustainability fuels a positive cycle toward a regenerative atmosphere.

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Grand Valley State University also has a strong sustainability presence and the Sustainability office has been in place at GVSU for 11 years.


  1. Use one of the many water bottle refilling stations throughout campus or refill your bottles at home, rather than buying water. 
  2. Save energy by turning off lights, TVs, and computers, as well as unplugging electrical items when not in use.
  3. Use alternative transportation modes to reduce emissions and save fuel by carpooling and riding the bus, which is free to GVSU students, faculty and staff members.
  4. Reduce your printing needs by accessing electronic resources through the library. 
  5. Practice recycling and composting daily by disposing of your items in the designated places on and off-campus.
  6. Stay active by regularly walking, biking, hiking and attending exercise programs. 
  7. Eat healthy and select fair-trade, local, and organic options, when available.  
  8. Enroll in any of Grand Valley's many sustainability related courses. 
  9. Purchase only what you need, buy used, barter, trade, or make your own for less.
  10. Engage in service projects by joining a sustainability related student or community organization.

Students use the new library's work space.‚Äč


Large stairway and open meeting space at the new library.

Students using comfortable furniture at the new library.


The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.