Sustainable DPL

The Denver Public Library is serious about sustainability. We look daily for ways to reduce our consumption of resources, use renewable resources, reduce our pollutants and create alternative methods for connecting people with materials.

Check out the Library Value Calculator and the Library's green initiatives:

The Denver Public Library’s Green Achievements

  • Reuse of material is what libraries do. Reusing material saves the cost of producing the material.  In 2009 we had 638,169 customers who borrowed 9,681,017 items.
  • 58 million online transactions in 2009. This includes access to the catalog, articles, books, audio books, and videos. Customers can enjoy library resources from the comfort of home or office.
  • Interlibrary Loan and Prospector services fielded 283,287 requests to borrow and loan materials from libraries nearby and around the world.
  • Two Reading Rocket bookmobiles provide weekly bookmobile service to 31 Denver Public Schools. In 2009, over 4500 children received library cards through the bookmobile and checked out over 60,000 items.
  • In partnership with Xcel Energy, the Denver Public Library has added portable Watts Up? meters to our circulating collection. Accurate and easy to use, these meters have helped hundreds of individuals and businesses save energy and make appliance decisions.
  • Eco-friendly book bags! The Denver Public Library is pleased to announce this option for transporting your library materials. This reusable tote is made from recycled materials and can be recycled at the end of its life. Available at all locations for $1.
  • The Booklovers’ Ball went green. The event featured some of the latest ideas in green event planning, including an opportunity to purchase carbon credits for travel to and from the event, low impact event invitations, décor, catering supplies, locally grown food, local organic wine and other environmentally friendly programs.
  • In April and May of 2007, Fresh City Life devoted a month of programs to Greenprint Denver, culminating in an event with Academy Award winning producer and climate change activist Laurie David.
  • 15% of staff participate in the RTD Eco-pass program and many more bicycle and walk to work each day.

Back to top

Greener Library Buildings

  • In 2007, Denver voters approved funding for 3 new branch libraries. These new buildings will be LEED Silver certified.
  • Better Denver Bond funded improvements and renovations:
    • Upgraded mechanical/electrical systems
    • New A/C systems and/or HVAC units at four libraries
    • New boilers at four libraries
    • New building automation systems at five libraries
    • Upgraded electrical distribution systems at seven libraries
  • At all 23 library locations, the temperature set points are maintained between 68 and 74 degrees.  We heat up to 68 and cool to 74.
  • Eight locations have digital controls to control the temperature set point.
  • Two locations have digital lighting controls and are able to set a lighting schedule.
  • Infrared motion sensor lighting installed where possible.
  • Three locations have HVAC equipment rated at 85% efficient. (Hampden, Barnum and Bear Valley)
  • The HVAC replacement at Woodbury Branch Library is rated at 90% efficient.
  • 19 locations have energy efficient lamps and ballasts.
  • We use low VOC (volatile organic compound) painting practices. VOCs produce a volatile gas when applied, diminish air quality, and may be detrimental to health.
  • Carpet replacement projects use Interface eco-friendly carpet; no glue, no VOC, recycled content.
  • Waste carpet from the carpet replacement projects are sent to a carpet recycler.
  • Facilities methods and practices directed toward green compliance; cleaning products are eco-friendly when possible, rags are laundered for reuse and we use microfiber mops and walk-off mats at all entrances.
  • Replacement countertops are solid surface and/or solid wood surfaces instead of laminate.
  • Full participation of all 23 libraries in Denver’s recycling program.

Back to top

Energy and Emissions

  • Library users can request most items in the collection be delivered to their local branch, saving a trip across town.
  • In 2001, purchased one hybrid vehicle.
  • Three delivery trucks run on biodiesel B20 fuel. Plan is to consider this option on all future purchases.
  • Redesigned daytime delivery routes
    resulting in mileage and fuel use reduction.
  • Redesigned routine facilities maintenance schedule routes resulting in mileage and fuel use reduction.

Water conservation

  • Reduce water usage by replacing, as needed, the tank type toilets with low flow toilets.


  • In 2003, started recycling office waste paper and cardboard.
  • 1st quarter 2007 all locations participate in Denver’s single stream recycling program.
  • Second life to books weeded from the collection; as a used book dealer on Amazon since 2000, our Annual Used Book Sale, and our ongoing mini book sales at branch libraries.
  • In 2004, started recycling scrap metals.
  • In 1998, started recycling cell phone, dry cell and UPS batteries.
  • In 1998, started recycling fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Recycle toner cartridges from printers and copiers.

Reduce paper use

  • In 2006, software implementation reduced paper use from 5,000 sheets of paper to 1500 sheets every 2 weeks in the Interlibrary Loan department.
  • Two Branch locations use print release stations for public printing, reducing unnecessary printouts and wasted paper. Customers are able to select the printouts they need and specifically which pages to print.
  • Electronic distribution of in-house data reports. 
  • Electronic customer notification. On average, we electronically notify 3000 patrons each day regarding holds, overdues, etc.
  • There are 46,202 subscribers to 23 different online newsletters, keeping people informed while saving paper and postage. 


If you would like to learn more about Denver’s sustainable and environmental initiatives, please visit or check out the library's Greenprint resources. See About the Library for more information about budget, collections and more.

Back to top