Let There Be Light

The new Miller Library is ablaze all night …but not for much longer.

“And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.”
Spike Milligan

I’ve been out late a number of nights recently, which is very unusual for me.  Three times in the last week I’ve driven by the new in the middle of the night and been startled by the intensity of the lights shining brightly from the mostly glass building.

It’s beautiful.  And bright.  I mean really, really BRIGHT.  Like a little sun shining onto Frederick Road at all hours of the night.

So that got me wondering what the deal was.  Why is the new building so extensively lit and isn’t that awfully bad for the environment (not to mention the electricity bill)?

I talked to the ever-helpful Kevin Enright, Director of the Office of Public Information for the Howard County Government.  He’s a wealth of information on anything and everything Howard County and he informed me that right now the contractor is paying to keep the library lit – but that once the county is running the facility when it becomes open to the public, things will change.

Howard County does a good job of striving to be as green as possible in many ways. The government sponsors the free annual Green­Fest event, which pro­vides access to “green ven­dors, orga­ni­za­tions and experts.”  County web­sites like Green Cen­tral Sta­tion can help you find green busi­nesses and events, and read about what the county is up to and how to get involved.

According to the site, “Howard County gov­ern­ment is tak­ing a hard look at its own oper­a­tions and find­ing ways to con­serve and inno­vate.  Howard County has had suc­cess phas­ing in hybrid vehi­cles and diesel-electric hybrid buses.  These vehi­cles are sav­ing money in fuel and main­te­nance costs.  Howard County also con­verted all traf­fic lights on County roads to LED lights.  These lights use 60% less energy than before. Other exam­ples of oper­a­tional changes within the County include the revamp­ing of the recy­cling pro­gram which increased recy­cling col­lected and decreased trash col­lected.  Another County facil­ity project is the instal­la­tion of solar pan­els at Howard County Library’s East Colum­bia Branch.”

In recent months , and on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sydney Cousin, state officials, students and teachers will “flip the switch” and activate the 2,000 solar panels recently installed on two acres of the County’s old landfill.  The public is invited to join the ceremony.

But back to the new Miller Library, and all of those lights!  With a county so cognizant of the environmental impact of issues such as these, would this blaze of glory continue much longer?  The answer, according to the Department of Public Works via Mr. Enright, is no.

“The County’s after hour policy when it comes to lights being left on in County Government buildings [after hours] is that light safety lights are left on and any additional (skeleton lights) can be lit for security purposes.  The County’s newest/renovated facilities have been retrofitted with a sensor system in which if the system does not pick up on movement for a given period of time, the non-essential lights automatically turn off,” he explains.  “Once [the county is running] the facility, there will be lights in the evening to keep it lit minimally much like we do the other facilities.”

That’s pretty much what I expected and a relief after seeing all of the electricity currently being wasted in the building all night long. 

Is anyone else excited about grand opening of the new library on December 17? Lighting issues aside, I know I am. It looks fantastic!


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