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Parman Branch Library at Stone Oak

San Antonio Public Library/Parman Branch

Innovation Summary

The new Parman Branch Library epitomizes sustainability in many ways - and not just in its construction.

Problem Statement

As planning began for the new Parman Branch of the San Antonio Public Library, one of the most important priorities for the Library Board of Trustees was that the building look as if it “grew” out of the landscape, as if it had always been there. The site, on heavily wooded land in the Texas Hill Country, presented design challenges, including a creek which serves as a natural flood control feature. It was also important to preserve the character of the site. Additionally, site donor Dan Parman’s vision was that the new library would become a center to develop mind, body and spirit.


Taking their cue from the Library Board’s request, project architects Marmon Mok extended the “natural” idea even further: they designed a building that would help to preserve nature through its low environmental impact. Marmon Mok used 20% locally produced materials in the construction, along with sustainably harvested wood. Windows serve to offer views of the surrounding site, as well as harvesting daylight to reduce power usage. Translucent wall panels allow additional daylight to enter while providing insulation and better thermal performance than glazed windows. Perforated fiberglass panels shade glazed portions of the building, reducing glare and direct solar heat gain inside the building. The climate control system operates at an energy savings rate of 24%. The climate control system operates at an energy savings rate of 24%. Low-flow faucets and plumbing fixtures reduce the use of potable water by 41%. Very few trees were removed for construction, including in the parking lot, which was built over an existing clear area. The parking lot also offers preferential parking for low-emission vehicles. The site itself was left as natural as possible, preserving natural plant life and providing a haven for wildlife. But the San Antonio Public Library went even further, extending the concept of “sustainability” to include its customers as well, and helping to fulfill Mr. Parman’s goal for the library as a resource for the development of mind, body and spirit. Library Board Trustee Loyce Ince donated funding for a walking trail through the surrounding natural area, in memory of her husband. Using funding from a federal grant, exercise equipment was installed along the trail. The San Antonio Rotary Club partnered with City Year San Antonio to construct a children’s playground.


From anecdotal evidence, the entire project is a great success with the community. Many local residents have become regular daily users of the walking trail and exercise features, and the playground is constantly busy. (In fact, the branch is one of the busiest in the San Antonio system, with storytimes so popular that there is often a waiting list to get in.) And, in official recognition, the U.S. Green Building Council has certified the Parman Branch Library as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold building, its second highest rating. The Parman Branch Library is not only the first building in the San Antonio Public Library system to receive LEED certification, it is also the first building owned by the City of San Antonio to be recognized in this way.