Building & History

treehouse, library in the forest, leed, LEED, certified, green building

Conveniently located on Highway 31 in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, the Library in the Forest is the state’s first LEED gold-certified library. This 35,000-sf library is located on nine wooded, rolling acres of the Wald Estate, at the intersection of Round Hill Road and Highway 31 North. This beautiful setting runs adjacent to the Boulder Creek Nature Trail, providing unique indoor and outdoor learning experiences for visitors of all ages. Come visit us today at Library in the Forest!

“Come forth into the light of things: let nature be your teacher.”
– William Wordsworth


Early in 1969 a group of dedicated citizens, soon to become the Friends-of-the-Library, surveyed the community and found a strong desire for its citizens to have their own library. The first Library Board was soon formed, with Dr. Leonard Robinson as its chairman; the other members being Dr. Joe Volker, Jack Echols, Buell Warren, and Sara Wuska. In April of 1969 the Library opened on the site of the Vestavia Hills Civic Center, with slightly more than 7,000 books.

With the continuing support of the Mayor and City Council, much growth has taken place since that time. In 1995 the Library moved to 1112 Montgomery Highway. This location housed over 100,000 items, including books, books on cassette and CD, music CDs, videos and DVDs, and over 150 magazines and newspapers. In 2002, the Vestavia Hills Mayor and City Council developed a long range strategic plan in advance of our community’s projected population growth which included a bold $4 million challenge grant to match private gifts dollar-for-dollar for the building of a new library.

A cabinet of advisors and investors comprised of dedicated corporate citizens, volunteers and the library’s family of boards worked diligently to see the vision to fruition. Those organizations included the Library Board of Trustees, the Library Foundation, Friends of the Library, PALS (People Affecting Library Success) and ROCK (Reading Opportunities Challenging Kids, now disbanded).

The new 35,000-ft library is located on nine wooded, rolling acres of the Wald Estate, at the intersection of Round Hill Road and Highway 31 North. This beautiful setting runs adjacent to the Boulder Creek Nature Trail and affords unique outdoor learning experiences for visitors of all ages.

In the years to come, visitors to Vestavia Hills will encounter patrons, young and old alike, walking along a forest trail beside an attractive building which blends into the surrounding natural environment. Inside, they will see young entrepreneurs sitting at computer banks planning new businesses; children in a Treehouse Reading Room listening to a master storyteller. Visitors will sense that what they are seeing is not an impressive structure alone, but tangible evidence of the vision, faith and high aspiration of an entire city.

A Leader in Energy & Environmental Design

During your next visit, look closely. The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest was designed as an environmentally and architecturally sensitive space. As Alabama’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certified library, we are proud of our eco-friendly surroundings.*

Check out the following “green” design components:

  • Trees: More than 80% of the trees harvested from the land during construction were reincorporated into the library: ceilings are made of pine; the entry hall is poplar; the service desks, fireplace chimney, and doors to the community room are made from oak.
  • Solar Orientation: The building sits from east to west, which is ideal for efficiency in heating and air conditioning. In the summer, shade from the trees helps shield the building from the sun and in the winter more light comes through the windows, aiding in heating.
  • Rooftop Garden: The garden improves insulation, reduces energy use, and costs. It also minimizes the heat island effect, which contributes to the warming of our atmosphere.
  • Recycled Products: The highest grade of recyclable materials have been incorporated in everything from durable fabric to colorful carpet squares.
  • Raised Access Flooring: Floor tiles are raised 18 inches allowing for all ductwork and wiring to be placed underneath so that wiring adjustments as well as controlling heating and cooling zones are simple and efficient.
  • Programmable Lights: By utilizing motion detectors, lights are programmed to automatically turn on and off to save energy.
  • Water Collection: Drains in the parking lot are part of the building’s recycling system. Collected water is used to irrigate the library’s grounds. The library uses 40% less water than other buildings its size.
  • High-Efficiency Air Handling: The state-of-the-art heat, air conditioning, and water heating systems work together for high energy efficiency ratios and a wide range of airflow.
  • Light Colored Roof: The roof saves energy, reflects light, and reduces solar heating of the building.
  • Low Energy Fixtures: All lighting is low energy, whether it is the LED emergency exit lights or the fixtures seen throughout the building.
  • Natural Materials: The use of natural materials is an example of our respect for the environment and its resources.

* The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high- performance, sustainable buildings.

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