Library Renovation Conserves Water Resources with Rain Tanks under Nameless Field

As the main library’s stacks are removed to make way for the new, every effort is being made to eliminate waste from the process. Parts of the building coming down have been repurposed from the inside out.

  • Surplus wooden shelving has found new life through UVA’s ReUSE Store.
  • Rebar in the walls is being recycled.
  • Brick and concrete are being chewed into gravel for use in other projects.
  • Trees rooted too close to be saved from construction are being sawed into planks to furnish lumber for student architectural projects.

And when the renovation is complete in 2023, storm water that once poured into the earth from the library’s 49,000 square feet of roof will be directed through a system of pipes into two massive cisterns under Nameless Field for use in Newcomb Road’s HVAC chiller plant.

Together, the tanks hold 75,000 gallons and will completely divert library runoff from rainfall of up to 1.8 inches and partially divert runoff from larger storms, depending upon available storage. The tanks will empty every 1-3 days following storms as the water is piped to the Newcomb Road chiller plant a few hundred feet away where it will provide at least 9 percent of the water needed annually for the cooling tower. The conservation effort will save approximately $10,000 the first year, and even more afterward as the cost of water from the city’s system rises. The tanks will also divert runoff away from a flood-prone area, preventing erosion and possible contamination of water supplies.

In addition to rain, the tanks will collect an estimated average of 640 gallons of water per day from vapor condensation — more than 230,000 gallons a year!

Side view of long cylindrical tanks on the grass behind a Skanska contractor's fence in Nameless Field, with cranes at the main library construction site in the background against the sky

Rain collection tanks installed below ground in Nameless Field will divert water that once flooded the area to a nearby Newcomb Road chiller plant.

View of the tanks behind a Skanska contractor's fence in Nameless Field with the University Avenue tennis courts in the background

The huge tanks will collect runoff from the roof of the renovated library and will also harvest over 230,000 gallons yearly from condensation.

The raw earth excavated in Nameless Field next to the library, with one of the cylindrical tanks in place, another on a flatbed truck on the gravel path next to the site

Tanks being placed below ground, one within the excavated area (center right) of Nameless Field. The another loaded on a flatbed (lower left) to be transported to the site.

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