King County Library System receives grant to develop a climate action plan

The National Endowment for the Humanities gave a $133,252 grant to help develop climate initiatives.

The King County Library System (KCLS) received a $133,252 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a Climate Action Plan over the next two years under the Climate Smart Humanities Organizations program.

The KCLS Foundation will match the amount that NEH awarded by July 2024, for a total of $266,504 in grant funding.

NEH supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities. The Climate Smart program is one of three new grant programs that NEH created under the agency’s American Tapestry: Weaving Together Past, Present and Future initiative, which leverages the humanities to strengthen our democracy, advance equity for all and address our changing climate. The program enables cultural organizations — such as museums, libraries, archives and humanities centers — to develop strategic Climate Action Plans.

In this round of funding, NEH awarded $41.3 million in grants for 280 humanities projects across the country. KCLS was the only library system in the nation to receive the NEH grant to produce a Climate Action Plan.

“The NEH grant funds will help KCLS do its part to preserve and protect the environment for current and future generations to come,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We look forward to establishing and implementing our Climate Action Plan to further improve energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.”

The Climate Action Plan will align with federal, tribal, state, and local climate goals and priorities. KCLS will work with technical consultants to assess current greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy usage, and establish a measurable plan to implement conservation strategies.

The grant funding from NEH and the KCLS Foundation will help supplement green efforts already underway at KCLS, which has long committed to environmental stewardship. KCLS has been incorporating green building practices into library renovations and new construction for the past 15 years. In 2022, KCLS partnered with Puget Sound Energy to go carbon neutral at most library buildings. And KCLS’ Capital Bond Building Program, made possible by a voter-approved bond measure in 2004, included eco-friendly building designs, green roofs, rain gardens and other features ranging from carpeting to plumbing.

“These 280 new grant awards underscore the wide range of exemplary, fascinating and impactful humanities work that scholars, practitioners and institutions are conducting in all corners of the country,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “I am especially pleased to announce a number of innovative projects funded through NEH’s American Tapestry initiative that draw upon the insights of history, literature, culture and philosophy to help us understand, discuss and address some of today’s most urgent social issues.”