Gloucester’s Public Library to be Cape Ann’s First Fossil Free Public Building
The Sawyer Free Library’s Board of Trustees is proud to announce that the renovated and expanded Library, set to open in 2025, will be the first public building on Cape Ann that generates renewable energy from solar and uses no fossil fuels for the building’s site energy. The 2025 Sawyer Free Library will serve as a leading example for the City of Gloucester and the Commonwealth in designing and operating a building for efficient consumption and generation of energy and water.
“The 2025 Sawyer Free Library makes Gloucester a leader in sustainable and renewable energy efforts. It is the first public building on Cape Ann serviced by an all-electric heat pump system powered by onsite renewable energy and puts Gloucester in the top 1% of public libraries across the Commonwealth,” stated the City of Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga. “This new library will be a major resource for our community for generations to come and set the standard for our future.”
The Sawyer Free Library is committed to achieving a LEED Gold Certification and Mass Save Path 1 Net- Zero-Ready Verification —a status achieved by minimizing energy demand, generating as much electricity on site as possible through solar, and securing a renewable source for additional electricity to achieve net-zero energy.
“The 2025 Sawyer Free Library is an important demonstration in how to be responsible stewards of our environment and reduce our footprint on the planet,” said Mern Sibley, President of the Sawyer Free Library’s Board of Trustees. “By converting an inefficient fossil fuel powered building into a class-leading sustainable facility, we have an example and an inspiration for how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in our City.”
The 2025 Sawyer Free Library is designed to create a better and healthier City of Gloucester. As a LEED Gold building with enhanced sustainability features, the 2025 Sawyer Free Library is a leading example of actions that can be taken in the designing and operating of a building to protect climate and nature based on design principles that put people first, including sustainability, accessibility, health, and safety.
The project integrates three distinct structures with complete renovations of the Library’s existing 1976 and 1913 buildings and an expansion of the footprint with a new 14,000 sq. ft. addition towards School Street. Common building systems will serve the renovation and addition with advanced sustainability features and enhanced commissioning designed for efficient consumption, generation, and storage of energy and water that will result in environmental benefits for decades to come.
The 2025 Sawyer Free Library features state-of-the-art energy-efficient technologies, including all-electric HVAC systems powered by renewable energy, solar power panels, LED light fixtures, and high-efficiency smart lighting controls. The Library’s sustainability commitments are to reduce energy use intensity (EUI) from 85 to 30 or below, use as much renewable energy as possible, generate a minimum of 30kW solar energy onsite and perform enhanced commissioning to achieve targets post-occupancy.
The buildings will also feature efficient water use fixtures and a rainwater collection and irrigation system to maintain the Library’s native landscaping. These systems will help the Library reach its target of a minimum 30% decrease in overall water usage.
Aiming to reduce single-occupancy vehicle traffic in the city, the 2025 Sawyer Free Library will serve as a bike and E-bike hub for safe and sustainable transportation. It will also offer public Electric Vehicle Level 2 charging stations in the parking lot to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week, to support decarbonization efforts locally and across the Commonwealth.
“The 2025 Sawyer Free Library presents a holistic approach to sustainability. The combination of the building’s sustainability features, its green operations and educational programming, along with its capacity as a physical and social climate response center, present a powerful demonstration of how we can mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said Jenny Benedict, Library Director. “Every action we take individually and collectively toward making our environment resilient and sustainable is a step toward a net zero impact future. Together, we can preserve the one planet we have to live on for ourselves and future generations.”
To support the innovative sustainability infrastructure, and systems, the Library’s Green Building Operations Policy will be another vital part of the Library’s commitment to ongoing environmentally sustainable practices. Implementing a wide range of “green” practices will save energy, conserve water, reduce waste, and support healthy work and public spaces.
“Both the building and the Library’s associated educational programming are a model and an inspiration for the entire community and beyond of how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” stated Sawyer Free Library Capital Projects Chair Simon Paddock.
Sawyer Free Library’s mission is to be a place of learning, innovation and creativity, to nurture and strengthen the community. Programs at the 2025 Sawyer Free Library will help to foster a climate-literate community through online dashboard displays, demonstrations, and programs for adults and children focused on sustainable research, practices, and hands-on interactive experiences. These will range from lectures and field trips about the values of our local land and ocean ecosystem to workshops on how to change our impact on our environment.
The 2025 Sawyer Free Library is designed to make resource conservation part of the everyday experience while inspiring and educating the community about the importance of environmental stewardship and beauty. The building will exemplify what a 21st-century public library can and should be in terms of sustainability and also architecture, accessibility, use of natural resources and light, wayfinding, lines of sight, air quality, and public safety. It will boast new community spaces, including a 110-seat community room with state-of-the-art science presentation technology, a dedicated room for teens, and a digital maker space with a film production suite and a sound recording studio. Additional features will include a Library History Center, a quiet Reading Room, and a 16-seat Conference Room. The 2025 Sawyer Free Library will be an educational, cultural, civic, and community hub for learning, collaboration, and innovation. With its modern and sustainable design, the Library will provide an inspiring and sustainable environment for library patrons, staff, the community, and beyond.
The Sawyer Free Library Board is planning the groundbreaking for the 2025 Sawyer Free Library this September, with construction expected to take approximately eighteen months. The Library is currently operating in its temporary location at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester.
For those interested in learning more about how the 2025 Sawyer Free Library is building a sustainable future or ways to support these efforts, visit www.sawyerfreelibrary.org/sustainability.