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The City of Beverly has launched a transformative project to decarbonize Beverly’s Main Library and improve building performance, air quality, and service to community members as a cooling center in the summer. The current Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment has reached the end of its useful life and the City of Beverly is committed to replacing the existing fossil fuel-powered heating and cooling system with geothermal heat pumps. 

The Beverly Public Library is well-recognized among residents as a welcoming resource. It loans over 367,000 items annually and, beyond its important roles in lending and community programming, the library has also been used as a cooling center during heat waves. As the City experiences more high-heat days due to climate change, a reliable cooling system will provide an increasingly critical public health service to the community. 

From a 2021 conceptual study examining HVAC upgrades for the building, the geothermal heat pump system was the strongest option to significantly reduce the building’s carbon footprint and lower long-term maintenance needs. In 2022, the City engaged an Owner’s Project Manager and procured the engineering firm B2Q to design the new system. Once the full project scope has been defined in early 2023, the City will engage a Construction Manager. 

“We are excited to move forward with our second geothermal HVAC project, having installed one for the new police station,” said Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill. “The ability to heat and cool these buildings in significant part by using the earth’s natural below-ground temperature, via an electric ground-source heat pump system, means that as our electricity is increasingly delivered from clean, renewable sources, these buildings will eventually create little to no harmful greenhouse gas emissions.” 

What to Expect

The project design is underway with construction anticipated to be completed in 2024.  

Using a phased construction approach, the library expects to remain operational during construction. While the City is committed to minimizing disruption to library services as much as possible, there will be periods during which the parking lot and some sections of the building will be unavailable. Occasional closures of the building may be required. 

In addition to the metered spots that will remain available on Essex Street and public parking lots on Pond Street, other parking options are currently being explored. Specific updates regarding any delayed openings, closures, or service changes, will be posted to the library’s website and the City’s project web page. A more detailed schedule showing impacts to the library services will be posted when the construction schedule is finalized and more specific information becomes available.

Funding

The City of Beverly has demonstrated commitment to this project by appropriating two million dollars from Free Cash to launch the project. This project was recently awarded a $500,000 Green Communities Decarbonization Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Governor Charlie Baker announced the Green Communities grant awards on January 4, 2023.

The City has also secured a $1 Million Federal earmark through the advocacy of Congressman Seth Moulton and $300,000 in the state FY 2023 operating budget through the advocacy of Representative Jerry Parisella and State Senator Joan Lovely. The City anticipates significant additional incentive funds from National Grid for the HVAC upgrades and weatherization, and will continue to pursue grant opportunities for the project. 

The total budget will be determined after the full project scope has been defined.

For more information, FAQs, and updates, please refer to the project web page.