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Success Stories

City of Howard Lake to Open First Net-Zero Library in Minnesota

Charlie Hildebrand
Community Facilities
Howard Lake officials believe their city will open the first net-zero library in Minnesota

A project that has been years in the making for a small Minnesota town is wrapping up. By the end of the summer, the City of Howard Lake is expected to open the doors of their new, state-of-the-art public library.

Howard Lake’s current library is the smallest library in the Great River Regional Library system, which consists of 33 locations. Built in 1979, it sits on a steeply sloping site as a two-story cast-in-place concrete building. The lack of an elevator connecting the library programming on the lower level and a shared community room on the second level significantly limits accessibility between floors. An engineering study highlighted various additional issues, including tall shelving that is out of reach for children and undersized work areas for staff.

With the help of a $3.5 million loan through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Direct Loan program, Howard Lake is replacing their outdated library with an updated, state-of-the-art facility. The new 7,000-square-foot library will provide library collections, technology access, meeting and assembly space with accessibility access to each room.

Howard Lake City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller emphasized the new library’s energy efficient design.

“Honestly, the best part of this project is that we’re fairly close to getting to net zero. I think we will be Minnesota’s first net-zero library,” Haggenmiller said.

Senator Tina Smith attended the library construction tour and praised Howard Lake’s city officials for their entrepreneurial spirit in improving the city’s infrastructure.

“You are demonstrating what I see in small towns and real places all over the state, which is the spirit of entrepreneurship. It’s not easy,” Senator Smith said. “You are always going to know best what this community is going to need.”

USDA Rural Development is also assisting Howard Lake with two additional upcoming infrastructure projects. The city was awarded a $9 million loan and a $578,000 grant through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program to make improvements to their water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure. Additionally, the city received a $3.1 million loan through the Community Facilities Direct Loans and Guaranteed Loans program to repair their streets after those water infrastructure improvements are completed.

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Minnesota: District 6