Campus News

Bowdoin Meets, Exceeds Governor's Carbon Challenge

Story posted March 20, 2008

Bowdoin's exemplary efforts to reduce green house gas emissions have been recognized by the Governor's Office.

In 2006 the College joined the Maine Governor's Carbon Challenge, a voluntary goal-setting program to assist businesses and non-profit organizations accomplish their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

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Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson (center) accepts a plaque recognizing Bowdoin's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She is joined by Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor Karin Tilberg and DEP Commissioner David Littell

Already the College has accomplished an impressive 39 percent reduction in its first carbon emissions reporting.

This reduction from a base line year (fiscal year 2002-2003) already exceeds a goal of 11 percent that was set for 2010.

Of the 64 participants in the Governor's Carbon Challenge, Bowdoin was among 20 commended on Monday, March 17, 2008, for going beyond the 10 percent reductions.

"The Maine Governor's Carbon Challenge has been an important motivating factor in promoting efficiency and conservation within the Bowdoin community," says Treasurer and Climate Commitment Committee Chair S. Catherine Longley.

"People like to feel a part of an effort greater than their individual contributions and this program has really helped to put our greenhouse gas reduction efforts into a larger context."

"Joining the Governor's Carbon Challenge has provided Bowdoin with the opportunity to network with other businesses and institutions in Maine that are focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," says Keisha Payson, Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin.

"The forums the Department of Environmental Protection is offering as part of this program allow participants to share success stories and learn from each others experiences."

The College has taken significant steps toward reducing carbon emissions by reducing energy consumption and discarded materials while becoming more environmentally sustainable.

A 25 percent reduction in stationary source emissions was accomplished primarily by making a switch from #6 oil to dual fuels (#2 oil and natural gas) and by burning mostly natural gas.

A large part of the efficiency gains is also related to the new hot water heating systems that have replaced the old steam heating systems in the Bricks, the six newly renovated first-year residence halls.

Charlie Blier, the engineer in charge at Bowdoin's central steam plant, did some pre- and post-renovation steam heat usage evaluations. He estimates Bowdoin is using 40 to 50 percent fewer BTUs (British Thermal Unit, a unit of energy) in the buildings following these renovations.

Additionally, extra insulation was added to the roofs and new, more efficient double pane windows have replaced the old single pane windows that relied on the occupant to manually lower the storm window.

Bowdoin's vehicle fleet is also becoming more efficient with the inclusion of hybrids as well as an electric vehicle.

The College is also looking into a co-generation project that could significantly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. By including turbines in the steam plant, Bowdoin could co-generate electricity and heat, capturing energy that is presently released into the atmosphere as waste heat and greenhouse gas emissions.

In the spring of 2007, President Barry Mills committed to reducing sharply and eventually eliminating all of the College's global warming emissions as part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.

An advisory committee was named in October 2007 to help guide the development and implementation of a plan to help achieve climate neutrality.

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