Bowdoin Wins State Grant for Thorne Hall Solar Hot Water Project

Story posted March 15, 2010

The College has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission toward the installation of a solar hot water project for Thorne Hall.

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The project, designed for the roof of Thorne, includes 24 glazed flat plate solar collectors, which will make up a 960-square-foot solar thermal array, and the piping to solar storage tanks.

Energy provided by this solar thermal system will offset natural gas currently used to feed the dining hall's existing steam-to-water heat exchanger system.

Thorne Hall is one of the largest users of water on campus, averaging 4,800 gallons per day.

The College's project consultant, ReVision Energy, estimates that approximately 4.16 billion BTUs from fossil fuels will be avoided over the first 10 years of the system's life.

The project is one of a number of important components of Bowdoin's recently announced commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

Read more about the College's Climate Action Plan here.

"The solar hot water project, in conjunction with the installation of a cogeneration facility that also recently received state funding, will help the College move forward in meeting its carbon neutrality goals," says S. Catherine Longley, senior vice president for finance and administration & treasurer.

Sustainable Dining
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A Dining Service program, the Bowdoin Organic Garden is supported by the Organic Garden Club, a large student group.

Read about Sustainable Dining, including Dining Service's local partners and organic garden program.


Bowdoin has targeted decreases in its own-source greenhouse gas emissions that will reduce its carbon footprint by at least 28% by 2020.

The system also includes a BTU meter with digital display and data- logging capability to monitor the system's performance through an online Web application, which will help serve as an important educational tool for students, faculty, staff and guests.

"So many of our sustainability efforts are behind the scenes," says Mary Lou Kennedy, Bowdoin's director of dining and bookstore services.

"The solar panels on Thorne Hall will be a tangible symbol to the students and the community of Bowdoin's diversified approach to reducing the College's greenhouse gas emissions."

Installation is expected to be completed this spring.

Global Change Blog

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A new blog, Global Change: Intersection of Nature and Culture, by Philip Camill, Rusack Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology and Director of the Environmental Studies Program, explores big questions about society and environmental change.

"When the information deluge only contains laundry lists, factoids and policy play-by-play, there's no theoretical context in which to analyze these things as part of a bigger picture," says Camill, a global change ecologist and leading expert on climate change in boreal and arctic ecosystems. "Global Change forges a new path. I want to analyze environmental change by focusing on the interaction between nature and culture, showcasing big ideas from all disciplines."

Visit the Global Change blog.


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