Location: Bowdoin / Sustainability / Carbon Neutrality / What We're Doing

What We're Doing


  • Accepted Maine Governor's Carbon Challenge in 2006 to reduce emissions 11% below 2002 levels by 2010. This goal was met by the summer of 2007. Bowdoin was recognized by the Governor's Office in March of 2008 for decreasing our emissions by over 10%.
  • Signed the American College and University President's Climate Commitment in May of 2007. Formed a Climate Action Committee charged with developing a Climate Action Plan that includes reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions to zero and raising awareness about climate change within the campus community and beyond. 
  • Developed a Carbon Neutrality Implementation Plan in 2009 as part of our commitment to the American College and University President's Climate Commitment.

Heating Plant

  • Switched fuels from #6 oil to #2 oil in 2003
  • Converted one of the heating plant boilers to dual fuel system utilizing both natural gas (NG) and #2 oil in 2004
  • Converted second boiler to dual fuel in 2005, burning primarily NG throughout the heating season
  • Discontinued use of idling boiler at heating plant
  • In 2005 Bowdoin reduced campus heating set point from 72 degrees to 68 degrees and increased the campus cooling set point from 72 to 76 degrees. At this time the campus also made a policy decision to hold off on the annual start up of the heating plant until necessary, rather than relying on a annual set date to start plant operations
  • All major renovation projects adhere to Bowdoin’s own Green Design Guidelines. The six first year dorms that were renovated using these standards between 2005 – 2007 are showing over 30%  reduction in steam use from the central heating plant
  • In the fall of 2006 the Bowdoin heating plant began burning all of the wasted fryolator oil from the dining halls in the heating plant.  The fryolator oil gets streamed into the boiler along with #2 oil when #2 is being burned
  • In 2010 the college replaced an aging boiler at the central steam plant with a new high-efficiency, low emissions, dual-fuel (natural gas and #2 oil) boiler.  In the summer of 2011 the college will install a back-pressure steam turbine as part of the new boiler system, allowing the college to produce an estimated 1.65 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. 
  • The college has also been converting small boilers across campus that burn #2 oil to natural gas.  By the summer of 2012 two-thirds of the campus has been converted to natural gas. 
  • The college has preformed energy audits on the campuses biggest fuel users and has begun the process of completely weatherizing the buildings in greatest need.

Electricity Use - Efficiency

  • Upgrading lights across campus with a goal of eliminating all non-dimmable incandescent bulbs in 2008 and a phased process to upgrade all fluorescent lights to T-5s and super efficient T’8s as well as LED lights in select locations.  We are also installing occupancy sensors whenever appropriate.
  • Utilizing photo sensors that detect sunlight to control lights in various locations across campus such as the stairwells in the six firstyear brick dorms.  When it is cloudy, the lights turn on, when it is sunny, they automatically shut off.
  • Utilizing occupancy sensors in offices and restrooms around campus to shut lights off when no one is in the room.
  • Replaced all aging vending machines on campus with new Energy Star machines.
  • Switched from top loading washing machines to front loading washers in 2003, saving an estimated 31,356 kWh per year.
  • Utilizing the Efficiency Maine program to increase efficiency in three phase motors and variable speed drives throughout campus
  • Bowdoin is installing a back-pressure steam turbine in the central heating plant that will produce an estimated 1.65 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
  • Bowdoin has an active energy conservation program, encouraging the campus community to shut off lights and shut down computers each day.  The students also participate in an annual month long energy conservation dorm competition
  • All computers purchased by Bowdoin College IT department are evaluated using EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), a widely recognized set of environmental criteria.  All models purchased receive Silver or Gold, the top two ratings available from EPEAT.
  • Bowdoin IT has transitioned to Blade servers that use 20% less energy than the servers they replaced and is running VMware to virtualize 75% of the services they offer.
  • The majority of CRT monitors on campus have been replaced with flat screens, saving roughly 2/3rds on electricity usage.

Renewable Energy

  • Starting in mid-2006, Bowdoin began purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset nearly all of its electricity emissions.  Bowdoin currently purchases voluntary renewable energy credits from Mars Hill wind farm in Mars Hill Maine and from the Worumbo dam, a dam certified by the Low Impact Hydro Institute located in Lisbon Falls Maine. These REC purchases complement the green power already provided pursuant to Maine's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law.  For 2009, 31 percent of Bowdoin's competitive electric supply is from qualifying renewable sources, with the remaining 69% offset with our RECs, bringing Bowdoin's total "green" electricity supply to 100 percent. 
  • Bowdoin has been recognized as a member of the Green Power Partner program with the EPA since 2006.
  • Bowdoin is utilizing ground source geothermal heating and cooling systems in four campus buildings, Osher and West Halls, Studzinski Recital Hall and the Walker Art Building. The systems extract heat from the ground to heat buildings in the winter and deposits heat into the ground to cool buildings in the summer using a heat pump.  The savings associated with geothermal systems is achievable due to the fact that deep underground the earth maintains a seasonally moderate temperature (approximately 50 degrees F) throughout the year.  By utilizing the earth as a heat source or sink, the system is able to operate more efficiently than traditional heating and cooling systems, thus reducing GHG emissions.
  • With the help of a grant from the Bingham Foundation and support from the Bowdoin class of 2008, Bowdoin installed its first solar hot water system on the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center in January of 2009.
  • In 2010, with the help of a $50,000 grant from ARRA funding, Bowdoin installed a 24 glazed flat plate solar collector system on top of Thorne Dining Hall, a 960-square-foot solar thermal array.  The solar thermal system offsets natural gas currently used to feed the dining hall's existing steam-to-water heat exchanger system.  Bowdoin was awarded a second $50,000 ARRA grant that will allow the college to effectively double the size of the existing 960-square foot solar hot water system atop Thorne Hall in 2011.