"Sustainability at Bowdoin is an ever-evolving process. The ideas, energy, and effort from the students really help push Bowdoin in new directions and ensure we 'walk the talk' regarding the important issues they learn about in class."
—Keisha Payson, Assistant Director of Sustainability
Each October since 2001, twenty-two of the residence halls are challenged to reduce their energy usage from the 1st through the 31st. They are divided into three brackets: first-year dorms, college houses, and upper dorms, and work within those brackets to reduce energy more than any of their peers. Overall, the focus is on collective energy reduction, but many students get much more excited about trying to be the most energy efficient first-year dorm, college house, or upper dorm. Prizes are awarded to the residences that reduce their energy by the highest percentage.
At this time, Bowdoin's metering system allows for Chamberlain, Coles Tower, Howard Hall, Stowe Hall, Stowe House Inn, and 52 Harpswell to compete as the Upper Dorms. All other Upper Dorms and Apartments are metered through CMP and are not yet able to compete with their peers.
In 2019, we pulled off a 8.9% reduction, with Osher Hall winning overall with a 27.8% reduction, followed closely by Coles Tower with 21.2%, and Baxter House with 17.6%. Maine Hall, although knocked out of the First Year bracket by Osher, had a strong showing with a 21.2% reduction. The complete results are available here.
The biggest things students can do to help their dorm win--in October and beyond--are:
- Flip off the lights when not in use
- Unplug chargers once devices are fully charged
- Use drying racks rather than clothes dryers
- Keep windows closed when the heat is on to maximize thermal efficiency of the dorm.
We did not hold the competition in 2020 but look forward to taking on the challenge again in the fall of 2021!
Each spring, a small team of students is hired to help sort the Goodwill and food pantry donations made by departing students. The job entails working to separate reusable goods from unsalable, coordinating with Goodwill staff and departing students, and operating efficiently under a strict timeline as the campus must be left clean and tidy by the end of Commencement Weekend. In 2018, Bowdoin collected 37,800 pounds of donations, which would have ended up in the landfill without the necessary work of these student employees.
At the end of every academic year, departing students will donate a variety of dorm and school supplies that are in good condition to be redistributed to incoming students. Students who fly into campus or who receive financial aid are the first recipients of these supplies, and other students filter through the FreeCycle after! FreeCycle encourages students to use recycled supplies instead of purchasing new ones at the beginning of every year.
Greenstock is an all-day barbeque, music festival, and sustainability fair that is hosted during the fall semester and highlights sustainability initiatives and green clubs on campus, as well as Bowdoin bands. Like Earth Day, it works to engage that entire campus in eco-themed projects, while also contributing to campus culture.
Earth Day is an all-day environmental festival held on the main quad. Student groups host games and info sessions, and the Yellow Bike Club hosts a particularly popular bike tune-up session. Earth Day is nationally celebrated on April 22th, and was first begun in 1970. It is now one of the most important days of the year for promoting sustainable values and environmental stewardship, both at Bowdoin and across the country.