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April 20, 2018

Bowdoin College achieves carbon neutrality ahead of schedule

Bowdoin College has reached its goals of becoming "carbon neutral" at its Brunswick campus two years ahead of time.

According to a Bowdoin news release, the college reduced its onsite carbon emissions by 29%.

Using 2008 as the baseline, Bowdoin originally calculated its onsite greenhouse gas emissions at 16,326 metric tons. In 2017, these were cut to 11,620 metric tons, accomplished by updates involving much of the campus infrastructure. Projects included installing a co-generation turbine, which produces electricity as a byproduct of generating heat; converting buildings from oil to natural gas, insulating pipes and replacing thousands of lights with efficient LEDs.

To account for the remaining emissions, Bowdoin is investing in carbon offsets with regional impacts and in renewable energy credits associated with wind farms.

"These tools will help the college maintain a net-zero carbon footprint as it continues to actively pursue ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions," the college stated in its news release.

Partnering in NextEra solar project

Bowdoin also announced a renewable energy project partnership expected to result in the largest solar array in Maine. Bowdoin has joined four other liberal arts colleges — Amherst, Hampshire, Smith and Williams — to help fund NextEra Energy's construction of a 75-megawatt solar project in Farmington.

Competitive Energy Services, based in Portland, acted as advisor to each of the colleges.

The nearly $100 million project will support roughly 180 short-term jobs through the construction phase, as well as at least six full-time, permanent jobs once it is operating. The solar panels will cover roughly 350 acres, most of which are located at Sandy River Farms, and is expected to go online by the end of 2019.

The Sun Journal reported that Bowdoin joins other schools in Maine — including College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and Colby College in Waterville — that have also reached carbon neutral status.

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