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May 10, 2022

Bowdoin plans on investing $100M to 'decarbonize' by 2042

aerial of college campus Courtesy / Michele Stapleton Bowdoin College, which has an enrollment of about 1,800 students, today launched a plan to invest at least $100 million in campus infrastructure with the goal of utilizing carbon-free clean energy by 2042.

Bowdoin College on Tuesday launched a plan to invest at least $100 million in campus infrastructure to help the Brunswick liberarl arts college switch to more carbon-free energy by 2042. 

The clean-energy plan, called “Sustainble Bowdoin 2042,” is to invest the money between now and 2037.

The plan for a "decarbonized" campus calls for producing renewable electricity, increasing the efficiency of the college’s buildings and transitioning to a fossil fuel-free heating system, according to a news release.

The college’s aging steam-based central heating system is one of the biggest challenges to overcome.

Bowdoin plans to inventory and update all 52 buildings using steam and high-temperature hot water to transition to a low-temperature hot water system that works effectively with a variety of low- or zero-carbon sources, such as heat pumps, heat recovery, solar, geothermal, and possible yet-to-be-developed technologies. 

With winter heating responsible for 75% of the college’s carbon emissions, Phase I (2022–2037) of the plan creates tighter building envelopes and completely rebuilds the heating infrastructure. Phase II (2038–2042) replaces the gas-fired central heating plant with an alternative energy station.

The plan also includes the following.

• Clean electricity: The college already produces solar power matching 88% of its electricity needs. With new contracts for additional electricity sourced from new solar photovoltaic and hydro projects located in Maine, the goal is to supply 100% of campus electrical usage by renewable sources by the end of 2023.

• Other sources: The college will expand efforts to make the entire campus net-zero, furthering efforts to reduce waste, improve commuting options and make environmentally responsible procurement choices.

• Academic programming: The college will build on academic, research, curriculum and career-training opportunities to advance student and faculty learning and innovation in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.

“‘Sustainable Bowdoin 2042’ is about securing the future for our students, and for the world beyond our campus, through living our commitment to sustainability, and in the education we provide,” said Bowdoin President Clayton Rose, who plans to retire next year. “It is the result of a comprehensive, multi-year planning effort that involved all facets of our community.”

Bowdoin also said it will report on progress of the plan as it's implemented and as new technologies emerge.

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