Bowdoin College - Solar Hot Water
Bowdoin College’s 48 flat plate solar hot water collectors will provide more than half of the hot water used annually at their Thorne Dining Hall

With the installation of 48 flat plate solar hot water collectors, ReVision recently completed a solar hot water system that will provide more than half of the hot water used at Bowdoin College’s Thorne Dining Hall.

For Bowdoin College, who seeks to become carbon neutral by 2020, the savings of over 90,000 lbs of C02 emissions per year is an attractive benefit on top of the clean energy heating.

The Portland Press Herald recently ran a story lauding Bowdoin’s efforts:

The [carbon neutrality] program is based on a conviction that the planet is threatened by man-made climate change and that college campuses can take a leadership role in helping to stabilize the atmosphere.

… The first step in becoming carbon neutral is defining a starting point, a carbon footprint. Schools tally their heating, gasoline and power bills. They conduct inventories and use verifiable assumptions and calculations to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions for a given date.

Bowdoin determined that the school released 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2008. The biggest sources came from electricity use, 44 percent, followed by heating and vehicles, 42 percent. The rest came largely from employee commuting, transmission line losses and travel.

… Beyond changing technology, Bowdoin also wants to use its educational mandate to change behavior. To meet the 2020 goal, it says, everyone on campus must share an awareness of carbon neutrality. That means developing energy-saving habits, such as shutting down computers and turning off lights.

The 48 flat plate solar hot water collectors will produce over 584,000,000 BTUs of thermal energy each year, or a savings of roughly 8,800 therms of natural gas annually. In the summertime it will mean significantly reduced runtime of a boiler dedicated specifically to Thorne Dining Hall, while in the winter the hot water supply is assisted with a central campus boiler that also provides space heat.

Possibly as exciting as the energy savings itself is the way that Bowdoin is creating fun, interactive tools for analyzing energy use and develop a culture of students, faculty, and staff who are energy conscious.

Check out this Flash-based energy production/analysis tool:

Bowdoin College Campus Energy Use

The transition to a clean energy economy is as much about changing our own attitudes towards energy as it is getting serious about fossil fuel alternatives. We’re thrilled to see Bowdoin College leading the way!

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