Maine colleges take measures to reduce their carbon footprint
Colleges and universities across the country are trying to use more renewable energy in the way that they run their schools. Many have added new technologies to their buildings to shrink their carbon footprint and to help the environment.
University of New England (UNE), located in Biddeford, Maine, took on this idea as a goal. They added 21 flat-plate solar hot water collectors on their campus as part of the process of improving their impact on the environment. This is the first step for UNE in the renewable energy project.
On November 3, 2008, UNE President Danielle Ripich signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. This commitment lets the school continue its initiatives to keep the school green.
The University of New England in their go-green initiative started promoting students to use zip-cars, to ride bikes and to recycle more, setting up many recycling bins around campus. They started to provide free bikes and twenty-eight free hours access to zip-cars if students left their cars at home in 2008. They also began to provide a shuttle bus service to students if they needed to go downtown.
The UNE Sustainability Office received a $50,000 grant in 2010 to begin working on the project. The grant will also pay for the installation of a performance monitoring display at the campus center. The project is the university’s first experience with a renewable energy source.
ReVision Energy is the company that designed the solar energy products and installed them at UNE.
This new solar energy system will save 50 percent of the campus’s hot water energy output. The other colleges that are starting to use renewable energy include Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Lakes Region Community College, located in Laconia, New Hampshire. Efficiency Maine, a state environmental group, is monitoring the progress of the renewable energy projects at these two Maine colleges.
“Everyone is excited about it. Reducing our energy demand, increasing our efficiency of energy use and utilizing renewable energy sources is the multi-pronged strategy the University will be taking to achieve our climate neutral goal,” the UNE Sustainability Coordinator Alethea Cariddi said in a recent press release.
The University added this role of sustainability coordinator recently, desiring an official whose role is to help reduce the school’s carbon footprint and to make the campus more environmentally friendly. They also wanted to raise student awareness about global warming.
UNE is designing what they call the “Climate Action Plan.” The intent is to help reduce energy consumption and to promote possible energy projects on campus in the future in order to continue on the path to make their University a greener school.
Recently, the University of New England closed a 95-car parking lot at their campus and turned it into a green space.
The next two projects that are in the planning stages are the addition of an automation and an energy management upgrade for greenhouse gases, as well as parking lot LED lights to reduce the energy that is being used in the lights that there now. The University of New England is receiving a grant of $154,160 that will be put towards the energy management upgrade and another grant of $34,347 that will go towards the parking lot lights.
“I am thrilled that, in less than two years, we have made measurable and positive progress toward that goal,” Cariddi said of the energy project thus far.