Following a commitment signed this spring, a college committee will begin meeting in October to determine how the campus can achieve carbon neutrality.

According to Keisha Payson, coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin, the committee will consist of the members of the College's Environmental Action Committee, which includes faculty, staff, and one student. The committee will be chaired by Environmental Health and Safety Manager Mark Fisher. Payson also said that additional students will be appointed in the future.

The organization of the committee comes after President Barry Mills signed a nationwide pledge, the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), to eventually eliminate the College's carbon emissions.

As part of the pledge, Bowdoin must undertake five steps, according to the ACUPCC's Web site.

First, Bowdoin must inventory its emissions and choose several immediate steps to reduce them.

Then, within two years, the College must set a target date by which it will achieve carbon neutrality, with benchmarks along the way to help gauge progress.

As a final part of the pledge, Bowdoin must also make sustainability a part of its academic curriculum.

According to Payson, the College has already kept an emissions inventory for years, and has also already fulfilled some of the immediate requirements. Therefore, the difficult part of the pledge will be determining how and when the College will go carbon neutral.

Bowdoin, Payson said, has two sources of carbon emissions: direct and indirect. Indirect emissions result from things that the College purchases, like electricity. These types of emissions are more easily reduced?for example, Bowdoin currently purchases its electricity from a low-impact hydroelectric facility.

Direct emissions, those that come straight from the college campus, are more difficult to control. These include things like emissions from the heating plant or college vehicles.

"I see that as one of our biggest challenges?how we're going to address the heating plant," Payson said.

The heating plant has been reducing its carbon emissions by using different energy sources, said Payson, "but we're still using fossil fuels."

As of Thursday, 347 college presidents had signed the ACUPCC, including those of Bates College, Middlebury College, and Trinity College. While the presidents of all University of Maine schools have signed, Colby College's president has not.

Payson said that while the College has made a commitment, progress won't be immediate.

"This isn't going to be easy, and it's not going to happen tomorrow," she said. "We have to realize carbon neutrality is a big change from what everybody's been operating at."

"Nonetheless," she added, "we've made the commitment, and we have something to strive for. It gives us a galvanizing point."