At an estimated cost of approximately $3.4 million, the work currently being done to the heating station is the largest scale construction project the College has broken ground on since the completion of the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness last year.

According to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Catherine Longley, the construction's scheduled completion date is late 2011.

The project consists of two stages. First, one of the station's boilers will be replaced during the summer, so that the campus will not be without heat during the academic year. Second, the building's roof will be redone next year to include an energy efficient steam turbine and, potentially, a "green roof."

Green roofs have been implemented by institutions as varied as Middlebury and Hannaford supermarket. By installing plots of earth on a building's roof, it is possible to insulate the building's heat, absorb rainwater and even grow plants.

A portion of the cost of the new turbine will come from a $400,000 grant that the College received from the State for the purchase of new energy efficient technology.

The steam turbine will harness steam emitted by the heating station's boilers and will convert it into energy. According to the original proposal for the project, "the electricity produced by the backpressure steam turbine is almost 'free' in the sense that it is produced without a significant increase in fuel consumption in the boiler."

It is not expected that these savings will significantly affect the College's finances in the near future.

The heating station provides heat to approximately 75 percent of the campus. According to the original proposal for the project, the new boiler and turbine will help reduce the College's energy usage by almost 20 percent and will reduce its carbon imitations by just over 18 percent. The boiler being replaced was installed in 1963 and is said to be the heating station's most fuel inefficient.

While Coordinator of Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson stressed that it is still uncertain if the green roof will be built, if constructed, it too will further the College's goal of sustainability. According to the Payson, "the College is interested in experimenting with a green roof because they are a great tool for managing storm water and they are also utilized for their ability to conserve energy."

Payson says that the College is looking into whether the roof could be used to grow tropical plants such as bananas and mangos that could be served in Bowdoin's dining halls.

However, she says, "one of the concerns that has been raised about installing a green roof on the heating plant is that the excessive heat in the building might dry out the soil on the roof—resulting in the need to regularly water the plants—which wouldn't be sustainable."