Among institutions of higher education in Maine, Bowdoin continues to lead the way for environmental awareness in terms of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

On Wednesday, the Maine Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the College a special recognition for its numerous LEED-certified buildings. The honor came at the tailend of "In The Limelight," an event that highlighted achievements in sustainability at college and university campuses across Maine.

Marilyn Leivian, who sits on the U.S. Green Building Council Board of Directors, said, "It is very important that we connect with students at colleges and universities in Maine. If we teach young people the importance of green initiatives, the knowledge is contagious. They have the critical mass and the passion to do something substantial."

The event kicked off with a tour of Bowdoin's LEED-certified buildings, including West and Osher Halls as well as Sidney J. Watson Ice Arena, the world's first LEED-certified ice arena. Following the tour, members met for their annual conference and presentations were given from representatives of a number of Maine colleges and universities.

Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson began the presentations by addressing the College's ninth annual "Do It In the Dark" Dorm Energy Savings Competition. Payson claimed that the event has been successful thus far and hopes the energy-saving trend will continue throughout November and the rest of the school year.

"So far, 10.5 days into the competition the dorms have conserved 2,763 kWh of electricity—that's the greenhouse gas equivalent of 223 gallons of gas or 4.6 barrels of oil," Payson said. "Hopefully we can save at least double or triple those numbers by the end of the competition. A tangible goal of the competition is instilling habits in Bowdoin students that focus on conservation—remembering the little things like turning out lights in empty rooms, not turning lights on when there is ample daylight in a room, shutting off computers at night and taking the stairs rather than the elevator if you are only travelling a few floors up."

Following Payson, a representative from the University of Maine addressed their Sustainable Agricultural Program. The centerpiece of the program is the Black Bear Food Guild, a three-acre organic mixed vegetable farm which provides food for local community. The program currently enrolls 30 students. The third presentation dealt with the founding of the campus farm at Saint Joseph's College of Maine. Finally, Unity College presented the efforts of three students campaigning to install solar panels on the White House roof and their road trip to Washington to petition the president.

Bowdoin received its recognition after the presentations. Colby College, Bates College, Kennebec Valley Community College, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine-Farmington all received honorable mention certificates for their commitment to a greener future.

In addition to building LEED certified buildings, Bowdoin has many other plans to help it reach the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. These plans include installing a back pressure steam system on the heating plant, increasing the number of solar panels on Thorne Hall and including more hybrid vehicles in Bowdoin's fleet.

While Payson was honored to receive the award, she said it should serve to encourage an even greener Bowdoin. "What is important is that we are taking action towards our goal to reduce Bowdoin's greenhouse gas emissions and building buildings that are healthy for the Bowdoin community to live and work in," she said. "Building more efficient buildings and going back and renovating our older buildings to be more efficient is a big part of that effort."