firm completes environmental audit
JEREMY ARLING, CONTRIBUTOR
After several months of work, consultants from the
independent firm of Woodard and Curran recently released the results of
an environmental audit of the College which included two visits to Bowdoin-one
last summer and one in September.
The primary goal of the audit was to "detail the current
environmental impact to air, water, and land from all of Bowdoin's activities
The audit addressed recycling, solid waste, energy,
water, hazardous waste, transportation, construction, landscaping, and
purchasing. The report presents general recommendations for each issue,
as well as recommendations to 25 College areas, ranging from the Department
of Athletics to the Breckinridge Center.
One of Bowdoin's problems, according to the audit, is
that the recycling facilities at the College are inadequate in both the
residences and in many public areas.
Also, students have often expressed concern for the
energy wasted in the residences as many students feel that they must keep
their windows open in order to moderate the often extreme heat.
Another issue is that electricity consumption has increased
a dramatic 75 percent since 1995, partly due to the proliferation of personal
computers and electronics.
However, the audit did recognize some actions that Bowdoin
has taken to reduce its environmental impact. For example, energy conservation
measures have reduced oil use at the heating plant by about 20 percent
since 1973, despite the large growth of the campus. This amounts to a
per-building-area decrease of 40 percent. Also, dining service's simple
action of placing napkin baskets on the tables has reduced napkin waste
by 40 percent.
The Committee for a Sustainable Bowdoin, who recommended
the hiring of Woodard and Curran, is responsible for helping to carry
out the recommendations of the audit. As a result, it now has three significant
goals on its agenda.
The first is to tackle the "low-hanging fruit." These
are easy and inexpensive actions, such as placing napkin holders on tables
and setting computers to go to sleep sooner. The other two actions are
more difficult, but will yield greater results.
First, Bowdoin has recognized the need for an environmental
coordinator and is conducting a search to fill that position. The coordinator
will work with faculty, students, and staff to make the improvements recommended
by the audit and to provide assistance to the administration regarding
Finally, the committee plans to develop awareness training,
which is intended to inform faculty, staff, and students about environmental