Bowdoin’s efforts towards more sustainable practices has extened beyond the College and into the Brunswick community. In 2005, Bowdoin committed to switching to natural gas heating and brought additional natural gas pipelines to Brunswick. This allowed residents on Longfellow Avenue, Harpswell Road and Federal Street to gain access to natural gas.

Natural gas heats 83 percent of Bowdoin’s campus-owned buildings, according to Longley. Also, 5 percent of Maine residents heat their homes using natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas costs approximately half of the price of traditional heating methods, saving the residents and the College thousands of dollars a year, according to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Tresurer Katy Longley.

Longley said she believes that eventually Brunswick would have received natural gas access, but Bowdoin was catalyst in this acquisition. 

“Our investment in natural gas was substantial,” Longley said. Without Bowdoin’s interest in natural gas, “it might not have come to the community so quickly.”

Maine Natural Gas (MNG) supplies natural gas to the Brunswick area. The Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) was the first to use natural gas in Brunswick. Later, the College made an agreement with MNG to expand pipelines in the area to campus. This extended the Bath Road pipeline to residential streets. 

Keisha Payson, coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin, said she believes natural gas is a large resource to the community.

“Bowdoin has been another anchor in the community to expand [pipelines], and allow more people to take advantage of the access,” Payson said. 

In addition to natural gas expansion, Bowdoin often collaborates with Brunswick on environmental projects. 

Zipcar, a car sharing service, was brought to campus upon the recommendation of a Brunswick resident. 

“[The resident] told me a couple of times about how other universities were using Zipcar,” Longley said. “When we originally called Zipcar, they said that Bowdoin was too small. Then we found that U-Maine had them, and they took a gamble. The first couple of years, we had to pay Zipcar unless we had enough rides or uses. But we’ve far exceeded their expectations. So now, its pretty cost neutral.”

Zipcar is available to Brunswick residents at a slightly increased fee. Currently, 7 percent of people with Bowdoin Zipcar memberships are Brunswick residents.

Payson said she feels that Zipcar is successful.

“Zipcar is something we were doing for Bowdoin, but it was a nice offer to the community,” Payson said.

The Brunswick Explorer hybrid vans were also a collaboration between the town and the College. Bowdoin was on the planning group to create the Brunswick Explorer and offered seed money to start the program.

The College also makes an effort to help local nonprofits stay sustainable.

To deter food waste, the students aid the dining halls in flash freezing or directly taking leftover food to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. About 50 sandwiches and pastries leftover from Express lunch are donated, along with a similar portion of leftovers from Thorne Dining Hall. 

The dining halls donate used vegetable oil to Lifecycle Renewables to recycle the oil as fuel. In 2012, about 1,055 gallons of used oil was recycled.

Longley said Brunswick also helps Bowdoin in its sustainability efforts. 

“Since the town passed a single-stream recycling ordinance, we don’t have to sort it anymore. Bowdoin was the beneficiary of that effort,” she said.

Additional joint efforts are expected in the upcoming years. The town and the College are working on a collaborative effort to build a recreational path through the former NASB. 

“When the town gets its land, and when Bowdoin gets its land, hopefully, we will be working with them on a bike and walking trail that the town residents can use and Bowdoin’s faculty, staff and students can use,” Longley said. 

However, Bowdoin does not yet own the land. According to Longley, Bowdoin will officially acquire the land later this year. The trail is yet to be designed and constructed. 

 “What’s good for Bowdoin is good for Brunswick, and what’s good for Brunswick is good for Bowdoin,” Longley said. “And hopefully we help each other in coming up with good ideas that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.”

Payson said she believes there is ample student interest in environmental sustainability. 

“Development of this sustainability position was really driven by students looking at the Bowdoin campus,” Payson said. “This becomes their home for four years, and they really want to make a difference in their home while they’re here. And that’s how it started.”