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Bowdoin College to ditch fossil fuel within 20 years

The outgoing president said this will be one of the most important achievements of his time at the school with $100 million being invested into green construction.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — On the second-to-last day of school at Bowdoin College on Tuesday, students enjoyed one of the warmest days of the year yet, with construction noises going on in the background.

As students prepare to leave for vacation, the real work for Bowdoin is just beginning, with a new $100 million investment that was announced on Tuesday.

"For us, it's being a leader in both sustainability in our campus, as well as the teaching and study of the environment," President Clayton Rose said. 

He's talking about the layered approach to the 20-year-long commitment to Bowdoin fully functioning without fossil fuels.

The first step, according to the three-pronged approach, is to invest funding into new buildings on campus built with renewable resources. The next step is to outfit these buildings with green heating equipment up to the standards forecasted in 2042. The third step, according to Rose, is to beef up education surrounding climate change.

For Rose, he said updating building infrastructure is the first move.

"Some of these have been around for several hundred years, but they aren't very efficient," Rose said.

Rose said the project took years to plan out.

"When I leave in a year from now and look back, this will be one of the most important things done during my term as president," Rose said.

Rose announced earlier this year he plans to retire after the academic year ending in spring 2023.

Student organizations involved in climate action agree with the process.

"This is the kind of action we need to see in order to mitigate the effects of climate change," Luke Bartol, a junior and officer for the Bowdoin Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, said. 

Bartol added, "This is one of the big pressing issues facing our nation, and kind of effective action here is going to make or break our future."

The entire climate action plan presented by Bowdoin College can be read here.

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