COA moves closer to a fossil fuel-free campus
APR 27, 2023
BAR HARBOR — Celebrate the spring season with College of the Atlantic’s flock of sheep on Saturday as they enter the pasture for the first time this year. There’s sure to be lots of running, leaping, and playing as the ewes and lambs get their hooves onto the fresh grass after the long winter.
Join “Leaping into Spring” at College of the Atlantic Peggy Rockefeller Farm at 532 Crooked Road on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The lambs will be let out of the barn at 10:30 sharp. The rain date for the event is April 30.
“Leaping into Spring” also features a pop-up farmers’ market and food systems fair, with representatives from local farms, student groups, and food access organizations. There will be tours of the farm and a chance to learn more about operations there. All are welcome to attend this free event. Visit coa.edu/calendar for more. information.
COA moves closer to a fossil fuel-free campus
Close to three quarters of College of the Atlantic’s electricity will be provided by a new solar farm in Hampden for at least the next 20 years, according to an agreement between COA and Maine-based solar firm ReVision Energy.
The move will provide COA with renewable power for all non-residential uses from the Hampden solar energy project. It reflects an institution-wide shift towards 100% renewable energy as the school works towards their goal of eliminating fossil fuel usage by 2030.
“Partnering with ReVision Energy on the Hampden solar energy project is a winning move for College of the Atlantic. The clean, renewable energy generated by this project will bring the college much closer to our goal of a fossil fuel-free campus while contributing to regional sustainability and smart economic growth,” says David Gibson, director of energy at the college.
The 20-year contract comes as Gibson spearheads efforts to fulfill the requirements set out in the COA’s 2017 Energy Framework and 2022 Energy Policy, which call for a complete transformation from fossil fuel use to renewable energy. Over the past two years, insulation and weatherization work has taken place in multiple campus facilities and heat-pump systems have taken the place of oil furnaces and hot water heaters, cutting fossil fuel use in buildings by more than 40%. Clean electricity from a regional source such as the Hampden project is a key part of the overall effort.
“Even though it’s not as visible as some other projects we are working on, being able to source and heat our buildings with local electricity is leading the way towards more sustainable buildings, while also teaching the people how to live sustainably,” says Linneah Goh ‘25, co-chair of COA’s Campus Committee for Sustainability.
The work is the result of a collaboration between consumers, installers, and investors that may serve as a model for continuing developments in the Northeast.
The Hampden project, made possible by a collaboration between ReVision Energy, The Wishcamper Companies, Inc., and Terrasmart, will provide 6.77 MW of electricity to the communities surrounding the solar field, including College of the Atlantic, the Deer Isle/Stonington School District, the Town of Blue Hill, and the Bangor Water District. The project is slated to go live in the fall. COA will receive around 1 million kWh of electricity from the project each year, which will provide nearly all the electricity for their commercial accounts.
The Wishcamper Companies Inc. is a Portland, ME-based investment firm involved with affordable housing and renewable energy projects in Maine and across the United States. They are the investor and owner of the project. Their current portfolio boasts 35 renewable energy developments since 2016, the majority of which are in New Hampshire and Maine. The pre-construction process was completed by ReVision Energy, which is an employee-owned solar company that serves Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Its teams cleared three acres of the 25-acre parcel and graded much of it.
“ReVision did an outstanding job preparing the site so that we could get the job done fast. We didn’t need to jump across trenches or work around civil crews and that let us expedite our processes to perform a faster install without being on top of other subcontractors,” Terrasmart project manager Ron Dawkins says in a project case-study.
Terrasmart, a leader in solar PV installation and solar racking technologies made leaps and bounds during the installation process, streamlining installation speed by 80% of the industry average and finding cost efficiencies in the process, according to the case study. Much of their efficiency comes down to the synchronous nature of their partnership with ReVision Energy and The Wishcamper Companies Inc, they say, and this model should serve as an example for other companies across the nation.
College of the Atlantic is the first college in the US to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty enriches the liberal arts tradition through a distinctive educational philosophy—human ecology. A human-ecological perspective integrates knowledge from all academic disciplines and from personal experience to investigate—and ultimately improve—the relationships between human beings and our social, natural, built, and technological environments. The human ecological perspective guides all aspects of education, research, activism, and interactions among the college’s students, faculty, staff, and trustees. Learn more at coa.edu.
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