New Insulation Project Promises Environmental and Financial Payback

Bowdoin College is celebrating another step forward in its ongoing plan to become carbon neutral by 2020.

The work was done last summer, and the fruits of that work are invisible to most. But the paybacks — both financial and environmental — are undeniable, says Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer S. Catherine Longley, who chairs the campus Sustainability Implementation Committee.

A $100,000+ insulation retrofit project was carried out in 12 of the College’s mechanical rooms — the pipe-filled basement areas of campus buildings through which steam is pumped to provide heat.

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S. Catherine Longley

“This project is a win-win for the college,” says Longley. “We recognize now, during the winter heating season, that Bowdoin is saving a significant amount in energy costs, more than $80,000 a year, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions annually by almost 400 tons.” Furthermore, she adds, the project is expected to have paid for itself in less than 16 months.

The work was carried out by Auburn Manufacturing Inc., in Auburn, Maine, a local producer of “high performance coated textiles.” Bowdoin is now one of at least 18 colleges throughout the country using AMI’s “Ever Green Cut ‘n Wrap,” patented insulation systems that are installed to reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs. According to the company, it’s a technology that reduces heat loss by up to 88 percent.

“Ever Green Insulation Kits represent the lowest hanging fruit when considering energy efficiency retrofit projects,” says AMI president and CEO Kathie Leonard.

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New Insulation in the Mechanical Room. Chamberlain Hall

The padded insulation covers, she explains, were fitted onto 727 hot pipe components throughout the Bowdoin campus, components that were previously uncovered, allowing heat to escape.

“The reason these fittings are usually left uncovered is convenience and ease of access, when it comes to installation and maintenance work,” says Leonard. “Insulation blankets are traditionally cumbersome and difficult to take off and put back on again, but our system is designed for fast, on-site removal and replacement: only a utility knife and plier stapler are required.”

The facilities management staff at the College say they find the product easy to use and are seeing the results

Not surprisingly, all this insulation reduces the temperature considerably inside the typically hot mechanical rooms and the spaces above them, says Longley.

“This results in greater student comfort in the residence hall rooms and dining halls located above the mechanical rooms.” Furthermore, she adds, “Bowdoin has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship, and projects like these are helping the college achieve its long-term sustainability goal.”

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