Doug Hubley, Bates College
The round green panels are the locations of the two Renewable Fuel Oil burners in the campus steam plant. The first burner was installed on Boiler No. 1, at left, two years ago. The second, on Boiler No. 2, just went into service. Photo: Doug Hubley/Bates College
It’s likely, says Bates’ sustainability manager, that a recent update to the campus heating plant will put the college “right on the cusp of carbon neutrality.”
Historically powered by fossil fuels — namely natural gas and fuel oil — the plant produces steam that heats buildings across the central campus, totaling about 1.1 million square feet.
Going online in 2017, one of the plant’s three boilers was reconfigured to burn a sustainable forest product called Renewable Fuel Oil — thereby reducing Bates’ fossil carbon emissions by roughly 80 percent from 2001 levels.
This week, in an exciting sequel to that development, a second boiler began burning RFO. And this step will reduce Bates’ overall greenhouse-gas emissions by another 15 percent. That is, the college’s emissions will total a mere 5 percent of that 2001 baseline, according to an estimate from sustainability manager Tom Twist.