Thomas College knows a thing or two about guaranteeing sustainable futures for our students. That’s why we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure a more sustainable future for our campus community and our planet.
We’ve never been afraid to lead, and you’ll see leadership in our ambitious campus building plans. Our green buildings and sustainability initiatives don’t just conserve energy—they also save money and provide our students unique opportunities to research, engage, and discover.
Putting Energy to Work
Examples of our sustainable initiatives abound: from efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems to geothermal wells and point-of-use water systems, or from Dining Services recycling cooking oil to our student-driven campus recycling program. Perhaps the most impressive example is our “Alfond Array,” one of the state’s largest solar photovoltaic arrays. Made up of almost 700 solar panels on the Alfond Athletic Center, this 175 kWh system, installed by ReVision Energy, produces almost 11% of the electricity used on campus. Here’s what we’ve gained from this system alone since 2012:
- Offset 1,247 gallons of gas.
- Generated 14,117 kWh of electricity.
- Saved 8 tons of CO2 emissions.
- Produced enough energy to charge an electric car 588 times.
- Generated enough power to charge 2,611,645 smartphones.
To continue our diverse sustainability efforts, Thomas joined the United States Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge in June 2015. By taking part in the challenge, Thomas has committed to providing plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging stations to students, staff, and faculty. Thomas began offering PEV parking in 2013 with the installation of two Level I chargers at designated parking spots on campus. In the fall of 2015 Thomas College added two level II chargers, which provide a charge in half the time.
History of Energy Conservation at Thomas College
Thomas College has a long history of environmental stewardship. Below is the history of energy conservation here.
- With a grant from Central Maine Power company for $2,500, Thomas College now has two new level II electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in a south parking lot.
- Joined U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge.
- A new energy efficient residence hall was built: Hinman.
- The Ayotte Center received a new natural gas boiler.
- The first geothermal buildings was finished: Academic Center.
- The largest solar panel installation in Maine as of May 2013 (167kW, 700 panels). Estimated Power Production = 175,000 kwh/year. These panels will offset 11% of the campus-wide electricity usage each year. See how much electricity is being produced right now.
- The first well for the geothermal system planned for the Alfond Academic Center was drilled.
- The largest solar PV array in Maine was added to the Alfond Athletic Center. Comprised of almost 700 panels, this 167kW system produces up to 11% of the campus’s electricity used each year.
- Thomas charges its first EV (electric vehicle) on campus, owned by an employee. Plans are made to provide level II EV charging stations on campus as demand increases.
- Lighting replaced with more efficient lighting in remaining classrooms.
- One of the highest energy use buildings, the Student Commons, received new upgrades to lower energy use while renovating.
- Car sharing options were added.
- The first solar photovoltaic (PV) system was installed on the roof of the main administration and classroom building. This is an 8.3 kilowatt grid-tied system with 44 panels. Total power production will equal approximately 11,428 kWh annually. This offsets approximately 14,856 pounds of CO2 emissions annually. This saves about $1,600 per year and was funded by a $50,000 PUC grant.
- Athletics hall way lighting replaced with more efficient lighting.
- Lighting replaced with more efficient lighting in classrooms 126, 222, and 223.
- Several Windows servers moved to smaller blades with network attached storage to save electricity.
- Occupancy sensors were added in public places to turn off lights automatically.
- Athletics Center Field House lighting replaced with more efficient lighting.
- A more efficient air conditioner was installed in computer lab 126.
- New energy efficient oil boiler was purchased for the Alumni House.
- Hosted, in partnership with the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, a Business Breakfast focused on Solar vs. Wind Energy for Businesses presented by Greg Fletcher from KVCC.
- The ice machine in the Dining Center was replaced with an Energy Star model.
- Trays removed from the Dining Center to reduce cleaning and disposal costs.
- New oil measurement device added to Athletic Center.
- CFI Bulb swap program run by RA in Bartlett.
- Insulation panels added below Village windows.
- New devices and procedures added for measuring electricity monthly for the original three campus buildings; GPH res. hall, administration/classroom building, and the student center.
- First Energy Fair in October with bulb-swap.
- Point-of-use hot water systems added to Administration building and Alumni House for hot water during summer months.
- New electricity use information from CMP being used for decision making.
- Student group revives campus recycling of office paper, newspaper, and bottles/cans. – President Spann creates ad-hoc committee for energy conservation.
- Insulation projects started in original campus buildings to lower heat loss in the “cap” of each building.
- Gym lighting replaced with more efficient lighting.
- Well-insulated Townhouses built. Oil heating systems are energy-efficient System 2000s. R-studio software used to manage heating and cooling.
- CRT monitors replaced with flat panels to save electricity.
- Windows servers moved to smaller blades with network attached storage to save electricity.
- New procedures for measuring monthly oil consumption added for larger buildings.
- Dining Services tries “trayless day” to save cleaning and disposal costs.
- Dining Services starts re-cycling oil.
- President replaces car with a hybrid.
- Student Lounge (124) lighting replaced with more efficient lighting.
- Student Center connected to EBI management system along with new controls to lower heating costs.
- Administration building connected to EBI management system along with new controls to lower heating costs.
- Classroom, Library, Auditorium, and Gym CO2 detectors added to make room ventilators more efficient.
- GPH boiler burners replaced with more energy efficient models.
- Programmable thermostats added to Alumni House to turn back temperature at night.
- Started multi-year project of replacing lighting in classrooms and administration building hallways with more efficient bulbs.
- Started adding motion sensors to vending machines using electricity to cool.
- Student Environmental Club is formed.
- Installed new energy efficient boiler in the Student Center.
- Alfond Athletic Center opened Fall 2006 with increased use of skylights to reduce artificial lighting needed.
- Bartlett Hall opened Fall 2003 with high-efficiency heating, cooling, and lighting systems.
- Added new heating controls added to GPH rooms to better control heating by room instead of by floor.
- Honeywell EBI software added to manage heating, cooling and door access systems.
- Replaced paper course evaluations with an online version
- Ayotte Auditorium added with energy-efficent heating, cooling, and lighting systems.
- Well drilled to water athletic fields lowering public water charges.
- All Windows replaced in GPH, Village, Administration buildings to save on heating costs.