Sustainability at Bates
At A Glance
- Bates is a Carbon Neutral school – one of only a handful of schools in the nation to hit the goal of becoming carbon neutral.
- Bates consistently ranks in the Top 10 Green Schools in the nation. In 2021, we were ranked as the #5 Greenest School by the Princeton Review. We were also ranked #1 in Energy, #4 in Air & Climate, and #8 overall by the American Association of Sustainability in Higher Education.
- The first campus nationwide to use Renewable Fuel Oil, a wood-based, liquid fuel, Bates is heated by clean and sustainably-sourced energy.
- The Commons dining program uses local, organic food and has a waste diversion rate of over 80%. This means that the vast majority of the waste stream avoids the landfill by being recycled or composted.
- 100% of our electricity is renewable, and we are in the process of building a local solar array that will account for three-quarters of our campus load.
- Bates has an organic, student-run garden. The Plot provides vegetables and produce for the Dining Commons, and serves as an educational space for students, faculty, and community members. Learn more here!
As humans continue to consume resources in constantly growing communities, environmentally responsible behavior must now be an imperative rather than an option. At Bates, sustainability is the norm. In the spring of 2019, Bates announced carbon neutrality, one year ahead of schedule! This was no small task, as Bates is equivalent to a small town in terms of energy consumption. Our path doesn’t stop here, however, and Bates will continue to push for sustainable and efficient practices and technology. It takes the cooperation and support of students, faculty, and staff alike. The team of student EcoReps work behind the scenes to organize events, spread public awareness, and coordinate with facilities and administrative staff to ensure we are doing the best we can regarding sustainability and ecologically conscious behavior. Click here to access the 2019 Bates College Carbon Report!
Entering 2019 with campus greenhouse gas emissions down a full 95% from our baseline year of 2001, Bates announced in May that the college has become carbon neutral. This achievement is the result of energy efficiency measures, and switching to a renewable fuel in our central steam plant. Bates College is the first college in the nation to use this brand new fuel – known as Renewable Fuel Oil. It is a liquid, wood-based fuel and has a emissions profile drastically lower than fossil fuels. Because of our new fuel and our precipitous reduction in emissions, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education – the preeminent international sustainability rating agency – has ranked Bates in 4th place worldwide in the clean Energy category last year, and 6th place for any year.
Bates is working tirelessly toward carbon neutrality. In order to tackle future emissions, we need to understand our past. Here’s a look at our CO2 emissions since 2001. We’ve decreased our campus carbon footprint a full 95% from 2001 levels, mostly resulting from our energy efficiency measures, as well as switching to a wood-based liquid fuel in our central steam plant. Now, in the spring of 2019, Bates has announced carbon neutrality, completing three decades of work to achieve this goal!
If you have a great idea for advancing sustainability at Bates, we want to hear about it. We offer funding for innovative, impactful ideas for our campus. Funding ranges from roughly $200-2000 per project. All staff, students, and faculty are encouraged to apply. More about Bates Sustainability Grants.
This past Fall, Bates students helped install a solar array on the roof of our Shortridge coastal research facility. The installation is large enough to power 100% of the building’s electrical loads throughout the year. Click here for real-time energy monitoring of our solar array.
Bates has consistently received a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) – the main international sustainability rating agency – for outstanding work in the sustainability field. In particular, we have been recognized because of our drastic reduction in our carbon emissions, and our active student body.
Check out our campus sustainability map here, showcasing Bates’ green buildings throughout campus.
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The Sense and Sustainability Interview Series was created to tell the untold stories of the care that Bates students, faculty, and staff have for the earth. Click the photo to read the full interviews!
Our Sustainability Team
The Bates College EcoReps is a collaborative team of student environmental leaders who work toward promoting environmentally responsible behavior on campus through peer-to-peer outreach. This dynamic group of students is charged with designing and initiating projects that foster environmental stewardship and bring Bates closer to its sustainability goals. Some of their tasks include working on recycling and composting campaigns, analyzing energy datasets, and coordinating events such as EcoService Day. They are currently focused on 4 main objectives:
- Bring our sustainability narrative to life and foster environmental awareness through outreach and campus-wide events
- Manage waste at Bates through compost and recycling initiatives
- Analyze our energy use and carbon footprint data to formulate a carbon plan
- Expand our project budget through grants and innovative modes of funding
You can apply to become a Bates EcoRep or EcoRep Intern (first-year position) with our Bates EcoRep Application.