Being the Polar Bears, it only makes sense that Bowdoin athletes incorporate the College’s goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2020 into their day-to-day team routines. Bowdoin Green Athletics (BGA) is a student-run organization that collaborates with administrators, faculty, staff and athletes to increase the positive impact that our fitness facilities and our athletic teams have on the environment.
BGA is inspired by the College’s recent steps to incorporate sustainability into its athletic operations. Both the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness and Sidney J. Watson Arena are LEED certified, with Watson being the first LEED certified collegiate hockey rink in the United States. In 2014, a 1.2 Megawatt solar array was installed at Farley Field House and Watson Arena as part of a larger array at the former Naval Air Station, projected to provide a combined 8% of Bowdoin's annual electricity use. Additionally, lights for Greason Pool were recently upgraded to more efficient LEDs, and occupancy controls were installed in Sargent Gymnasium to save significant amounts of electricity each year.
The main focus of BGA is the Efficiency Initiative, a student-designed challenge where all varsity teams commit to sustainability goals and compete for an award and cash prize. Challenges are tailored to each team and range from bringing recycling bags on bus trips or composting at home competitions to taking shorter showers or going trayless in the dining halls. Teams that complete all five challenges are invited to an end-of-season celebration with complimentary food from Bowdoin’s campus Pub. Each team can also choose to do an “above and beyond” challenge by creating their own unique task that promotes sustainability even further, qualifying them for the Green Athletics Award and cash prize, presented at the annual All-Sports Awards Banquet.
The 2014-2015 academic year was a very successful kick-off, with 14 teams completing all five challenges and over 22 teams completing at least one. Some notable “above and beyond” challenges included the Men’s Hockey team’s collection of recyclable bottle caps to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and the Volleyball team’s composting on the bus for every away game. The Crew team won the first-annual Green Athletics award for hosting an Erg-a-thon on campus that raised money for the local Nature Conservancy. The team received a $200 cash prize and is working with BGA to find a sustainability-minded purchase to benefit their program.
Bowdoin Green Athletics’ other major projects include:
- Rerun Shoes – an international program designed to donate used shoes to communities in Africa or upcycle worn shoes into track surfaces
- Food Foward – an organization focused on donating leftover food from team trips or home events to those in need within the Brunswick community
- EPA Game-Day Challenge – a recycling competition between athletic teams across the country from all Divisions at one home event during the fall season (Bowdoin has chosen the Football Homecoming Game)
BGA was founded in 2012 and has already made a major impact on campus in the way that athletes, coaches and spectators both consider and practice sustainable actions on the playing field, in the locker room and throughout their everyday lives. Raising awareness about how small actions can improve our impact on the environment and serve the College’s dedication to the Common Good – that is the mission of Bowdoin Green Athletics.
Go U (Green) Bears!