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For its outstanding efforts in environmental protection, Colby College in Waterville received a 2004 Maine Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence on November 5 in Augusta. Governor John Baldacci presented the awards to focus attention on the environmental accomplishments of 18 businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the state.

This was Colby’s second Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in three years, following recognition in 2002 from then-Governor Angus King. In addition last April the college received an Environmental Merit Award from the New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizing exceptional work and commitment to the environment in 2003.

This year’s award honored Colby for initiatives including new energy efficient washing machines that save some $10,000 annually in water and energy costs, motion sensors that power down vending machines when no one is around, and a new energy-efficient ceiling installed in the Alfond Ice Arena. The college’s electricity contract, which taps 100 percent sustainable energy from hydropower and wood waste instead of coal, was credited with huge reductions in nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide emissions. A contest among students to see which rooms in the on-campus Alfond Senior Apartments could use the least electricity resulted in some students cutting their electricity consumption in half.

Colby formed the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) in 2000 to raise environmental issues and help manage initiatives on campus. The EAG, a collaboration among students, faculty and administrators, has enhanced the College’s efforts to adopt environmentally friendly practices. The group helped with planning to reduce the adverse impact of storm water run-off from the campus as the college opened a large area for development around the new Colby Green. It also participated in the decision to install geothermal heating and cooling in the alumni center currently under construction — the first academic building in Maine constructed to meet national “green building” standards.