The Ecology School
The Ecology School is building a new campus on River Bend Farm in Maine.

Environmental program says new campus will be the most sustainable in the Northeast

Dec. 2, 2019
The Ecology School, a nonprofit environmental education program in Maine, is building a net positive energy campus on a farm.

The Ecology School, an environmental education program in Saco, Maine, is building what it says will be the most sustainable campus in the Northeast.

The school says in a news release that its new campus is being constructed on River Bend Farm, a 105-acre farm on the Saco River in Southern Maine.

"What started out as a dream—our very own green campus on the banks of the beautiful Saco River-is now becoming a reality," says Drew Dumsch, president/CEO and founder of the school. "Upon completion, The Ecology School will be the most sustainable building in the Northeast, offering not only experiential programming but also modeling conservation-in-action."

The Ecology School is a nonprofit ecology education center that enables students to learn by their natural inclinations, engaging in all five senses to discover the inner workings of the world around them. Through hands-on, experiential programming, students learn to become stewards of the environment as they explore local forests, fields, and food systems.

Since 1999, The Ecology School has hosted more than 185,000 students and teachers from across the country.

The construction will include a 9,000-square-foot dormitory for visitors and a 7,000-square-foot dining commons built with more than 200,000 board feet of local Maine wood. To support the project's goal of producing 105 percent net positive energy, the buildings will contain 718 solar panels. Additionally, the campus will include a non-combustion, all electric-powered kitchen, the first of its kind.

The campus will also feature permaculture landscaping, a working agroecology farm, and other "live what you learn" educational assets built to the specifications of The Living Building Challenge 3.1 certification, the world's most rigorous building performance standard.

"The Ecology School could not fulfill our vision for this project alone," says Dumsch. "We are grateful to our partner businesses, true catalysts in green building, who are driven by best practices in sustainability and a love of Maine's natural beauty. Our partners are continually demonstrating their commitment to our new River Bend Farm home. Together, we will help heal people and the planet."

The Ecology School has received a $8,660,000 loan from the U.S. Department of  Agriculture's Rural Development's Community Facilities Direct Loan and Guaranteed Loans program to help build the campus. 

Architects working on the project are Kaplan Thompson, Scott Simons, Briburn, and Richardson & Associates.

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