In 2011, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree lauded the opening of Southern Maine Community College’s new Sustainability and Energy Alternatives Center as a step toward breaking our dependence on oil.

The pressure house was “one of the first in the country,” SMCC President Ronald Cantor told the Bangor Daily News, describing the opening as “a milestone in the history of Maine’s community college system.”

Cantor announced steps the school pledged to take in pursuit of greater energy efficiency. He announced plans to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, but failed to do so.

Cantor announced scholarships for students looking to study sustainability or energy efficiency and the launch of a new building science and sustainability certificate program via classes on weatherization and green building design.

SMCC received a $375,000 grant from Efficiency Maine and a MaineHousing grant worth roughly $100,000 for equipment and the pressure house. This was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create the center.

The college has solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems on campus and installed a campuswide system to track buildings’ energy and water usage.


John Brautigam, Sustainability and Energy Alternatives Center director, told Mainebiz that he wanted to see the center expand its reach, training students for a different energy future: “We want to get into more advanced renewable energy and expand into wind, tidal, solar, biomass and wood pellets.”

Brautigam’s dream of expanding its reach, training students for a different energy future, never really happened.

In 2017, just six years since it concept, SMCC is planning to shut this building down, and the program while putting the equipment in storage.

Sustainable practices are what we do to help our communities, suburbs, towns, farms and open spaces. “Envisioning the future” is part of the SMCC logo, but it is only words – no action.

Harry Applin

North Waterboro

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