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BENNINGTON -- Bennington College was recently recognized by a nonprofit energy rating organization for its institution-wide sustainability practices.

According to a release distributed by the college, Efficiency Vermont honored the school at the end of October for achieving the highest energy savings of any college or university that participated in the organization's two-year Energy Leadership Challenge. Nearly 70 institutions and businesses throughout Vermont participated in the challenge.

Bennington College was one of eight colleges that participated.

According to the release, each entity was "challenged" to achieve a 7.5 percent energy savings beginning in July 2011 and ending in June of this year.

Bennington was one of only two colleges in Vermont to achieve the goal, consequently reducing its energy consumption by 12.4 percent by completing 11 efficiency projects -- the most completed out of any participating organization, according to the release.

Efficiency Vermont Spokeswoman Kelly Lucci cited Bennington College's accomplishment as "huge."

"Such an impressive achievement is a sign of great dedication to the environment and of using energy wisely," Lucci said.

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In an effort to reduce its electric, fuel oil, wood, and water usage, the college completed projects throughout a multitude of buildings across its campus.

According to the release, projects included the installation of digital control heating and cooling systems, occupancy sensor lighting technology, thermal glass windows, and energy-efficient showerheads in every student house.

This particular Efficiency Vermont challenge coincides with the college's long-term goal of achieving total carbon neutrality by 2030.

According to the release, Bennington College is a signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

Bennington College President Mariko Silver, a member of the ACUPCC Steering Committee as of this fall, said the recognition from Efficiency Vermont is a "great credit" to the college's staff.

"It reflects their hard work and dedication to ensuring Bennington College is a responsible steward of our natural resources," Silver said. "From the food that we serve to the fuel that we use, Bennington's commitment to sustainability aims to minimize our environmental impact and operational costs, while maximizing the comfort and performance of our buildings, as well as the quality of life of our students."

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.


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