Drew Dumsch

Photo by Ben Macri

Drew Dumsch, Cofounder, President + CEO of the Ecology School

By Rachel Hurn

On Earth Day of this year the Ecology School, a nonprofit environmental education program for students of all ages, celebrated the completion of its new $14.1 million residential environmental learning center at River Bend Farm in Saco. The project, which includes a 144-bed dormitory and 7,000-square-foot dining commons, is significant on its own, but what is more impressive is that it produces more energy than it uses, thanks to 712 solar panels installed by ReVision Energy. The campus is one of 25 projects in the United States, and the first in Maine, to be built to the specifications of the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building certification. “As an environmentally focused organization that prioritizes innovative education,” says cofounder, president, and CEO Drew Dumsch, “if we don’t work with the building industry in Maine to do better, how can we authentically be a catalyst for sustainability, resiliency, and change?” With the Ecology School’s residential environmental learning programs put on hold for over a year due to pandemic restrictions, the staff developed all-new environmental education programs, such as a series of videos created for parents and teachers that eventually, with funding from Poland Spring, led to an online learning platform. “Now that Maine has a living, breathing, and thriving example of what a sustainable community can look like,” says Dumsch, “I hope River Bend Farm will become known as a place where people of all ages come to learn and live together through comfortable living in beautiful spaces, eating delicious food that is being grown on our own agroecology farm, and having fun exploring the nature trails on our 105-acre farm.”

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