Rainwater project saves campus green


Although Florida A&M’s colors are orange and green, this Sunday the university will be going all the way green with a rainwater collection project. Taking part in the 350.org’s global initiative to tackle climate change, “Do 10 for 10-10-10” campaign, students’ faculty and staff are being challenged to make 10 sustainability changes in their lifestyle by October 10, 2010.  

10-10-10 will be a Global Work Party, where over 6,000 events all over the world will be coming together to plant trees, install solar panels and work in community gardens. FAMU will be taking it a step further and installing a rainwater tank system and a irrigation system that will be an asset to the campus, as well as an long term effort to move towards a more eco-friendly campus. 

“The rainwater collection system will improve FAMU’s campus beauty, based on sustainable practices,” said FAMU’s Green Coalition co-adviser, Jaqueline Hightower. “It will have all native plants, trees and recycled materials to cover the ground and no maintenance is necessary. The area can be used for lounging, it will have picturesque scenery with a wildflower bed and shady areas.”

Located near Jackson-Davis Hall, a small tank will collect rainwater off the roof of the building, a solar panel will pump water into the tank and will wean the building off the city’s water system. The tank will save the university money and take it another step closer toward going green.

“This is not just about tree hugging,” said Ryan Mitchell,senior environmental specialist at FAMU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

“A traditional irrigation system goes through city water. If we can eliminate that process and use rainwater, we can save that money. Start small and pretty much test the concept at Jackson-Davis Hall and then start to use this on buildings throughout FAMU’s campus,” Mitchell said.

The project must have at least 70 percent student involvement, according the Home Depot’s ” Retool Your School” grant given to complete the project. Landscape architecture students designed the landscape that serves as the canvas for the irrigation system. 

“Landscape architecture students are very pleased to contribute to not only the beauty but the sustainability of this campus,” said Matt Powers, associate professor at the School of Architecture. “Most projects that they work on do not ever get built. The fact that students can come up with an idea and see it come to fruition is really gratifying.” 

Rainwater Collection still needs student volunteers, as the project is slated to begin and be completed on the same day: 10-10-10. Hours are from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Refreshments and music will be provided. 

Mitchell encourages all students to take part in the project that will remain a significant addition to FAMU’s campus for years to come.

“What pleases me most is that this is for the students and by the students,” said Mitchell. “

For more information about volunteering, contact Ryan Mitchell at Ryan.mitchell@famu.edu.