Buildings receive the ‘green’ light

By March 26, Florida A&M University will install individual electric meters on buildings around the school as the Campus Wide Electrical Upgrade Project kicks off.

The “green” initiative to place meters on the buildings will help track the university’s use of energy, said Clinton Smith, a professional engineer for the FAMU Facilities Planning and Construction Department.    

“We are placing these meters on these transformers in order to more accurately identify where the university uses its electricity,” said Smith, who is also the co-chair of strategic planning for the FAMU Environment and Sustainability Council (ESC).            

ESC’s Chair Richard Gragg said monitoring the university’s energy is a vital part of the council’s strategic plan.           

“This helps ESC because it exemplifies the university’s commitment…to sustainability via energy management and conservation.”

According to Smith, meters will be mounted on 76 buildings.

He said the smaller buildings would be grouped together on the same transformer and meter.               

The Department of Energy said, transformers allow electricity to transmit efficiently over long distances.

Electricity travels along cables to a transformer and electricity changes from low voltage to high voltage.

High voltage helps electricity move longer distances.                   

“More accurately, we are placing the meters on the transformers feeding the buildings,” Smith said. “In some cases, there will be several buildings being fed from a single transformer – for example, Palmetto apartments and modular building groups around campus.”   

Once the university determines which buildings are waste energy and which are energy-efficient, Smith said the university administration would decide where to apply resources to gain the greatest energy effectiveness campus-wide. “The main goal is to reduce [the university’s] energy usage, by first identifying a baseline of energy usage, then identifying opportunities for improvements, and finally developing and implementing a plan to reduce overall consumption,” Smith said.                       

The university has contracted with two companies to help complete this project. Fred Wilson & Associates has been contracted to perform engineering and design services, and Metro Power has been contracted for the work of phase one and two.                            

Phase one has been completed, phase two is almost done and preparation for the design for Phase three is underway.  The goal of the project is to update the electrical infrastructure on the campus, smith said.                                           

The ESC also has implemented other processes to reduce and minimize energy usage on campus. Some of these procedures include the change to more energy-efficient lighting in building, new facilities and major renovations that would meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) Silver levels— which would repair steam leaks, reduce waste and repair piping insulation.       

Ryan Mitchell, a senior environmental specialist, said that the installations are a good idea and the university should properly manage resources to become more energy-efficient.      “We have to minimize energy consumption, reduce waste, and be more mindful of our wasteful habits,” Mitchell said. Monitoring FAMU’s energy use is a part of the ESC’s strategic plan.