FAMU partners with U.S. Department of Energy to improve buildings

Florida A&M University is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to make 20 percent of its buildings more energy efficient within 10 years by joining the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative started by the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan.

The Climate Action Plan was introduced in 2013 and is focused on cutting down carbon pollution, a pledge President Obama made in 2009. His goal is to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

FAMU’s partnership with the DOE is being managed by the campus’ Sustainability Institute team. The Sustainability Institute was created by FAMU President Elmira Mangum to advance the campus’ research, teaching, and applications of sustainable solutions. 

“The Better Buildings Challenge is out of an initiative from President Obama to improve how buildings operate,” said. Abena Ojetayo, a chief sustainability officer. “We will see immediate savings and FAMU will be able to save millions. This is also a great learning opportunity to provide a living laboratory for students to learn not just in the books, but how we operate as a university.”

The institute also wants to engage students in the campus-wide initiative and will provide internships as well as a chance to assist with audits to interested students.

“Sustainability should be a top priority in all different facets of society. With our current day usage, we won’t be able to maintain our standard on a global level,” said William Worley, a senior construction engineering student from Atlanta. “My major falls in line with my personal passions; construction, construction methods, and sustainability energy usage, so the opportunity to help effect my campus in a positive manner is greatly regarded.”

Small changes in sustainability make great differences in saving money, time, and resources in the long run, according to Elizabeth Lewis, FAMU architecture professor.

“There are three pillars of sustainability: people, environment, and economy. Anything we do should include all three,” Lewis said. “It could save a lot of money that could help students. It’s the difference between a building lasting 20 years versus 100 years.”