Walk past the Graham Center building’s entrance near Primera Casa, and you’ll see a new eco-friendly feature ready to use: four solar-powered tables, complete with renewable energy panels and fiberglass canopies.
The tables, manufactured by SolGreen Solutions, allow for plug-in and charging of devices like lap tops and cell phones by using renewable energy as its source of electricity. The solar tables were funded by the Student Government Association – Modesto Maidique Campus (SGA-MMC); Graham Center staff members oversaw the tables’ installation.
“It was about sending the message that student government was a believer in the importance of the environment,” SGA-MMC President Alian Collazo says. “I think it’s important because we are at the forefront of climate change here in Miami, at the forefront of sea level rise, at the forefront of these very big environmental issues we’re facing. And FIU is the place where a lot of the research is done about how to go about making the changes and adapting to global climate change.”
In 2007, FIU committed itself to reducing its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). FIU has been doing its part to care for the environment ever since.
Just a few of these initiatives include FIU’s carpool program, numerous recycling initiatives throughout campus, and having all new buildings constructed since 2007 meet at least LEED’s (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating standards – which means new buildings like MANGO and the Student Academic Support Center were built with green strategies in mind. In terms of energy, FIU has been ranked as the top energy efficient university in the Florida State University System more than five years in a row.
Collazo says having the solar-powered tables continues to add to the great work FIU is doing and reaffirms students’ commitment to going green. He adds that the idea for this kind of project had been in the making for some time – since he was speaker of the student senate. He was one of the students who started working on the project two years ago, and today, finds it especially rewarding to see it come to fruition under his presidency.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Arneson says these tables are a testament to the importance of SGA and student participation at the university.
“Students are leaving a lasting imprint on campus,” Arneson says. “The Panther monuments on both campuses were funded through SGA, the renovation of the Wolfe University Center was funded through SGA. Now, the student body leadership is modeling the way on sustainability. They are not just talking about how important it is to be world’s ahead, they’re showing it.”