Green: It’s what the environment has and the economy wants

The Mission Green Student Association came together with Focus the Nation, a national environmental group to host a town-hall meeting. The meeting, held on April 18, discussed the future of “green” jobs and how companies that create renewable energy can provide jobs for graduating students.

The event started with a speech by FAU president Frank T. Brogan who emphasized the responsibility that everyone should take to keep the environment in its current state.

“Each of us has a common sense responsibility to be a better steward of our environment,” Brogan says. “We’re [going to] be impacting our environment each and every day and handing it off to a generation that will inherit something better than we did.”

Speeches by Kevin M. Ross, president of Lynn University, Dennis P. Gallon, president of PBCC and Boca Raton mayor Susan Whelchel followed.

Brogan also expressed pride in FAU’s College of Engineering building, which is under construction, but has been platinum-certified by the United States Green Business Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

After the speeches, the town hall portion of the event started. A panel of energy experts was there to answer audience questions. That panel included FAU directors such as Jaap Vos, associate professor and director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning, James Murley, chair of the state government’s Florida Energy and Climate Commission and director of FAU’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, and Alexander Van Mecl, president of the Mission Green Student Association.

“[The Florida Energy and Climate Commission is] working with the state university system to try to help them, assist them, and–where we can–financially support them in creating new programs that will react to these opportunities in both energy and climate change,” says Murley on what Tallahassee is doing to implement programs in Florida’s university system that will teach students about “green” energy.

Not only can students expect to see more green jobs, but FAU will be providing several new courses about renewable energy.

John Hardman, coordinator of research programs at FAU, will be teaching three courses in the fall 2009 semester including “Sustainability and Leadership.” The class will deal with changing students’ understanding of how things work.

“[For example], supposing electricity [was] not the solution, [if] there [was] some other form of energy that could drive our machinery…and our computers that wasn’t electricity,” he explains. “So, we’re looking at radical reinvention of innovation.”

Hardman is also working with FAU’s freshman learning communities to bring a course on the basics of sustainability to freshman undergraduates in the fall that would cover the basics of sustainability.

“It is bringing students in to understand what it means and to get them introduced to the people who run housing; in terms of water efficiency, energy efficiency, learning about our recycling programs at FAU, and understanding what sustainability is,” he says.

Overall, Mission Green President Alexander Van Mecl was proud of FAU’s first annual Focus the Nation town-hall meeting.
“It went better than what we expected,” Van Mecl says. “We planned it for a hundred people … and [approximately] eighty more showed up.”

To learn more about Mission Green, go to their Web site at faumgsc.webs.com, or find them on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.