Lynn University professor sees a benefit to National Campus Sustainability Day

Sustainability expert plans to take a team back to national EPA competition

Published Oct. 16, 2013

Frank LucasLynn University’s assistant professor of scientific literacy/environmental studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, Frank Lucas, sees a real value in National Campus Sustainability Day, and believes the university is on the right track as it works to reduce its environmental impact, increase the sustainability of its operations and encourage student involvement in sustainability efforts—such as Lynn students’ continued competition in a national EPA competition.

Annual events such as National Campus Sustainability Day are “extremely important for students since they help build their awareness of sustainability issues and understand the goals Lynn is trying to achieve with the projects currently underway,” Lucas said. “The new Central Energy Plant, J-Term citizenship programs, Green Speaker series and other programs are working together to make a real difference, and I believe students understand that.”

Lynn’s sustainability committee was launched in 2010 to oversee various efforts across campus grouped into five disciplines: Community Education, Energy and Transportation, Landscape and Ecology, Water, and Waste and Materials. These efforts are highlighted on Lynn’s intranet site’s Going Green page.

Biggest impacts on Lynn's campus: 

Lucas is also the faculty adviser for the Lynn University Sustainability Club. He says it has two goals this year. One is for the club to maintain a database that tracks the progress of Lynn’s carbon foot print reduction efforts over several years. The other is to apply for additional grants from the Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Program, one in energy production and one in water purification, and return to the national competition.

national EPA P3 award competition 

Last year, Lynn’s solar-powered water cleaning project was selected as one of the 44 out of approximately 2,500 applicants to be awarded the P3 Phase I grant of $15,000 to continue their research and prepare for the P3 Phase II competition as part of the EPA’s 9th Annual National Sustainability Design Expo. The winner receives $90,000 in Phase II funding to help bring their project to real-world application. It was the first year Lynn competed nationally (one of only 10 new schools) against internationally recognized engineering powerhouses such as Cornell University, Purdue University and the University of Florida.

Florida’s Energy Future

Lucas feels solar energy should be an increasing part of how Floridians get their electricity. However, he does not think large scale solar farms are the best implementation of photovoltaic technology. Rather, for Lucas, deploying the technology through housing to ensure more homes are built with solar panels seems to be the most promising method. This can provide a financial benefit to the homeowner who can sell any surplus power back to Florida Power & Light (FP&L) and by doing so, increase the amount of power available in the electrical grid which helps make the grid more stable and less prone to blackouts. As Lucas puts it, “Having economic benefits built into sustainability efforts is doing a lot to make them more popular.”

More on Lucas

Frank Lucas is an assistant professor of environmental studies and scientific literacy in Lynn University’s College of Arts and Sciences. He has scientific interests and expertise in alternate energy solutions, global warming, medical science and system engineering.

Lucas came to Lynn in 2008 following a long career in product development. He has developed over 100 commercial products and authored 13 U.S. patents and three European patents. In 1981, he was the principal investigator for an alternate energy grant that used crushed sugarcane stalks as the starting material to enzymatically convert cellulose to fermented alcohol for fuel using solar distillation to harvest alcohol. In addition, Lucas is a partner in a NASCAR short track race car and served as the crew chief responsible for suspension race set up.

In his spare time, Lucas becomes somewhat of the Johnny Appleseed of Maine, returning there every spring to plant trees on his 150-acre plot. He has planted 8,000 trees so far and will be going back in May 2014 to plant 500 yellow pine trees. The first trees he planted are over 25-feet tall now. He also has an “off the grid” home on his Maine property that he and his family built back in 1997.