FSU awarded U.S. Department of Energy grant to launch building training and assessment centers

By Stephanie Meador, posted 3 months ago
Image courtesy of U.S. DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Nov. 16 that Fayetteville State University will receive a $900,000 grant to establish a new Build Training and Assessment Center (BTAC) as a part of the Biden Administration’s Investing in America agenda. 

“In looking at the Biden administration investing in America, there's a tremendous amount of resources they have focused on this transition to the clean energy economy…our team across all state clean energy programs, we've managed about $16 billion ourselves, across the DOE it's about $100 billion, and then across federal government is about a half a trillion dollars focused on this clean energy transition. We're trying to support both the supply and demand side, meaning that we're investing in projects that upgrade buildings or that you know, bring new energy efficiency technologies to the buildings and things of that nature,” shared Dr. Henry McKoy, Director of the Office of State and Community Energy Programs. “We also realized that in order to get there, you need a capable workforce to do that, you need contractors who know how to do that work, and so we're investing in that supply side of the workforce as well.” 

The Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional BTAC will strengthen regional capacity to improve energy utilization efficiencies and provide training for high-quality, in-demand new energy management jobs. This effort is a collaboration between FSU and two key local partners, Fayetteville Technical Community College and Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

“It is our strong desire that the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Building Training and Assessment Center will be a catalyst for growth in energy management business opportunities and jobs,” said Darrell T. Allison, FSU Chancellor, in a press release. “Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Mitch Colvin who initially brought many of us to the table, we now look forward to collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy and our community partners to create expanded energy management capabilities and better position our students, citizens and the region to obtain jobs.”

 Through this new BTAC, FSU and its collaborating partners aim to:

  • Increase the number of individuals in the greater Fayetteville region with training in optimizing energy efficiency and environmental performance in commercial and institutional buildings, 
  • Provide energy assessment services for businesses and institutions, 
  • Promote promising new technologies to further improve building energy efficiencies, 
  • Help create new businesses able to improve energy utilization efficiencies.

As an HBCU and the state’s second oldest public university, FSU has a legacy of successfully serving historically underrepresented populations. This new workforce development endeavor continues that legacy as it contributes to the DOE’s objectives of enhancing new energy economy growth in historically underserved areas.

Mary MacPherson, Workforce Training Program Manager within Dr. McKoy’s office, explained that she and other staff members at the DOE loved FSU’s emphasis on collaboration within the community when reviewing their grant application.

“One thing that FSU did really well is really build on existing initiatives already underway in Fayetteville. So they mentioned an existing Go Green initiative at Cumberland County schools, as well as a plan to provide building assessments at the US Army installation at Fort liberty, and [they] are building upon existing state funds for construction at FSU. So the combination of all of those existing initiatives will really enable DOE funding to go that much further…it shows Fayetteville State has a lot of momentum that the BTACs can build upon, and will really steer them towards success,” remarked MacPherson.

FSU joins nine other universities as the inaugural cohort of BTAC sites. Along with the 17 new Industrial Assessment Centers, the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional BTAC is a part of a $40 million expansion to provide more clean energy workforce training and enhance building and manufacturing efficiency in America.

MacPherson shared that the DOE will be to get grant recipients their funding over the next few months in the hopes that they may begin to roll out their program in 2024. These programs will run for three years. MacPherson anticipates that initial steps taken will likely be in designing a curriculum, recruiting instructors and figuring out how to reach their target trainee population.

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