Skip to Main Content

UNF and JEA celebrate grand opening of the JEA Sustainable Solutions Lab

UNF President Moez Limayem and JEA Chief Operating Officer Raynetta Curry Marshall cutting ribbon at new Sustainable Solutions LabJEA and the University of North Florida are once again collaborating to support clean and renewable energy education and research, through the establishment of the new JEA Sustainable Solutions Lab at UNF. 

Made possible through a five-year financial commitment from JEA, the Solutions Lab will provide UNF undergraduate and graduate students hands-on opportunities to learn about clean and renewable energy technology and conduct related research in a dedicated space on campus.  

As part of the collaboration, UNF students will be working directly with JEA experts on clean energy projects, while JEA staff and UNF faculty work together to develop relevant academic programming related to green energy. The lab will be a hub for research to develop sustainable solutions for JEA and other industries. 

JEA has long partnered with UNF, originally providing support in 2001 for a Clean and Renewable Energy Lab. That gift created one of the most successful research labs in UNF history, resulting in more than $18 million in research funding through federal, state and private sources. This latest collaboration furthers that work and helps to ensure a growing pipeline of engineers, scientists and other industry professionals with knowledge and experience to contribute to the economic development in Northeast Florida. To date, more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students have participated in JEA/UNF research and education projects.  

A UNF-JEA employee showing off machinery at the new Sustainable Solutions Lab“JEA’s initial commitment to UNF in 2001 was to start a clean and renewable energy lab,” said Dr. James Fletcher, associate professor in the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction and director of the Clean and Renewable Energy Lab at UNF. “That donation was seed money that allowed us to design educational labs and classes within our curriculum and build interest in clean energy, workforce and research projects. In turn, we have one of the most successful engineering research labs in the state university system.”  

Fletcher said JEA’s latest commitment expands the work of clean and renewable energy into sustainable solutions including green transportation and water security.  

“We’re lucky to be working in this topical field,” said Fletcher. “Our students are very interested in this field and you see their enthusiasm for working on sustainable solutions.” 

“We are so excited about this renewed collaboration with JEA to create this Sustainable Solutions Lab,” said UNF President Moez Limayem. “JEA’s support will help our students get the hands-on experience they need to make an impact in areas related to water sustainability and clean and renewable energy. This is the kind of mutually beneficial relationship that not only helps our local partners but also gives our students incredible experience before they graduate,” he said. 

UNF-JEA employee showing President Limayem and JEA Chief Operating Officer Raynetta Curry Marshall machinery in the new Sustainable Solutions labWhile JEA exists to meet the electric, water and sewer demands of local customers, the authority is committed to environmental responsibility to ensure that resources are available for future generations. This dual goal is made possible through customer education efforts and partnerships like this one to develop talent and support sustainability research and practices that will protect our resources.  

JEA Chief Operating Officer Raynetta Curry Marshall participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Dr. Limayem and said the partnership is a win-win for both organizations.  

“Improving the quality of life in our community through sustainable energy is at the core of what we do at JEA,” said Curry Marshall. “Investing in our students – who are the future, and our community is what it’s all about. We are in this heart and soul and glad to join this partnership.”     

Student projects already underway in the lab include small-scale, operational microgrid solar panel systems, solar photovoltaic projects, solar thermal and internal combustion engines, a hydrogen-fueled, fuel cell golf cart and autonomous vehicle projects.  

“It’s great having the backing of JEA,” said John Davis, a UNF senior studying mechanical engineering. “Their funding helps support our research. I feel like I’m helping to move things forward as it pertains to clean energy, utilizing available resources to better the environment.” 

The lab is housed in UNF’s School of Engineering in the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction.