Florida A&M University (FAMU) unveiled the new Indoor Air Quality (“IAQ”) Center of Excellence (COE) on Wednesday, November 30. The COE is being established in partnership with Aura Air, a leading global provider of smart air technology based in Israel.
Led by Professor Victor Ibeanusi, Ph.D., dean of the FAMU School of the Environment, the COE will serve as the authoritative center for studying, testing, and analyzing indoor air quality in the State of Florida.
“The global pandemic raised the awareness of the role of contaminants such as COVID,” Ibeanusi said. “We have researchers; we have the capability of training students. There are zero professionals in this area. We aim to secure grants. We also aim to reach out to low-income communities to raise awareness. The good news is this Center is in the School of the Environment and we can do all of this.”
The partnership combines FAMU’s prestigious science and environment faculty and programs with the technical know-how and innovation from the world’s leading smart air technology company, Aura Air. Through the COE, FAMU and Aura Air will address the growing risks of polluted and poorly ventilated indoor spaces and climate-related changes to IAQ on Floridians.
The COE for IAQ will recommend methods and technology to effectively improve indoor air quality with active air monitoring, filtering, and ventilation. The Center will house IAQ-related studies and serve as an education hub to support a state-wide IAQ program. Research is already underway at the COE with several Aura Air devices on the FAMU campus. Faculty from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, as well as other schools, will be involved with the COE.
“These types of significant partnerships lead the way for the future of the United States and our global economy. We need research opportunities such as these, and we need partnerships across the colleges and schools,” said Interim Provost Allyson Watson, Ph.D. “It’s important to establish partnerships like these with corporations that can leverage opportunities for our students in areas of strategic emphasis.”
Aura Air, headquartered in Israel with global offices in the U.S. and India, created the world’s smartest data-driven air purification system, one that cleanses indoor air while vigilantly monitoring its quality in real-time. Aura Air’s award-winning and patented technology filters and disinfects indoor air through a unique four-stage purification process that captures and kills 99.9 percent of viruses, bacteria, germs, and allergens. Founded in 2018, Aura Air is now helping purify the air in homes, hospitals, schools, businesses, hotels, restaurants, buses, and nursing homes in more than 87 countries worldwide.
As the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) with a comprehensive engineering college, FAMU is well-positioned to collaborate with Aura Air on IAQ research and development, as well as to address real-world consequences.
“I think we’re doing something historical here to take a global company from Israel to work with one of the leading HBCU’s here in Tallahassee and to help the world with indoor air quality,” said Roei Friedberg, CEO of Aura Air Americas, who met Dean Ibeanusi at the FAMU EnergyFoodWater Nexus International Summit earlier this year. That set the stage for developing a partnership to address the largely overlooked issue of indoor air quality. Given the health threats posed by COVID-19, influenza A and RSV, Friedberg said, the COE is well-positioned.
“Our goal is to take the experience, expertise and knowledge of FAMU together with the technology, innovation and global partnerships of Aura Air and establish a place that will do research and make recommendations to tell the world how to address the future challenges,” said Friedberg, who called on industry leaders, government agencies, and policymakers to become partners in this initiative. “We want to use research and data to help them make better decisions or change policies. It could be another global pandemic; it could be energy efficiency challenges that we’re facing.”
The COE will facilitate workshops and training to educate the public on the importance of air quality monitoring and develop a State-wide IAQ Management Plan that includes:
- Training the next generation of air quality professionals,
- Improving energy efficiency in buildings,
- Supporting a state-wide air monitoring program, and
- Providing air filtration, purification, and monitoring solutions to government buildings, educational institutions, hospitals, and public transportation.