Sustainability: Operational Indicators

Carbon Footprint

A comprehensive footprint update was calculated by Institute for the Environment & Sustainability (IES) graduate students as a professional service project (PSP), and was validated by Miami's Physical Facilities department. With annual CO2 equivalent emissions for the Oxford campus near 137,000 metric tons, 2012 emissions represent a 13% reduction compared to the 2008 baseline.

Carbon Action Plan

A preliminary Carbon Action Plan was developed by the Sustainability Committee, informed by the Carbon Footprint, the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and by the commitments of other universities. When finalized, the plan will provide a framework for reductions of carbon emissions beyond the goals set by the current Sustainability Commitments & Goals (SCAG).

Transportation Study/Commuter Survey

As part of the carbon footprint PSP, IES students conducted a transportation survey of faculty, staff and students. It showed a 7% increase in bus ridership for commuter trips to campus. Walking to and on campus also increased by about 10% during the 5‐year period.

Lean (and Green)

Lean is a process to improve quality, responsiveness and productivity, and to reduce costs by analyzing work and finding ways to improve it. Miami has reduced or avoided costs and enhanced revenues for a 5-year financial gain of $28.3 million via Lean processes—and one-third of the projects were identified as "Green," one of the university's break-through Lean objectives.

Ten-Year Energy Reduction Milestone Keeps Pace with Growth

Ohio HB-251 called for a 20% reduction in energy use per square foot (across all 3 campuses) relative to 2004. Miami's sustained and focused effort exceeded the requirement, demonstrating a nearly 22% non-weather adjusted reduction. While square footage increases yield less of an environmental benefit, our total energy consumption in 2014 was no higher than it was 10 years ago, even though square footage increased 27% during the period.

This graph shows that Miami has exceeded Ohio HB-251's requirement for a 20% reduction in energy use relative to 2004, having reached target levels in 2012.

Single-stream Recycling and Composting

Single‐stream recycling was fully implemented during the reporting period. Placement of paired trash and recycling cans across campus made recycling as easy as throwing away trash. Collection of compostable materials takes place at the Culinary Support Center (CSC) and 7 dining operations. The solid waste diversion rate is currently 25%. This figure tracks "household" waste (disposed of by campus users) and compostable materials. Many other materials are recycled as part of campus operations.

Sustainable Features on Western Campus

New LEED-Buildings Opened in Fall 2014 

The Geothermal Heat Exchange Facility (GHX) uses 315 wells, 600 feet deep, to provide efficient heating and cooling to these new (Silver pending) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) buildings:

  • Hillcrest Residence Hall
  • Beechwood Residence Hall
  • Stonebridge Residence Hall
  • Western Dining Commons

The Steam Plant burns coal or natural gas. Starting in 2016, annual coal use will be limited to meet federal regulations. Four hundred (400) future geothermal wells will ultimately decouple most of Western Campus from this plant, per Miami's master-planned commitment to stop burning coal by 2025.

Grounds: Restoration and Use of Natural Hydrology

Rainwater from the surrounding buildings and grounds is slowed, cooled, and cleaned using best management practices as it moves southward and downhill across Western Campus.

  • Upper Pond, designed to provide the heat exchange equivalent of 30 wells, collects rainwater and up to 5000 gallons per day of air conditioning condensate. The fountain provides aeration.
  • Lower Pond, a stormwater detention basin, accepts water from the Upper Pond and collects runoff from a 25-acre basin that includes Bishop Woods and Cook Field. It also irrigates half of Cook Field.
  • Perennial gardens of native plantings, once established, require minimal watering and weed control.
  • Pools in the creek provide places for sediment to settle out. Vegetation beside the creek provides a natural buffer that shades and cools the water, provides homes for wildlife, and helps keep excess nitrogen (typical of runoff from chemically fertilized grounds) from entering the watershed.
  • Stepped Rain Gardens, with water-tolerant vegetation, prevent stream overload and invite visitors to step off the pavement for a closer look.
  • Patterson Pond displays a level that rises and drops as it detains rainwater that fell around Maplestreet Station and Etheridge Residence Halls (both LEED Silver).
  • Duck Pond is the final management feature on campus before water continues downhill to Collins Creek, moving toward the Gulf of Mexico.