Buildings and Grounds
Much of Miami’s green growth follows LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building principals. These include not only energy concerns, but areas such as indoor environmental quality, water conservation, access to alternative transportation, natural hydrology, and rain water management.
In April 2011 President Hodge announced Miami University's Sustainability Commitments and Goals. To promote a more sustainable campus, the University voluntarily adopted a green-building certification standard called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), administered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Multiple green design, construction, and operational features can be found around, within, and sometimes behind, the walls of LEED buildings. These attributes embody Miami's commitment to student life and sustainability.
A LEED-certified building site is sensitive to existing ecosystems and attempts to minimize the negative effects of construction on the surrounding environment. The Armstrong Student Center (ASC) features a central, walkable site located close to multiple services and destinations; access to nearby public transit, offering students and visitors a convenient alternative to car travel; and open space preservation through the redevelopment of existing buildings and parking lots; and the addition of green space.
To be LEED-certified, buildings must make responsible use of one of our most precious resources, fresh water. This category rewards projects for utilizing water efficient fixtures, as well as minimizing the amount of potable water needed for irrigation and waste conveyance. The ASC features native and adapted landscaping requiring less water and maintenance; efficient fixtures in toilet rooms, changing rooms, and food preparation areas.
Energy and Atmosphere
A LEED-certified building reduces energy consumption and related emissions through smart and efficient mechanical and electrical systems. The ASC features highly efficient mechanical and electrical systems that maintain a quality building environment with less energy; performance verification, known as commissioning, to make sure all systems are as efficient as promised; and recycling of heat vented from coolers and other equipment to help preheat domestic hot water.
Materials and Resources
To promote sustainability green buildings re-use existing materials and buildings, use locally sourced materials where feasible, and promote recycling. The ASC features reuse of Gaskill and Rowan Halls within the new center, preserving their existing resources and embodied energy; recycling of materials during construction, and of paper, metal, plastic, glass, and cardboard every day thereafter; composting of kitchen food scrap; and use of locally sourced materials from within 500 miles of Oxford.
Indoor Air Quality
Green buildings protect indoor air quality by limiting polluting materials, maximizing natural daylight and views, and maintaining comfortable temperatures. The ASC features: a smoke-free environment for all to enjoy in and around the buildings; indoor air quality management during and after construction; low-emitting materials that protect human health by limiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs); and natural lighting and views.
With the construction of Hillcrest and Beechwood residence halls, rain that would have been slowed and partially absorbed by vegetated soil instead runs off roofs and impervious pavement at high velocity. Without the ponds, such rushing water would contribute to erosion and/or storm sewer overload (and flooding). Because the water table is high in this area, these ponds are lined with clay to prevent them from filling with groundwater.
Rocks and compostable coir logs are used along Western Campus’ restored waterways to minimize erosion. As the riparian buffer of surrounding vegetation matures, it will also help hold soil, filter incoming surface water, take up excess nutrients, lower water temperature, & provide shelter for wildlife.
Condensate from surrounding air conditioning equipment adds up to 5000 gallons of water per day to the upper and lower ponds. Water moving through coiled tubes below the pond bed provides the heat exchange capacity of 30 geothermal wells, in addition to the 315 geothermal wells beneath the ponds (and your feet!).
Rain Water Management
The lower pond, between Beechwood Hall and Oxford Trenton Road, is a detention basin designed to store and temporarily hold rainwater runoff from surrounding buildings and a 25-acre basin that encompasses the Bishop Woods area of campus to the west, and the 10 acres of Cook Field. After a rain event, pond water is slowly released to the channel near Beechwood Hall. When needed, water from the pond irrigates Cook Field’s natural turf.
At an elevation of 863 feet above sea level, pond water that is not evaporated or used for irrigation continues to flow downhill past the side of Beechwood, across Western Campus, to Collins Creek, Four Mile Creek, the Miami River, Ohio River, Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it is also used for drinking water, industrial processes (including agriculture and power generation), transportation, and recreation. Some portion will also seep into the earth to recharge groundwater.