Prerequisite: "Restoration and Use of Natural Hydrology" outdoor interpretive sign (1 of 4)
The entirety of Western Campus comes into view from about one mile up, revealing sustainability features of interest to humans -- and birds. While the map does justice to point out what's where, nothing compares to a direct encounter, like the thrill and spectacle of a flock of feathered friends that dropped in to visit the rain gardens near Western Dining Commons. Habitats created, restored and protected are just some of the features awaiting discovery on Western Campus. Use the map to guide your own journey of discovery! (Download a printable map.)
Offering a walk-up view of its equipment, the (1) Geothermal Heat Exchange Facility (GHX), uses 315 wells, 600 feet deep, to provide efficeint heating and cooling to these new (Silver pending) LEED builidngs: (2) Hillcrest Residence Hall, (3) Beechwood Residence Hall, (4) Stonebridge Residence Hall, and (5) Western Dining Commons. The (6) Steam Plant burns coal or natural gas. Starting in 2016, annual coal use will be limited to meet Federal Regulations. 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.
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. (A) 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. (B) 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 irrigate half of Cook Field. (C, D) Perennial Gardens of native plantings, once established, require minimal watering and weed control. (E) 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. (F) Stepped Rain Gardens, with water-tolerant vegetation, prevent stream overload and invite visitors to step off the pavement for a closer look. (G) Patterson Pond displays a level that rises and drops as it detains rainwater that fell around Maplestreet Station and Etheridge Residence Hall (both LEED Silver). (H) Duck Pond is the final management feature on campus before water continues downhill to Collins Creek, moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. (I) Freedom Summer Memorial marks the meaning of young lives dedicated to advancing voting rights, and is a reminder that sustainability at Miami includes Western's strong legacy of social justice and responsibility. (J) Current and future LED-illuminated Western Walk. (K) Best location to view the vegetated sedum roofs on buildings 1 and 5 (but you'll need to step up to each building to see their rain chains and rain gardens).