Miller School faculty and staff will soon be recycling even more plastic, paper, and glass and walking through courtyards with native vegetation. Some will even be flushing with recycled water. It’s all part of the plan to embrace Green U, a campus-wide program designed to help make the University more environmentally responsible.

Working with the nonprofit organization Green Seal, the University is seeking to achieve certification as a business operating in a sustainable manner.

“We learned we have to do a better job with recycling,” says Ken Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety at the University. “That means we have to make recycling easily available for everyone. Those are things we can do right away.”

At a meeting on the Coral Gables campus, it became clear that the biggest challenge lies in educating employees and students. The rest is making recycling convenient for people. “If they see it, they will be more likely to do it. If they don’t, -forget it,” says Denis Hector, associate dean of the School of Architecture. The Miller School campus is actually ahead of the Gables campus in recycling paper, mostly because of requirements to comply with HIPAA privacy regulations.

Other issues are already being addressed. Cleaning services at the Miller School already use green-certified cleaning products that are more environmentally friendly and less toxic. “We do not use anything chlorine-based,” Capezzuto says. “Other products can still disinfect without the hazard of using chlorine.” In addition, campus vacuum cleaners are fitted with HEPA filters for more efficient and cleaner air exhaust.

The Miller School has begun building environmentally sensitive features into recent construction projects. The Clinical Research Building, for example, derives much of its light from natural sources, reducing the need for electricity. The huge windows in the Medical Wellness Center, located on the top floor of the CRB, offer more than an amazing view of downtown Miami—they provide a great source of natural light. The facility is considered a “green building.”

Future building plans call for a real commitment to the Green U principles. The Biomedical Research Institute, currently under construction, will feature several components designed to provide better energy efficiency. Condensation from air conditioning units in the top floors, for instance, will be collected and used to flush toilets in bathrooms in the bottom four floors of the building.

The institute is the first University building to be registered with the United States Green Building Council for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Construction plans for all future buildings will incorporate features to improve efficiency and save on electricity and other costly components.

It will cost more in the beginning, Capezzuto says, but the University will enjoy increased savings in reduced fuel expenses, enhanced occupant comfort and health, and even extended building life.