EPA Campus Rainworks 2020

Florida International University (FIU), located in Miami-Dade County, has two campuses and an Engineering Center (EC) that rely on evaporative cooling towers and central chillers to maintain temperature and humidity inside buildings. From July 2017 to June 2020, the FIU EC used over 14 million gallons of utility-supplied potable water per year to make up for evaporative cooling losses in the campus central chiller plant with a cost of over $130,000 annually. Water is sometimes a limited resource, and the Water and Sewer Department (MD-WASD) promotes water conservation as a core ethic. MD-WASD has implemented water restrictions many times in past decades, with some permanent restrictions enforced year-round, as all area water is supplied by wells in the Biscayne Aquifer, which is being adversely affected by saltwater intrusion from population-driven pumping drawdown and sea-level rise. Our project proposes using remotely operated and self-cleaning rainwater harvesting systems to capture rainwater from solar panel canopies and green infrastructures such as green roofs and green facades to reduce demand for potable water and electricity at the EC while also improving the campus aesthetics. The project has multiple benefits, including flooding reduction during heavy rainfall and promoting carbon sequestration by using green infrastructures. This project and other EC components will showcase alternative energy and climate-resilience elements for tours by K-12 and college students on-campus and use augmented reality demonstrations and interactive activities at off-campus and virtual community events. Findings are transferable to commercial, institutional and industrial buildings relying on chilled water plants for cooling. 


Augmented Reality, HoloLens 2, Data Visualization, Sea Level Rise, Public literacy





Faculty and Staff Advisors: Dr. Arturo S. Leon (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering); Biayna Bogosian (Department of Architecture); Nicholas Ogle (College of Arts, Sciences, and Education); Matthew J. Welker (Principal, MAST@FIU); Stuart Grant (Department of Facilities Planning

Student Team: Linglong Bian, Vivek Verma (Hydraulic Engineering); Sumit R. Zanje, Zeda Yin (Mechanical Engineering); Dogukan Ozecik (Civil Engineering); Jianwei Li (Engineering Management); Jennyfer Hernandez, Alejandro Loayza (Green Infrastructure Design); Ligia Filguieras, David Diez (Information Visualization)


Environmental Protection Agency