Sustainable Living Center is unique in USA

Sustainable Living Center is unique in United States

Front page, Friday, April 23, 2010; published online: 4/26/2010

As ancient walls continue to crumble the world over, a few new ones went up yesterday in Iowa’s hippest farmtown.

The Sustainable Living Center at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield was the scene of a modern-day barnraising. Walls were tilted and roof trusses placed during the Earth Day event.

The structure uses “whole tree” post and beam techniques.

“It will set a new standard for green building in America by being completely off the grid with respect to electricity, heating and cooling, water and waste,” MUM director of media relations Ken Chawkin said.

Innovative Design of North Carolina conceived the building to meet the Living Building Challenge, a standard for sustainable design introduced at the 2006 Greenbuild Conference in Denver, Colo. The SLC is the first to combine that standard with those of LEED platinum certification, Building Biology standards, and Maharishi Vedic architecture guidelines.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and is an internationally recognized third-party certification. Vedic architecture is based on Hindu traditions emphasizing the use of natural materials such as wood, bricks, adobe, stucco and marble.

“There’s no other building like this going up in the nation, or in the world for that matter, that we know of,” said Mike Nicklas, SLC co-designer and president of Innovative Design.

The company has created over 4000 structures that use renewable energy solutions. Nicklas participated in the first Earth Day in 1970.

The SLC building is slated for university occupation this fall.

“It’s a building that teaches,” Chawkin said. The SLC will provide students with classrooms, workshop, meeting room, greenhouse, kitchen, research lab, recycling center and offices.

In addition to embodying sustainability, the SLC will allow students to interactively monitor performance and energy efficiency.

MUM Sustainable Living Department head David Fisher, who helped plan the building, said the SLC will be a living, evolving project.

“The building itself is an educational tool, not just a passive one like most classroom buildings,” Fisher said. “It will provide participatory education where students will be continually adding to or altering the building and grounds, as well as systematically checking its effectiveness.”

The SLC is designed to be completely off-grid. Construction uses all non-toxic materials from local sources, as defined by the Living Building Challenge requirements.

All energy will be provided from solar panels on the building and from an outside wind turbine. Rainwater catchment will be the complete source of the building’s water, with purification of drinking water via ultraviolet technology.

Wastewater will be treated on-site using a constructed wetland. Natural daylighting will illuminate the entire interior. Geothermal technology will assist with heating and cooling.

None of the planned systems in the building are new or experimental, according to construction manager Dal Loiselle, who said the SLC uses “state-of-the-shelf” technologies.

“This building proves that we can meet our environmental goals for our built environment with the materials, technologies, and green building protocols we already possess,” Loiselle said.

Sustainability is a major focus at MUM, which has long promoted techniques for living in harmony with nature. The school was founded in 1974 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as an international center for teaching Transcendental Meditation.

MUM filed a climate action plan to be 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2020 as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, named in 2009 by as one of the nation’s 15 greenest mayors — alongside those of New York, Seattle and San Francisco — said the SLC holds promise for a sustainable future.

“Our city will benefit enormously by having this building on the campus of MUM as a demonstration of a new standard of design,” Malloy said.

The Sustainable Living Center includes material donations from nationally recognized leaders in green building materials, including Gerdau AmeriSteel, Pittsburgh Corning and United States Gypsum Corporation, as well as Green Building Supply of Fairfield.

Yesterday’s event was part of MUM’s tenth annual EcoFair, which runs from April 30 to May 2 at the Argiro Student Center, 1000 N. Fourth St., Fairfield.

2 comment(s) found

Prgressive!: 4/27/2010

Fairfield,Iowa/Maharishi University of Management is a creative outpost ~ of a life worth living; healthy, in tune with nature, cutting edge and friendly. Thank you to all involved.

Small Town USA: 4/26/2010

Its great to see even the small towns and universities going full swing into this Green thing. Whoo Hoo!

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2 Responses to “Sustainable Living Center is unique in USA”

  1. Directory Green Says:

    I found your website through Google searching for “eco-friendly”, I really like it!


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