By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Apr 23, 2012
It’s the ultimate green building, said Craig Pearson, executive vice president of Maharishi University of Management, at Friday’s grand opening of the Sustainable Living Center.
Pearson was quoting how The Associated Press described the newest building on campus while it was still under construction in an article that was published in national media, including Forbes, Business Week and MSNBC.
“This sets new standards,” said Pearson.
David Fisher, chairman of the Sustainable Living program, founded at M.U.M. in 2003, said plans for the building began in 2004.
“Its design evolved over time,” said Fisher. “The intention has been to be off the grid in all ways.
“Scores of environmental buildings are being built across the country, some much larger than this, but this is the only building to do it all in one building.”
Fisher said constructing the Sustainable Living Center was a teaching tool for builders, students and anyone who had a part in finishing the building.
“It’s a work in progress, a living building,” said Fisher.
Sustainability comes from materials used, the design and placement of windows for natural day lighting, rain catchment for water (not yet operational), solar panels and a wind turbine.
A classroom used for Friday’s grand opening news conference was furnished with about 21 wooden tables, constructed on campus.
“These tables are made from 19 different plant families all harvested within 100 miles of here,” said Fisher. “The differences in colors are natural, indicating the different woods.”
Faculty member Lonnie Gamble said designers and builders had to think outside the box on this building.
“This building and university are a great inspiration for the world,” he said.
Designer John Lippman has designed all the new buildings on campus since 2000. He listed the Sustainability Center as following architectural guidelines of Vastu, meeting gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification with plans to reach platinum, meeting the Living Building Challenge and meeting Building Biology standards.
“Vastu guidelines means the building is in harmony with nature,” said Lippman. “We have the silent core at the center of the building. High windows allow daylight to extend from two directions into the building’s rooms.
“We used natural materials in here, earth from the campus and whole tree trunks from Wisconsin.”
Sustainable Living student Makayla McDonald said the building reflects the people in the program.
“Community is strength,” she said. “This building has already drawn many people to come here. But it’s not just a building of classrooms. This is the merging of our dreams for the future. I want to express profound gratitude for this university and program. At age 20, it’s very important to have dreams and get to see them become reality.”
Fairfield Mayor and M.U.M. board of trustees member Ed Malloy, said the university was showing the kind of leadership in education that inspires everyone to consider new horizons with the grand opening of the Sustainable Living Center.
“In 2008, Fairfield began a process of creating a strategic plan for a sustainable community,” he said. “In 2009, we published the Fairfield Go Green plan and received national recognition.
“The theme that runs through the plan is to demonstrate for ourselves and others what a city can look like as it adopts new strategies and community designs. This building sets the highest standard.”
Malloy congratulated the university and everyone involved. He noted it was worthy to be called a learning center.
“Students participated in making the very materials that the walls are made of and participated as the mechanical systems that power the building were assembled,” said Malloy. “They will always know as they study in here that they are sheltered and powered by the very elements of nature that surround them — the earth, trees, wind and sun.
“Last year we celebrated gold LEED certification for Hy-Vee, and Kum & Go completed a renovation that earns them a silver LEED certification.”
The Sustainability Center building produces its own kilowatt energies and can send extra back to the grid to use to power other buildings on campus. With more fundraising, the building will complete the rainwater catchment system and waste treatment process, to move from gold to platinum certification.
Photo by: DIANE VANCE/Ledger photo. Posted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger.
Also see: BEYOND GREEN: Building Produces Extra Energy | Maharishi University of Management to open new Sustainable Living Center, a net-zero energy bldg | Maharishi University dedicates efficient building | The Fairfield Ledger: Fairfield draws ‘who-da thunk it’ quote from Lode