Posts Tagged ‘Maharishi Vedic Architecture’

The Age features Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi School in national education article

October 22, 2012

Australia’s The Age features Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi School in a national education article written by Denise Ryan: School puts stress on staying calm: Meditation techniques embraced by the Beatles are helping students in Reservoir. October 22, 2012. (I added links.)

Students practise Transcendental Meditation at the Maharishi School in Reservoir. Photo: Eddie Jim

MOST children wouldn’t describe their primary school as “peaceful” or all their teachers and classmates as “kind”. But that’s how Bridgette Nicolosi views her new school.

The year 4 student says she used to feel “confused” in her former mathematics class, but since she has learnt Transcendental Meditation at the Maharishi School in Reservoir, she is no longer as “scared” of maths as she was. She also feels more accepted and included.

Isabelle Coates, the year 6 captain, is not surprised. She has compared how “calm and happy” she feels with the state of mind of friends at other schools. “I seem to be more relaxed,” she says. “I think if I didn’t meditate I would be more stressed.”

Fellow year 6 student Supreeya Bullock says meditation has helped her with schoolwork and in playing sport. Perrin Broszczyk says it has helped him relax and has improved his tennis.

These students are making big claims but their positive experiences from two 10-minute Transcendental Meditation sessions each day is backed by a wealth of international research.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Photo: Trevor Dallen

Transcendental Meditation was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and was first taught in India in the 1950s. Pop group the Beatles extolled its virtues, writing almost 50 songs while studying with Maharishi at his ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas in the late 1960s. Hollywood stars Mia Farrow and Shirley MacLaine also took it up. It is practised by millions world-wide, despite Maharishi’s death in 2008.

Some might regard the practice as New Age or bohemian but it has become mainstream, particularly in the US where it is used in some hospitals to help chronically or terminally ill patients manage their stress.

Principal Frances Clarke
Photo: Eddie Jim

Maharishi School founder and principal Frances Clarke says meditating in silence has profound results. Since the 1970s hundreds of research studies on Transcendental Meditation have been undertaken at more than 200 universities and research institutes across many countries.

These studies report benefits such as increased creativity, intelligence and learning ability, higher levels of brain function, improved memory and school behaviour. Studies have reported an increased sense of calm, decreased anxiety and reduced conflict.

When Ms Clarke founded this independent school with like-minded families in Bundoora in 1997, it had 20 students. The school gained a following since moving to Reservoir, drawing families from local suburbs such as Northcote. It now has 80 students, rising to 100 next year.

The school teaches the standard curriculum but adds a subject called Science of Creative Intelligence, and also the meditation sessions. In the extra class, students might do maths as part of learning such principles as that every action has a reaction.

An ancient system of architecture and design known as Maharishi Vedic principles have been included in two new buildings. For example, they are entered from the east, capturing early morning sun. The principles are different but are along the lines of Feng Shui, in that they seek to maximise health and success.

Ms Clarke first learnt to meditate at age 22. She found it helpful to deal with stress when she became a secondary school teacher. When she heard that the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Iowa was getting outstanding results, she decided to visit.

The Iowa school is open entry yet it continues to record some of the top academic results in the state and its students regularly win awards for sports, science, art and problem-solving competitions. TV star Oprah Winfrey has highlighted the school’s results on her program.

Some US schools that deal specifically with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have adopted Transcendental Meditation techniques after also witnessing its success at a Detroit Middle School.

A Maharishi School in Lancashire, England, has performed in the top 2.5 per cent of schools for 25 years, despite also being open entry. As a result, the education department has fully funded it. Other Maharishi Schools are being established there too.

Ms Clarke’s husband Larry, who has also taught Transcendental Meditation for many years, says it has a following in the US, Europe, South America and Thailand but has been slower to take off in Australia, despite the established benefits.

“It’s a bit of a sleepy hollow here, yet 6 million people have been trained world-wide.”

Transcendental Meditation differs from some other forms of meditation in that it allows the mind to effortlessly “transcend thought”.

“It does not require contemplation or concentration,” says Dr Clarke. He regards concentrating on breathing or an object, such as a candle flame, as an arduous practice where the mind is still active.

“In TM the mind becomes quieter and quieter until it is doing absolutely nothing. TM uses the natural tendency for the mind to move towards something more interesting or charming. It moves into subtler and subtler states until thought dissolves into silent wakefulness, or pure consciousness.”

Ms Clark says meditation helps children find their passion. “Around years 3 or 4 they discover what they love, and go for it.”

She says this is because children can concentrate. “Some schools spend all their time doing English and mathematics but our students focus so well they have time for everything else.”

The small scale also helps. “Students don’t get lost. Everyone has the opportunity to have a go at everything, whether it be a science or drama competition or to be in the school concert.”

Parents pay $1300 each term to send their children to this alternative school. At least one parent must practise or learn Transcendental Meditation also. The school offers a four-day course for parents. On weekends children meditate with their parents.

Students up to the age of 10 meditate with eyes open, walking about. Older children are seated in comfortable spots in the classroom. Ten-minute sessions are held about 9.30am and 3pm each day, which means students head home in a calm state. “But they don’t want to go home,” Ms Clark says. “It’s a small community and parents and students love to hang around after school.”

Teacher Samantha Russell loves the strong relationship between staff and parents. “I feel really sorry for my friends in other schools who don’t see the parents and don’t have the same objectives as them.”

She says parents talk to her about their experiences of meditating and it makes for a closer bond.

Students sometimes get a shock when they move from this environment to high school.

“They often express surprise that other students don’t want to learn and spend a lot of time mucking around,” says Ms Clarke.

She sees the government’s recent pressure on teachers to improve what they do as misplaced. “Transcendental Meditation develops the consciousness of the student so they are much more capable of learning. You can’t teach a class if children aren’t awake, alert or aware.”

Article URLs: and updated

Earlier this year the Maharishi School was featured on Australian TV: Cool School: Melbourne school teaches meditation to students.

URLs for Maharishi School: and TM in Australia:

Here is an image of the layout in Monday’s Age in Melbourne, Australia. Will replace it with a better resolution when available. (more…)

The Iowan: Beyond LEED: Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center

March 5, 2012

[potluck] Beyond LEED

Fairfield, Iowa – March 1, 2012

MUM Sustainable Living Center

Maharishi University of Management's Sustainable Living Center

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk

More and more new or renovated structures in Iowa trumpet their commitment to reducing demands on air, water, and energy resources — some even achieving platinum status in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification (currently the highest level recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council). The folks at the Sustainable Living Center (SLC) in Fairfield are aiming higher.

Rising to the Living Building Challenge (an international performance-based certification program) and incorporating both Building Biology principles and Maharishi Vedic architecture guidelines, the SLC design introduces such features as the use of naturally hygroscopic materials to self-regulate humidity, the use of natural building materials, and complete water and energy self-sufficiency — the ability to go off the grid.

According to David Fisher, Director of the Sustainable Living Program at Maharishi University of Management (MUM), this higher standard is “doable with current technology.” For example, the combination of insulation, solar and wind powers, and geothermal heat will allow the SLC to generate excess electricity, which will be contributed back to the campus power grid. Similarly, by collecting rainwater for drinking and running black/gray water through a peat moss filtering system for irrigation, the building will have net zero water usage.

In addition to being resource-neutral (and, possibly, resource-positive), the SLC has other unique features, including 16 whole aspen tree trunks that provide major structural support for the building and 26,000 earthen blocks manufactured by MUM students out of local clays. To avoid any toxic chemicals, plaster has been made from sand, cow manure, and soil; paints are milk-based with color pigments derived from clay, minerals, and spices.

When the building opens this spring as classroom and office space for the Bachelor of Science program in Sustainable Living, the SLC will still be a work in progress, says Fisher. “But we’re going to open so our students can share in the experience of showing the construction industry how it can be done.” — M.G.

For information on the Sustainable Living Center, contact David Fisher at and visit Learn more about Building Biology and Vedic architecture online at (choose English language) and

Rendering courtesy Sustainable Living Center

Related article: Iowa Outdoors: Fairfield’s Abundance EcoVillage: Harmonious Living With Nature — Off The Grid.

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BUILDINGS Magazine: A Zero Utility Bill Building

October 8, 2011

September 2011

You can read this article below, but there are two other ways to better see what it looks like online, in a digital version of the magazine: click here to browse the enhanced, rich media version from cover to cover: article is on pages 24-26, includes pop-out video, or click here to just see the article.

A Zero Utility Bill Building

One zero utility bill university is boldly pursuing off-grid for electricity, water, and sewer

By Jennie Morton

You wouldn’t expect to find a building of the future nestled in the hills of Iowa, but the Sustainable Living Center (SLC) is all about breaking the mold.

Commissioned by the Maharishi University of Management, the facility is a forward-looking project that draws from an “East Meets West” approach to sustainability. It is the first to integrate four separate building challenges: LEED Platinum, the Living Building Challenge, Building Biology, and Maharishi Vedic Architecture.

The result of combining ancient philosophies with the latest green technologies? A 6,900-square-foot building that’s off-grid for electricity, water, and sewer.

An Ambitious Plan
Since its inception, the Sustainable Living Center has evolved from an environmentally conscious project to one that minimizes its impact right down to the paint on the walls. Unlike other new buildings on campus, the design requirements were voiced by the faculty, students, and community members. While their first visions of the center were less far-reaching, the future occupants insisted on a building that teaches.

“Why off-grid? It’s never been done for a campus building as far as we know, and we wanted to demonstrate that it can be done,” explains David Fisher, director of the SLC and a university professor. “This is where the industry needs to go next, but they won’t do it unless they see it first. This will help to expand their vision of what is possible.”

One also doesn’t think of the Midwest as a hotbed for sustainable architecture, but it’s for this very reason that Maharishi University wasn’t thwarted. “Contrary to popular opinion, the Midwest is ideal for an off-grid building. It’s hard to imagine a place with more extremes with temperature, weather, and humidity. But if you can do it here, then you can do it anywhere,” Fisher says.

Overcoming Challenges
An intricately planned building of this magnitude requires an element of patience to temper unexpected complications. The first challenge was funding. Because the university was focused on another large project at the time, the SLC needed to secure funds from the onset. Once some excitement had been generated, the recession hit and stalled progress. Consequently, the center is being built in stages.

This economic reality may mean the building will go online without all the features required to be fully off-grid. However, the university remains optimistic. “Even short of the full goal, the building will compare favorably with, and even go further, than most green buildings,” says Fisher.

Conflicting opinions on green strategies were also a factor that had to be addressed to find consensus in the design. “People often have very sharp differences for the best way to go green,” Fisher says.

For instance, how does one determine whether in-floor radiant heating or a forced air system is the most suitable option when both reduce energy consumption? Fisher says many conversations like these were necessary to achieve the most optimal version of the building.

While the four challenges provided many options for sustainability, some produced a conflict of interest. For example, LEED honors recycled content, while Vedic Architecture supports the use of virgin materials only. The Living Building Challenge requires the protection or restoration of natural habits on the site, but only LEED specifies light pollution reduction.

“However, one reason for doing all four certifications is to try to be as inclusive as possible of different people’s ideas of what should be in a green building,” Fisher explains.

Another stumbling block came in the form of climate change, which impacted the center’s renewable energy output. “We discovered that the number of cloudy, wintery days with low temperatures and wind has increased more in the past 5 years than it has the last 20 years,” says Fisher. “We also found out that rainfall has gone up by 4 to 5 inches a year. We had to do some redesigning when we learned this.”

Creativity Yields Results
If you’ve assumed this progressive building is using cutting-edge or proprietary systems to get to its goal, you’d be mistaken. The university prides itself on using “state-of-the-shelf” technologies to prove that its goal can be achieved in the here and now with well-proven equipment and supplies, says Fisher.

This led to some out-of-the-box strategies to find solutions to common problems:

• “One strategy was instead of trying to make a building have a comfortable temperature at any humidity, we lowered the humidity. We know high humidity, whether cold or warm, makes people uncomfortable,” explains Fisher. “So we keep the humidity controlled with desiccant cooling, which actually provides a wider temperature range as a buffer.”

• Students drove innovation by insisting the amount of concrete in the building be reduced, so an alternative to cinder blocks had to be found. A nearby construction project excavated a ridge and the students saw the displaced soil as a resource. They ran a compressed earth block machine to compact the dirt into blocks. These became the thermal mass to help insulate the building and were also used for interior walls in classrooms and hallways.

• To negate any VOCs, even the paint on the walls has a biological origin. Earth plasters are mixed with sand and cow manure, paints have a powder milk base, and most pigments are derived from clays, minerals, or spices. “People today have a heightened awareness of what kinds of building materials are toxic or produce off-gassing,” says David Todt, vice president of expansion. “It’s important to demonstrate the kinds of techniques that will result in a more healthy building for people to work in.”

• To achieve zero-water status, extensive rainwater harvesting will be used and filtered with UV light for drinking water and toilets. All black and grey water will be processed in a septic tank and then by a peat moss system for irrigation needs.

Justifying the Cost
Though construction is still underway and anticipated to be completed within the next year, the final costs per square foot are projected to be $450. Fischer is quick to point out that while sizeable, the costs aren’t much higher than a typical LEED project.

Some have criticized the project as being twice as expensive as LEED, but those numbers are based on a certified project only, he says. Average costs for LEED Platinum projects are typically around $350 a square foot. The extra $100 for the SLC is balanced by the additional three certifications and the elimination of grid ties.

Given the high costs, Todt recognizes that the university’s commitment to sustainability won’t be easy for everyone to duplicate. “We know it’s not commercially feasible for everyone to do an off-grid building like we have,” Todt admits. “But this is a demonstration project – it makes a statement that this is the way we need to go in the future. If that means someone is doing a normal building and decides to go the extra mile with efficiency in one system, that’s what we want to help motivate.”

Fisher also stresses the benefits of grid independence. Calling the SLC a zero utility bill building, he hopes the building’s example will prompt others to think about a future that makes an off-grid facility a savvy move.

“We encourage others to keep in mind the effects of peak oil, climate change, and energy descent as you design your green building,” recommends Fisher. “You can have it all, and you can have it now. It’s just a matter of deciding if it’s worth it to you.”

Jennie Morton ( is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.

Solar Energy to Power Completion of MUM’s Sustainable Living Center

July 19, 2010

Maharishi University of Management

MUM to Launch Renewable Energy System

Solar panels provide power to complete construction of Sustainable Living Center


Photo credit: Robbie Gongwer

Fairfield, Ia, July 20, 2010 – On Thursday, July 22, at 2 pm, Fairfield’s ‘green’ mayor, Ed Malloy, will flip the switch on the solar electricity of the Utility Cottage to use only renewable energy to power all the equipment needed to complete construction of Maharishi University of Management’s (MUM) new Sustainable Living Center. (SLC)

The Sustainable Living Center 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, and will be the first of its kind on any campus anywhere in the world.

On Earth Day, Whole Tree Posts and Beams were put in place, walls were tilted up, and roof trusses were placed on top of them. The entire shell of the building is now complete and is expected to be ready for occupancy in late fall.

Four Building Philosophies

The Sustainable Living Center features four green building philosophies. It has been designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the highest standard for sustainable design and green building in the world. It will be one of the first three to achieve this. And it will be unique because it will be the first to combine that standard with the standards of LEED Platinum certification, Building Biology, and Maharishi Vedic Architecture.

Architects talk about 2030 as the year when all buildings will be built this way, sustainable and without a carbon footprint. But MUM is doing it now, with existing technologies and materials. “There’s no other building like this going up in the nation, or in the world for that matter, that we know of,” said nationally known green building expert Mike Nicklas, FAIA, founder and president of Innovative Design, the building’s Project Architects.

To date, Innovative Design has designed over 4750 buildings and more than 100 schools that use renewable energy solutions. Mike Nicklas is the Technical Architect for this project, and Jon Lipman, AIA of Fortune-Creating Buildings, is the Design Architect. Mr. Lipman was responsible for the initial concept, and for the design and Vedic architecture throughout the project.

A Building That Teaches

The Sustainable Living Center will serve students in the university’s Sustainable Living major. It will have classrooms, workshop, meeting room, greenhouse, kitchenette, research lab, recycling center, and offices, as well as east and west covered verandas and a porch on the north.

It has been designed as a building that teaches. In addition to embodying sustainability, it will allow students to monitor performance and energy efficiency and make adjustments.

“The Sustainable Living Center will be a living, evolving building,” said David Fisher, head of the MUM Sustainable Living Department, who helped plan the building. “The building itself is an educational tool, not just a passive one like most classroom buildings. 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.”

Off the Grid

The Sustainable Living Center will be completely off of the energy and utility grid. Every feature will exemplify healthy and sustainable green building — and will be geared to teaching those principles.

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 onsite using a constructed wetland. Natural day lighting will illuminate the entire interior. Geothermal technology will assist with heating and cooling.

An Embodiment of Sustainability That’s Feasible and Practical

This achievement is remarkable because none of the systems in the building are new or experimental, according to developer and construction manager Dal Loiselle. “The Sustainable Living Center is being constructed using ‘state-of-the-shelf technologies,’” he said. “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.”

A Community Oriented Toward Sustainability

Sustainability has become a major focus at Maharishi University of Management, which has long used techniques for living in harmony with natural law, including the Transcendental Meditation technique and other Vedic technologies including Vedic Architecture. The University has filed a climate action plan to be 100% carbon neutral by 2020 as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Fairfield, too, has taken a strong direction toward sustainability, hiring a sustainability coordinator and moving ahead with its Go Green Strategic Plan to become a sustainable city. In 2009, named Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy as one of the nation’s 15 greenest mayors — alongside the mayors of New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Salt Lake City.

“Our city will benefit enormously by having this building on the campus of MUM as a demonstration of a new standard of design and will reinforce our commitment in Fairfield to changing the culture towards a more sustainable future,” Mayor Malloy said.

Industry-Educational Partnerships Industry leaders in green technologies provide sponsorships

The Sustainable Living Center features four green building philosophies, is entirely off grid and has amassed an impressive list of leading corporate sponsors. These industry-educational partnerships showcase a new level of leadership, cooperation and sustainable capitalism unique to green building and sustainable development within the state, nation and world at large.

The Sustainable Living Center has benefited by in-kind donations from these nationally recognized leaders in green building materials: Serious Materials (high performance windows); Pittsburgh Corning (FoamGlas insulation); Gerdau AmeriSteel (rebar); United States Gypsum Corporation (Aqua Tough-paperless drywall); Green Building Supply; SpiderLath Inc (lath mesh to support exterior stucco); and GlobalWatt (PV panels).

GlobalWatt is excited about participating in this special project and is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor. MUM SLC will be one of the very first customers to receive PV panels off the line at their new Saginaw, Michigan manufacturing plant, a former automotive facility. “We are pleased to partner with MUM on this historic educational green building,” says GlobalWatt Director of Sales, Dave Slivinski.

Wege Foundation Grant

There seems to be a Michigan connection here. With GlobalWatt in Michigan, the Kresge Foundation is headquartered in metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy, Michigan. They provided MUM with a Planning Grant, and possibly an upcoming Challenge Grant.

Another Michigan foundation, the Wege Foundation, provided a $100,000 grant to fund the Maharishi University of Management Sustainable Living Center to help it achieve the Living Building Challenge. Peter M. Wege, who built Steelcase, Inc. into the largest office-furniture manufacturer, is an environmentalist who founded the Wege Foundation to promote environmental activities primarily in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Steelcase, Inc. is headquartered. The board of the Wege Foundation made an exception and funded the MUM SLC in Fairfield, Iowa because it is a nationally significant sustainable building. This is the largest Foundation grant the Maharishi University of Management Sustainable Living Center has received to date. In appreciation for this gift the University will name the largest classroom in the Sustainable Living Center, the Peter M. Wege Classroom and Event Center.

The Building will also be a showcase for the public, and will feature meeting rooms, a real-time energy and renewable systems monitor, and displays of materials and building systems featured in the building to showcase partnerships with leading technologies and materials manufacturers. For more information please contact: Marco Sunseri @ 641-472-7000 x2449.

Available for media interviews: Sustainable Living department head David Fisher, construction manager Dal Loiselle, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, and design architect Jon Lipman, AIA. Contact Ken Chawkin, Director of Media Relations.

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Also available here: and

See KTVO News Report: Solar power at Maharishi University With a flip of the switch, solar power is taking over one construction site in the Heartland.

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