Posts Tagged ‘wind energy’

MUM’s Innovative Sustainable Living Center @MaharishiU Featured in Solar Tribune

November 13, 2014

Small College Makes Solar a Big Priority

Nestled among the cornfields of Southeastern Iowa, Maharishi University of Management is not your typical small college. More than 40 years after its founding, this unique campus has become a showcase of sustainability and solar technology.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, best known as man who taught meditation to The Beatles, bought the defunct Parsons College campus in Fairfield, Iowa in 1971 and set up an accredited university to teach his philosophy of world peace and enlightenment through meditation. Along with computer science, accounting and BA, MA and PhD programs, the curriculum stresses healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment.

Biology Professor David Fisher launched the nation’s first four-year BA program in Sustainable Living at MUM in 2003. The Sustainable Living Department offers courses in solar, wind and other alternative energy systems, water management, permaculture, alternative building techniques, and performance design for the built environment, and their building serves as a hands-on showcase for the technologies they teach. On an annual basis, the building is not only a “net zero” building, but actually produces as much as 40% more energy than it consumes. The excess energy offsets electricity used elsewhere on campus.

South wall of MUM Sustainable Living Center

Opened in 2012, the Schwartz-Guich Sustainable Living Center at MUM is a showpiece of green building technology. The 6,900 square foot building features sustainable infrastructure including daylighting, a greenhouse and edible landscaping, gardens, rain catchment, earth block and “whole tree” construction and both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV), as well as a wind turbine. The architectural style, known as “Vedic” architecture, marries eastern and western styles and reflects the philosophy of the university, while exceeding LEED platinum standards.

Daniel Chiras PhD is currently a visiting professor at the Sustainable Living Center. Dan serves as the Director of the Evergreen Institute and is author of over 30 books on solar and sustainability topics, including The Natural House, The Solar House, The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy and many more. Chiras said of the MUM building: “The Sustainable Living Center is one of the greenest—if not the greenest—classroom buildings on a college campus in the world! It’s an extraordinary model of ecological sustainability and an inspiration to those seeking to build a sustainable human future. The building is a pleasure to teach in and a great learning tool for students.”

Solar Features At The SLC:

The Sustainable Living Center sports 12.5 kW of PV panels to provide electricity. The PV panels are grid-tied by two 2.5 kW and one 5 kW SMA Sunny Boy inverters. An Outback 3.6 kW battery based inverter also stores energy in an off-grid battery bank. The solar PV at the Center puts out an average of 16,250 kWh per year.

A drain-back solar water heating system with 750 square feet of evacuated tube solar thermal collectors capture solar energy that is then stored in a 5,000 gallon tank, where it is then pumped through the in-floor heating system. The collectors provide about 30% of the heating for the building. Additional heat comes from a ground source heat pump, which uses electricity from the solar and wind systems to provide 75,000 BTUs per hour.

In addition to the solar arrays, The Sustainable Living Center features a Bergey XL 10 wind turbine on a 100 foot latticed tower. The estimated annual output is 17,000 kWh, with power production peaking in the winter and spring. This compliments the solar PV, which produces most of its power during the summer months, when wind speeds are typically much lower.

The SLC has an annual energy use of about 30,000 kWh, including lighting, heating and cooling, fresh air circulation office equipment and classrooms, which is already amazingly low for a building of its size.

Not only at the Sustainable Living Center, but across the entire MUM campus, sustainability initiatives are in full effect. In fact, the school achieved a perfect score for sustainable food sourcing and is the first college in the United States to offer an organic, 100% vegetarian menu. The college encourages bicycling and energy efficiency and is currently in the planning stages of a large-scale solar array to offset more of their electrical use with solar energy.

Read more about the MUM Sustainable Living Center at:

Article reprinted with permission from the author. Solar Tribune is a solar news, education, and advocacy website. Article is published under: .

See more news about MUM’s SLC in this Des Moines Register article: Fairfield defines community action. There was a lot of news coverage on the official opening of MUM’s SLC, April 20, 2012. Here are two TV News reports, with links to other reports: KTVO News: Groundbreaking Sustainable Living Center a source of pride in Fairfield and WHO News: BEYOND GREEN: Building Produces Extra Energy. Also see The Fairfield Ledger: M.U.M.’s newest building sets new green standards.

Maharishi University Sustainable Living Students Are Going Green In The Heartland—KTVO Report

November 23, 2011

Going green in the Heartland

Sustainable living students at Maharishi University in Fairfield are creating instruments that can be utilized for a “green”, environment-friendly lifestyle.

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — The future of sustainable energy may be right here in the Heartland.

At Maharishi University in Fairfield, about 90 students are enrolled as sustainable living majors. They create and use different types of equipment that contribute to a “green”, environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Lonnie Gamble is a professor in the program, which he sees as cutting edge.

“The program is really designed to give students the skills to help design, build and maintain sustainable communities,” Gamble said. “As such, it involves re-thinking every aspect of human endeavor in terms of sustainability. And a big part of that is energy, because energy is involved in everything that we do.”

The students work in groups to create and utilize their projects. Jimmy Leritz and his group took leftover vegetable oil from local restaurants and converted it to deisel fuel, that they use to fuel their school bus and the students’ own vehicles.

“This is so inspiring,” Leritz said. “To run an engine off of veggie oil, it really shows what we can do with the future of green energy.”

Robert Belding-Miller and his group built a wind tower as a source of energy.

“We’re trying to make this building entirely sustainable, so that’s a really good wind generator that will generate enough energy to power several classrooms here,” Belding-Miller said.

Yet another group project was the construction of an “information wall”, consisting of two differently colored light bulbs to alert the building’s visitors to the current status of energy supply.

“We have a yellow light for our solar system,” student Josh Wilson said. “As long as that light is on, we can use energy as much as we need to, to turn on our lights and to power our presentations. We’re excited that we have this system, because we’re able to show that even in an existing, old building, that there are things you can do to lower your energy usage.”

The focus on renewable energy is only just beginning, but the projects created by these students are the first steps toward a sustainable lifestyle.

“The work that these students are doing here at the sustainable living program is part of an effort that I think every human on the planet is going to be involved with,” Gamble said. “These guys are really on the leading edge of it. It’s very rewarding for me to work with young people in this way.”

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