In the 2003/2004 school year, the Sustainable Living degree program at Maharishi University of Management emerged from the Biology department. In the first year, there were 6 students; in the second year (the year I started my studies) there were 15 of us. By the time I graduated in 2008, there were 60 students! Now, there are over 100.
To keep up with this rate of growth, the Sustainable Living department began renovating the building it was in. I remember the beginnings of the renovation quite fondly as several of my classes took the hands-on opportunity to re-design the spaces and rip up carpet. It soon became apparent to the Chair of the department, David Fisher, that we would need even more space. So, a new building was designed.
It’s awesome to see the evolution of this project. I was part of a team of students that presented the initial plans for the Sustainable Living Center at an educational conference in Minnesota. As plans often do, the initial design changed (many times, I’m sure); the design went from a very practical expansion of campus facilities to a state of the art learning center.
Last Summer, I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the final design, under construction. I went up on the roof where the solar electric and solar hot water panels are, also, the location of rain water funnels and future roof top parties. Yes, roof top parties! The rumor is that in the evenings the department might host dinner parties on the roof top. In the day time, the white roof is too blinding for socialization (watch the video above to see what I’m talking about).
“We wanted to create a building that walked our talk, that demonstrated sustainability and self-sufficiency as a teaching model for our students,” David Fisher says. “And for the public too—to show that we can live sustainably.”
Even though the Sustainable Living department does an excellent job of creating hands-on learning opportunities, there is still a lot of talk that goes on in an educational environment. In order to live up to it all the design team created a building that goes beyond the highest green building standards, and in fact unites green building guidelines from:
- U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program
- Cascadia Living Building Challenge
- Bau (or building) Biology
- Maharishi Vedic Architecture
The resulting building is entirely off the grid in terms of electricity, heating, cooling, water, and waste disposal. Take a moment to imagine stepping into a university building like this:
- Daylight streaming through every room
- Breathable earthen block walls
- Rain water running from every faucet
- Systems of plants, algae, and bacteria purifying waste instead of dumping it into sewers
- In harmony with nature and bringing health to its occupants
|Anna Bruen is a MUM alumnus who graduated with a degree in Sustainable Living. Anna is the resident blogger here at MUM. To learn more about Anna take a look at her introduction post.|