Maharishi University of Management’s Schwartz-Guich Sustainable Living Center hosts four classes this block. Open for just one week, the building is already using all the classroom and laboratory space to accommodate the Sustainable Living department’s full course schedule. The building is named after Maharishi University of Management Trustee Eric Schwartz and his wife Mary Sue, and Maharishi University of Management alumnus (MUM) Dr. Steve Guich.
One of the few net-zero buildings in the country, MUM’s Sustainable Living Center will produce as much, if not more, energy than it consumes for electricity, heating, and cooling. Additionally, a rainwater catchment system and on-site natural waste-water treatment will take the building off-the-grid with respect to water and waste treatment.
“The utility cottage… has photovoltaic panels on it and it also has all the inverters that convert DC electrical energy to AC energy that we use in the building,” said Tim Messenger, construction manager. ”It’s our own little power center, we’re our own little utility company here.”
“This building is kind of a signal for hope for people who maybe don’t think this is possible,” said Lonnie Gamble, Sustainable Living professor. “They don’t think that it’s possible, they can point here and see that it is. We needed a place that reflected the principles that we teach, we teach in a building that – if we teach one thing in the classroom, but the building tells a different story, then which gives the stronger lesson?”
More about the construction:
The developers of the building ambitiously aimed for a first in green building, integrating four certification criteria into the design of one structure:
The construction of the Center represents a great community effort. Students built the earth blocks that insulate the walls, and Fairfield-based MUM alumni-staffed Ideal Energy installed the photovoltaic array and wind turbine.
Students made the 25,000 earth blocks that make up the interior of the building. The earth came from the parking lot where the Sustainable Living Center was being built and compressed into blocks with a special machine.
Trunks from the nearby state of Wisconsin support the building’s roof. Architect Jon Lipman says round logs are more structurally sound than rectangular beams, so crews didn’t have to use as much of the resource found in nature. He says, “Which is a way of expressing in a very palpable way to the students that sustainable living, that discipline which teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, is really something that can be a part of the fabric of construction.”
The construction of this building represents a significant step in MUM’s long term plans for sustainability, and it also complements the Go Green strategic plan adopted by the City of Fairfield in 2008.
“Fairfield is proud to have this building on the campus of Maharishi University of Management, as it serves as a symbol of our creativity and entrepreneurship.” said Mayor Ed Malloy, MUM Trustee. “It validates the work we did to create a sustainable community, and it legitimizes our record as a community with green priorities.”
Although the building is open for business, it’s not done yet. Final touches include plans for an edible landscape and eco-interior design components.
|Anna Bruen is a MUM alumna 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.|