Maharishi University to Launch Renewable Energy System

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Solar panels to provide power to complete construction of new Sustainable Living Center

The Sustainable Living Center at Maharishi University will be the first of its kind to go up anywhere in the world.

The Sustainable Living Center will go off-the-grid for the rest of the construction phase at Maharishi University. Photo by Robbie Gongwer

The building itself is an educational tool, not just a passive one like most classroom buildings.

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 programming, design work, rendering, and also for Vedic architecture and design throughout the project.

A Building That Teaches

The Sustainable Living Center will serve students in the university’s popular Sustainable Living degree program. 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, MSN.com 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 a powerhouse 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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