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Grand Opening, Friday 20 April: Maharishi University of Management's new Sustainable Living Center

Maharishi University of Management    Translate This Article
19 April 2012

(Photo by Tim Messenger)

Maharishi University of Management's highly-anticipated new Sustainable Living Center opens Friday, April 20 with a celebration and press conference scheduled for 11 am US CT. Friday afternoon the Center hosts an open house and tours of the building; more tours are scheduled for Saturday.

Sustainable Living Center – Grand Opening
Schedule of Events:

April 20, Friday morning: 11:00 a.m. US CT

Grand opening, with press conference.

April 20, Friday afternoon: 1:00–4:00 p.m.

Open house and tours of the Sustainable Living Center

April 21, Saturday afternoon: 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Tours of the Sustainable Living Center

The Center's Grand Opening coincides with Earth Day weekend, being celebrated at MUM and its home city of Fairfield, Iowa with the annual EcoFairfield weekend, organized by MUM students. After the building has been formally inaugurated, it will host some EcoFairfield events.

MUM's Sustainable Living Center To Be ''Net-Zero Energy Building''

The Sustainable Living Center is expected to produce more energy than it will consume, thanks to a wind turbine, solar panels, geothermal tubing, extensive use of daylighting, earth block walls, verandas, and a range of other measures.

At its opening, the new Sustainable Living Center will have the distinction of being one of the few net-zero energy buildings in the country—it will produce as much if not more energy than it uses.

The building is designed to eventually be completely off the grid, including for water usage and waste treatment, as more funds are available. However, it will initially be connected to the grid, using electricity as needed during extreme weather conditions. At those times when the solar arrays and wind turbine produce more than the building uses, it will feed excess energy into the campus grid for use in other buildings.

Annually the building will produce more energy than it will consume.

The building's 58 solar panels are capable of producing 15 kilowatts, and the 100-foot wind turbine is capable of producing 10 kilowatts. In addition, energy savings result from the use of technologies such as a heat pump and geothermal tubing. Many passive methods of alternative energy also contribute, such as extensive use of daylighting, the use of earth block walls to moderate temperature extremes and insulate, and strategic placement of windows and verandas.

A view of Maharishi University of Management's new Sustainable Living Center taken from the 100-foot wind turbine tower by MUM alum and installer Troy Van Beek of Ideal Energy. Energy cottage is to the right, Golden Domes are in the distance.

As more funds are raised, more features will be added until the Sustainable Living Center is completely off the grid with respect to electricity, heating, cooling, water, and waste. A rain catchment system will provide water, and there will be on-site sewage treatment.

''Even in this phase of development, the building is one of the best of the current generation of green buildings,'' said Sustainable Living department faculty member Lonnie Gamble. Eventually the building will be carbon neutral, which entails being completely off the grid.

''Our carbon footprint is much smaller than most new buildings as we used earth block, earth plasters, and many other low-embodied energy and low-carbon materials in construction,'' Mr. Gamble said.

In addition to many University supporters, Kresge Foundation and Wege Foundation provided grants, and nationally recognized leaders in green building materials offered in-kind donations.

The building currently qualifies for gold LEED certification, said construction manager Tim Messenger. But the application is being held until the water and waste systems are in place, which will raise the Sustainable Living Center to the highest level of LEED certification, that of platinum.

EcoFairfield events will begin Friday afternoon with community service tree planting, and a keynote presentation by Seth Braun on Friday evening on shaping a collective vision for the future of Fairfield. See

To find out more about Fairfield and neighboring Maharishi Vedic City, visit

See related video and articles:
BEYOND GREEN: Building Produces Extra Energy
The Iowan: Beyond LEED: Maharishi University's Sustainable Living Center
The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively
BUILDINGS Magazine: A Zero Utility Bill Building
The Iowa Source: MUM Sustainable Living Center

© Copyright 2012 Maharishi University of Management

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