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Keen worldwide interest in MUM Sustainable Living Center's off-grid design
by Global Good News staff writer
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12 March 2013
What is the value of having a commercial building be completely off-grid?
Dr David Fisher continued to address this question in a recent talk. (See Part I of this article.)
As founder and director of Maharishi University of Management's Sustainable Living department, Dr Fisher has been an outspoken advocate for the design and construction of the new Sustainable Living Center on the MUM campus in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, which opened in April 2012.
His goal for the building is self-sufficiency, that it not rely on the 'grid' for electricity, water, or waste disposal. Since its opening the building has been making steady progress in this direction.
There are many reasons, he said, why the Sustainable Living department made this choice.
The first is the implications of that accomplishment for other commercial buildings worldwide.
'There are many places in the world where the grid fails every day—all the types of services on the grid fail. Those places are very excited about this building, because it's a commercial building. It's exciting that it might be possible to have a building that takes care of itself—so it doesn't have to depend on the grid.'
There are even grid failures here in the United States, Dr Fisher added, citing the recent disasters on the East Coast.
'So helping people to think about the possibility of being self-sufficient—of having buildings that are self-sufficient—is a very good thing.'
He explained that even though one of the main sustainability guidelines, the Living Building Challenge, prefers on-grid buildings, the MUM Sustainable Living department takes a different stance.
As he noted earlier in his talk, the Living Building Challenge is opposed to off-grid buildings using vegetable oil burners during times when renewable energy sources aren't enough.
'But our answer to that is: At times of peak demand—both in the summer when it is the hottest, and in the winter when it gets the coldest—that's when all the buildings across the country are drawing the most on the grid system.'
And that grid system is largely coal- and fossil fuel-based. Thus, Dr Fisher explained, it would be better to not contribute to the burning of yet more fossil fuels.
He concluded, 'What this building is attempting to do is to demonstrate that it is possible to have a building that is self-sufficient.'
See previous articles in this series:
∙ Sustainable Living Center moves closer to full self-sufficiency
∙ Sustainable Living Center 'the most ambitious environmental building'
∙ New master's degrees in Sustainable Living to launch next year at MUM
∙ Popular Sustainable Living department to offer MA and MS degrees: Maharishi University of Management
∙ Sustainable Living Center truly local, community built
∙ Master's in Sustainable Living to provide community assistance, valuable skill set
∙ Sustainable Living Center self-sufficient for water, greenhouse soon finished
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