Net Zero Is Bliss At Maharishi University In Iowa

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is best known for having brought Transcendental Meditation to the West, but he also founded the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa (yes). Now, the university’s Schwartz-Guich Sustainable Living Center will give students an opportunity to experience sustainable living firsthand.

Incorporating principles of Bau Biology (a German system that focuses on creating a healthy indoor environment), as well as Maharishi Vedic Architecture (an Indian system of architecture focused on the precise orientation, proportions and placement of rooms), the MUM Sustainable Living Center was designed to surpass LEED Platinum qualification while complying with most of the criteria of the Cascadia Living Building Challenge. It will operate entirely off the grid.

MUM Sustainable Living Center

image via Maharishi University of Management

The MUM Sustainable Living Center’s classrooms, workshops and office buildings — built to serve MUM’s rapidly expanding Sustainable Living degree program — are now now fully operational, hosting four classes for the current academic block.

The building is one of the few in the country to qualify as net zero, and one of even fewer that can claim the banner of grid positive (i.e., it produces more energy than it consumes) via its solar power system. A rainwater catchment system and on-site natural waste-water treatment likewise take the building off (sewer) grid with respect to water and waste treatment.

Additional green features include natural daylighting in evey room; natural, breathable earth block walls (which were made by the program’s students), purified rainwater for both potable and non-potable water functions; and an on-site water purification and recycling system consisting of plants, algae, and bacteria.

The building is named after MUM trustee Eric Schwartz and his wife, Mary Sue, and MUM alumnus Dr. Steve Guich. More about the building is available online.


  • Reply May 27, 2012



  • Reply May 27, 2012

    Louis Hammond

    Cutting edge sustainability program at the cutting edge university for consciousness-based education.

  • Reply May 27, 2012

    Ken Chawkin

    Thanks for this post, Susan. The building is functional, and creates and saves multiple times more energy that it uses, due to the solar arrays, wind turbine, heat pump and earth-tubing, and naturally lit rooms. But the water and waste purification systems have yet to be installed. When they are in place then we will qualify for LEED Platinum. So we’re not there yet, not completely off the grid, yet. It’s a work in progress. But the building is amazing, even at the current stage. If you’re ever in the area, you must come and experience it for yourself. It’s unique. It’s special!

  • Reply May 30, 2012


    I so proud that this is right here in Fairfield!

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