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. The building installed a large scale solar panel system that provides more than enough power for the entire site. 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.

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