USGBC – Building Zen

Drew Hubbell spoke to USGBC about his experience designing a green living space for the Buddhists Nuns at Deer Park Monastery.

About Presentation:

Drew touched on working with a new and unique client to achieve the goals they had set to be close to nature without harming it. Taking on the ideas of Thich Nhat Hanh’s presented a challenge when sorting of a design that would encompass simplicity of their practices while being functional.

Goals that developed:

– Blend with nature & in harmony with the site

– Functionality – min detail/simplicity

– Sustainable materials – natural

– Energy efficiency with natural daylighting and ventilation (operable windows, clearstories, solatubes.

– Engagement – Bale raisings are similar to Amish barn raisings. (breezeway)

It took 3 years of negotiating modifications to their existing MUP to obtain approval but Drew states that, ” Having (8) nuns in red robes and shaved heads visit the County planning meeting helped us make our argument and have the County truly listen.” Listening was a big part of this project. Listening to the needs of others and nature propelled the Deer Park Monastery to its ultimate finish that now houses the Nuns comfortably and mindfully.

Nature was used inside and out and this monastery is considered to be a certified green home because of these features:


1. Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.

2. Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.

3. The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation. (floor plan)

4. Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.

5. Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.

6. Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature (bales)

7. A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.

8. High- efficiency glazing reduces heat gain

9. Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty

10. Rainwater catchment and grey water re-use supplies landscape irrigation.

By | 2017-10-27T12:25:14+00:00 March 25th, 2016|Categories: Presentations|0 Comments

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