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Reaching for New Heights

expanding living options at yasodhara ashram society

December 16, 2010 by Ashley

Yasodhara Heights was developed with the Ashram Society members in mind. It offers the opportunity to live away from the core of Ashram daily activity in a retreat-like environment, but also to be close to and engaged in the community and to live in homes that support our commitment to environmental responsibility.

The three cabins that currently make up Yasodhara Heights are well on their way to completion. Cabin One, also known as Red Cabin, has been occupied since July, and will be vacant come February 2011. Cabin Two will be ready by mid-December, but will be occupied until the spring. Cabin Three will be ready at the end of January.

The cabins can be rented by members of the Yasodhara Ashram community who are interested in participating in the Ashram’s daily activities. The application process is being developed, and the occupancy agreement is in its final draft form.

“Our goal was to minimize our footprint, and maximize our use of the land,” says Swami Sivananda. “For this reason Cabin Three was the most challenging building for us to come up with a plan.”

These cabins, an exercise in sustainability, were also built with the environment in mind. To do so, Swami Sivananda, in conjunction with builder and planner Allen Hughes, worked to come up with a sustainable plan.

“The whole idea was to try to make the buildings as green as we economically could. So we’ve incorporated very conventional kinds of things; they’re super insulated, super well-sealed buildings with triple-glazed windows: all things which are proven, standard technology that anyone building a new house would want to consider. And then we started expanding from that, but there was a limit to what we could do economically. So we’ve incorporated things like light tubes, which bring natural light into the building in places where it would naturally be dark. We pioneered this at the ashram when we renovated the Barn. We also incorporated heat-recovery ventilators.

“We tried to use locally sourced lumber as best we could; these big beams that you see all come from a community forest across the lake. I think it’s pretty good on the green side… there’s always more we could have done, and we’ve learned a lot as we went. It’s sort of a progression.”

“We found some things just don’t work; solar and geothermal heating — things we have at the ashram — isn’t at all an economical investment for these types of buildings. It’s always that trick of matching the technology to the application, and being physically responsible while still being as green as we can be.”

In “Bridging Heights,” Paris Marshall-Smith and Rebecca Dale, the prospective Cabin Three residents, discuss what it means for them as young women to live at Yasodhara Ashram’s newest community.

1 Comment »

  1. It is just wonderful to see how these cabins have come into form, the process, and the legacy–from Swami Radha’s initial idea of small cabins to Hardeep’s giving an idea which was eventually brought forward at an AGM. And then all the work with Sustainability and now the Land Project coming in. A long flow which we experience linearly, a bit at in time. Makes me wonder about the Divine view.

    Comment by Faith Hayflich — December 18, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

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