Green Practices


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Spirit Rock staff and teachers value and embrace green practices in all aspects of our day-to-day operations. In addition, our approved building plans incorporate a comprehensive package of Green Development Practices that will improve the conditions for the community and staff while responsibly protecting the environment.


Net Zero Energy Goal Spirit Rock participates in the Marin Clean Energy Deep Green option, powered from 100% renewable energy sources. It is our goal to provide as much photovoltaic power onsite as we use, and to convert propane-fueled equipment to electric power where feasible.

Passive Solar Power—Heating & Cooling
The Community Meditation Hall and other new buildings will have temperature-balancing systems that use passive solar energy to help heat and cool the buildings. These systems work with a series of ducts and energy efficient, quiet in-line fans built into the structure. Window orientation will respect solar access and windows will be operable to allow for
natural ventilation. Using Eco-design, natural systems will help reduce energy needs for the buildings.

Active Solar Power
Photoelectric panels already supplement electric power use at Spirit Rock. These facilities will be significantly upgraded. When installed, the power generated by the solar array will essentially eliminate 100% of our current PG&E electric bill. In this first phase, SR will install a total of 336 SunPower 345w modules that will generate 105.9 kW of DC electricity.  The solar system is configured to allow for easy expansion of another 75.2kW DC electricity. SunPower is a U.S. company and their ethical and green manufacturing processes have been vetted by independent industry experts. Using conservative industry calculations, the solar system will eliminate between 2,400 and 3,600 tons of CO2 over 25 years, which is equivalent to planting 40 to 60 acres of trees. The current estimate for installation is March/April 2014.

Energy Efficiency
From high-efficiency compact fluorescent light fixtures to motion sensors, from Energy Star appliances to flash water heaters, the buildings included in the Spirit Rock Master Building Plan will exceed Title 24 (The California Energy Code, or The Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings) by an estimated 25% or more.


Septic System Upgrades
Improved wastewater treatment facilities will improve water usage and water quality.

Gray Water
Lessening our impact on the land through gray water systems is an integral part of the improvements at Spirit Rock. Our first stage goal is to separate gray water from black water to lessen the load on our septic system and to create a showcase wetland treatment system. In later stages, we may re-use gray water in selected applications, if allowed. In the first phase of construction, we will install the long pipe back-bone of this system. New residential buildings will have dual plumbing systems to accommodate future gray water applications. In our next phase, we will install the gray water treatment facilities including the constructed wetland. In final phases, we will retrofit existing buildings and if allowed, find appropriate targets for gray water re-use.


Moving buildings and adjusting the Development Area Boundary will maintain soil stability, and improve creek habitats.


Green Site Planning

  • Infill development; re-use valuable land resources; make use of existing infrastructure.
  • Proposed new Residence Halls 5 and 6 are a good example of infill development.
  • Reduce coverage; build compact structures. Small footprints save trees, increase pervious land area, save natural habitats and improve drainage.
  • Orient buildings for solar, wind and other climate issues.
  • Conform buildings to the land; avoid mass grading.

Green Landscaping

  • Transplant trees rather than removing them; maintain the habitat value of the site as well as create an aesthetic, pleasing, and well-balanced atmosphere.
  • Design around specimen trees; incorporate existing habitat into plan.
  • Use recycled landscape materials.
  • Prune trees to maintain health; remove non-native and invasive vegetation to improve habitat.

Green Site Improvements

Create “Green Streets.” A green street has a 6” concrete curb set flush on either side of the roadway to contain the shoulder. These flush curbs allow for drainage into bio-swales. Along each side of the street is a Grasspave shoulder, a structural lawn that supports traffic loads and acts as a bio-swale. Storm water falling on the streets drains over the curbs and is cleaned in the bio-swale before entering the creek. Due to the durability of Grasspave, these areas will not get soggy as they filter drainage, and can even act as overflow parking areas.

Green Building – A Partial list

  • Use modular design to make maximum efficiency of construction materials
  • Incorporate passive solar heating and cooling through a temperature balancing system
  • High efficacy compact florescent lighting
  • EnergyStar appliances and high efficiency equipment
  • Photovoltaic systems for electric power
  • Use electric appliances and equipment wherever possible to take advantage of alternative energy supplied on site
  • Dual pane Low E vinyl/framed windows with Sunguard coating
  • Motion sensors and dimmers on electrical switches
  • On-demand, energy-efficient flash water heaters
  • Long life-cycle roofing and flooring materials
  • Use thermal mass to reduce heating and cooling loads