Where can you find 110 people who live together and share two washing and drying machines? Where can you find the greatest concentration of employees in Wayne County who walk or bike to work? If you are thinking, the Himalayan Institute in Bethany, PA, give yourself a pat on the back. The Himalayan Institute is an international non-profit organization that specializes in yoga, meditation, spirituality and holistic health, headquartered just outside of Honesdale, PA. The Himalayan Institute community is also dedicated to environmental stewardship and is being recognized for its efforts through the pilot program, Wayne Businesses Conserve!

With a 400 acres campus, a large community building and 20+ off-buildings, the biggest challenge to Himalayan Institute residents is monitoring their energy use and becoming aware of their consumption.  They have found that once they collect some numbers, it becomes easier to determine how much they use and just how much they can save. For example, about a year ago the Himalayan Institute established a “No-Paper-Policy,” banning the use of throwaway dishware during conferences and events. Although the move meant a few more dishwashers at night, it also eliminates the need for an entire dumpster and saves the community about $3,000 dollars annually. Simple behavior changes like this seem challenging, but are well worth the effort both economically and environmentally. 

“Conservation is important to us because it’s the right thing to do.” says Brian Fulp, Director of Local Operations. ”We run partner programs in places where ‘sustainability’ isn’t an option…it’s a necessity. Nothing goes to waste- materials, energy or time. We encourage sustainable growth in these programs and practice what we preach here at home. Making these changes isn’t always easy, but once they are demonstrated to work, they become standard and well worth the effort.”

The Himalayan Institute runs a “free-store” they fondly refer to as ‘Mother Divine.’ Located in the laundry room, the free store operates on the premise of “give and take.” Residents can bring in or pick up gently used clothes, books, electronics or other items in working condition. On a weekly basis, the Himalayan Institute donates the contents of Mother Divine to the 7th Day Adventist Church of Honesdale and the Salvation Army. Free stores like Mother Divine encourages people to reuse items instead of buying them new, donate their old possessions instead of throwing them out, and help their neighbors. Looking at the whole energy picture—resources, manufacturing, transportation, packaging, etc.—one can see how a free-store like Mother Divine represents a synthesis of conservation ideals. 

Regarding transportation, although the campus is 6 miles from downtown Honesdale, the community has found a way to consolidate trips into town. Everyday, a van takes freshly made lunches from Main Campus to the Main Street Café. Through the “Errand Runner Program,” people can catch a ride into town with the van, or ask the driver to run simple errands for them. On campus, most people walk or ride their bikes to and from work. 

In addition to behavior changes for energy conservation, the Himalayan Institute Main Campus is updating their technology. For example, they have installed occupancy sensors in areas like bathrooms and stairwells meaning that lights turn-on when they sense movement and turn off when no one is around. This leads to energy savings while maintaining necessary safety and convenience. Just recently, the showers in the main building were upgraded with low-flow heads.  Low-flow showerheads use about 44% less water (about 12 gallons less!) than normal heads while still producing a high velocity spray. Using less water means the Himalayan Institute has to heat less water, which leads to a savings in gas & water use…a win-win situation. The campus also purchases “green seal” cleaning products, meaning they’ve held up to industry environmental standards.

The Himalayan Institute recently received a grant to install a solar thermal hot water system on the roof of their main building. This exciting new development will meet the vast majority of the hot water requirements of the entire main building and represents significant energy and financial savings. The Himalayan Institute’s goal for the future is to become fully carbon-neutral and energy self-sufficient through improved energy efficiency and adopting renewable energy solutions like the solar thermal system. Stay tuned for updates! 

Wayne Businesses Conserve! is a pilot program sponsored by SEEDS, Workforce Wayne and PPL Electric Utilities. Run throughout the summer of 2010 in Honesdale, PA, this program aims to recognize the energy conservation efforts of local businesses, share simple, affordable and economically sound conservation techniques and raise awareness about a sustainable energy future. Each WBC! participant has met established criteria in 6 different categories: energy conservation, renewable power, transportation, water conservation, purchasing & waste prevention and recycling & composting. Please contact WBC! with any questions at wbc.seeds@gmail.com or visit http://waynebusinessesconserve.weebly.com for more information.

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At the Himalayan Institute, residents are biking enthusiasts!
10/1/2013 15:31:42

The Himalayan Institute’s goal for the future is to become fully carbon-neutral and energy self-sufficient through improved energy efficiency and adopting renewable energy solutions like the solar thermal system.

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