Getting Ready to Go 100% Solar – A Comprehensive Update

Crestone Mountain Zen Center is becoming a regional example for the globally necessary transition to a Zero Carbon lifestyle. We are currently working on four interrelated areas.

  1. Fundraising and Financing
  2. Fuel Conversion from Combustion to Solar Electric
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Electric Cars and Carbon Offsets

When it comes to fundraising, we just celebrated a big success with our recent Fuel Conversion Plan campaign. Thank you donors!

We encourage all Dharma Sangha supporters to stay engaged. If you have funding or financing ideas, we want to have a conversation with you. We are looking for government grant opportunities, warm introductions to foundations, low or zero interest private loans, etc.

A solar array covering all of our energy needs, when financed primarily through donations and grants, will eliminate $20,000 in annual energy costs for 25-30 years, the life span of the solar panels. These savings re-invested into green technology and energy efficient systems will make CMZC much more sustainable for decades to come.

Please help us achieve this goal – for ourselves and the biosphere of all sentient beings!

Fundraising and Financing

In three consecutive campaigns, CMZC has raised significant funds from Dharma Sangha members and supporters. We are impressed with your commitment and growing support for this vision!

  • 2016 Energy Audit: $9,000
  • 2017/18 Energy Efficiency: $28,500
  • 2018/19 Fuel Conversion Plan: $42,600

In addition, CMZC continuously generates support through its voluntary 3% Zero Carbon Fee on all student and guest rates. Please also consider supporting us through AmazonSmile.

Fuel Conversion from Combustion to Solar Electric

CMZC has 12 buildings with a hodgepodge of heating and domestic hot water systems fueled by three energy sources: propane, electric, and wood. We are partnering with Resource Engineering Group (REG) from Crested Butte to finalize a comprehensive fuel conversion plan that provides a conceptual design for switching all propane-fueled systems to electric and then building an on-site net-metered solar array to provide all of the required electric energy. It also makes detailed suggestions for energy efficiency measures for all 12 buildings.

In this plan, five wood-burning stoves will be retained. CMZC is implementing a local wood harvesting strategy that integrates annual heating needs with incremental forest mitigation for forest health and fire control purposes. Local wood is considered a low to zero carbon heat source.

Energy Efficiency

In 2018, based on an energy audit, we implemented recommended energy efficiency measures and, despite growing program activity, reduced CO2 emissions by 12% in absolute numbers and 27% per user-night. We installed LED light bulbs, window covering, programmable thermostats, and insulation in the leakiest building on campus. This effort continues in 2019. We are currently in the process of adding much needed floor and roof insulation for six guest rooms and one residential cabin. As funds are available, we will begin to replace single pane windows.

Energy efficiency is an ongoing effort that will continue even after the solar array is built.

Electric Cars and Carbon Offsets

Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t” – this is the principle championed by Carbonfund.org, CMZC’s partner for carbon offsets. This is the only way carbon offsets make sense.

CMZC is currently focused on reducing its direct emissions from heating and domestic hot water production. However, our Zero Carbon Vision includes an examination and eventual elimination or offsetting of indirect emissions. Primarily, this is travel to and from the Center and the carbon footprint generated by the products and services we consume.

We have begun to look into switching CMZC to electric cars and installing a charging station on campus. In the meantime, we are offsetting CMZC’s car travel and our teachers’ air travel through a tropical reforestation program.