Our Zero Carbon Vision

Here at Crestone Mountain Zen Center, we are looking for ways to integrate our personal quest to be fully alive with a caring and meaningful response to the planetary ecological crisis we are facing.

We all ask the same question: What can we do? As Buddhists we vow to awaken and live for the benefit of all beings. When it comes to carbon emissions and climate stabilization, the time to act wholeheartedly on this vow is now! We know what to do. We must do everything to create a zero carbon economy and lifestyle.

We have decided to transform Crestone Mountain Zen Center, our Sangha home at the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, into a net zero carbon campus by 2030.

In 2017, we completed an energy audit and built a campus-wide energy model. In early 2018, we implemented the recommended energy efficiency measures and, despite growing program activity, reduced CO2 emissions by 12% in absolute numbers and 27% per user-night. In 2019, with the help of a local engineering group, we developed a campus-wide fuel conversion plan to switch all propane-fueled systems in our 12 buildings to electrical.

Right now, we are fundraising for a 50kW solar array that will reduce campus emissions by an additional 75%. We plan to connect the system in May 2020.

Next steps will be to incrementally complete the conversion to electrical and build a second 50kW array to provide the additionally needed solar energy. We are also working on the transition to electric cars.

Every year, on our Wild Dharma trips, the Sangha enters the wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Range, the pristine mountains behind our Zen Practice Center. We ask wild nature to teach us, to help us become aware of the undivided nature of our existence. Its beauty nourishes us and fills us with joy and aliveness. Yet, in our times of climate change and species extinction, wild nature’s fragility also calls us to action.

Therefore, we are determined to develop our Zen Practice Center as an ecologically responsible, sustainable and regenerative community that embodies the change the world urgently needs.

Each year, we touch many people’s lives: many Zen practitioners from different walks of life as well as guests, body workers, other spiritual teachers, college students, local community members, and federal land managers. While today’s ecological problems are planetary and require global political responses, we know that all transformative change is enacted locally. We trust that what we do at this Center can be an example and inspire others to join the larger, interdependent dynamic of transformation that is underway everywhere.

We have to act decisively and boldly. The whole Earth is calling us to action. We start by shining one corner of the world. Our corner, our home. And then, of course, we can make home as large as we want it to be.

“We say ‘to shine one corner of the world.’ That is enough. Not the whole world. Just make it clear where you are.”

(Shunryu Suzuki Roshi)

“We don’t have to act out of fear or guilt for not doing enough. We can commit to taking care of, protecting, and nourishing the biosphere and thus our own lives, simply because we choose to. Out of freedom!”

(Zenki Dillo Roshi)

If you want to become a campaign champion for this vision, please contact us for more information.

Our Zero Carbon Activities

Together We Did It! – A 75% Emissions Reduction

It is so satisfying to act collectively! Over two hundred supporters—204, to be exact—helped achieve and surpass our $119,000 fundraising goal for a 50kW solar array of 132 panels. It will reduce Crestone Mountain Zen Center’s carbon emissions from propane and electrical by 75%. Construction will begin in March 2020. Thank you, donors!   ∞…

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. Fundraising and Financing Fuel Conversion from Combustion to Solar Electric Energy Efficiency Electric Cars and Carbon Offsets When it comes to fundraising, we just celebrated a big success…

VIDEO: 15% Energy Reduction Complete

With donations from 147 Sangha members, we made our campus 15% more energy efficient. We are excited about the results! Take a look at the video above to see a documentation of the implementation process. As a next step, we are working on a fuel conversion plan to eliminate all propane combustion and completely switch to…

Zero Carbon – Looking Ahead to Phase Two

  In early December, we asked the Sangha and all of our guests and supporters to support our energy efficiency projects – Phase One of our larger Zero Carbon vision. Today, we’re excited to share with you that we reached our $25,000 fundraising goal and even exceeded it by $3,000. This means we can now…

After the Energy Audit… Next Steps

In January 2017, we completed a campus-wide energy assessment followed by a fuel conversion analysis in July. Both studies were funded entirely from Sangha contributions. Thank you donors! We now have a model of energy consumption, efficiency potentials, and fuel conversion ideas for each of our 12 buildings. The data tells us it’s possible to…

Committing to a Zero Carbon Campus

Crestone Mountain Zen Center intends to be a net zero carbon campus by 2020 and a true zero carbon campus as soon as societal and technological conditions allow it. What does “zero carbon” mean? Zero carbon means that the stabilization of climate and ocean acidification can only be achieved if all carbon emitting human activities…