Sustainability at Dorje Denma Ling

Dorje Denma Ling continues to grow to better serve the Shambhala Community and our goals of fostering good society.

By Nyima Wimberly and Dominic Watson Wall

Secrete: Sustainability for Dorje Denma Ling and the Region

This year we placed the first dot in the creation of permanent staff housing, beginning construction of a hemp-lime masonry building this July in Tiger Field. This project not only represents a milestone for Dorje Denma Ling, but for sustainability in the region.

Hemp-lime masonry (or hempcrete) was chosen for the new staff housing not only for its remarkable energy efficiency, longevity, and other excellent qualities, but because it has a clear potential to benefit our region as a building material and a sustainable economic driver for farming and manufacturing. Additionally, this first in a series of hempcrete staff buildings also is notable for its recycled steel roof, passive solar design, and innovative foundation and floor. The new staff housing will serve as homes, testing sites, and training grounds for builders.

Hempcrete has a diverse and almost unbelievable array or benefits.

  • Absorbing carbon as it grows, hemp is a carbon negative building material.
  • The three main ingredients for hempcrete can be produced locally, cutting down on our carbon footprint and overall costs, as well as supporting our regional economy.
  • Best estimates indicate that hempcrete buildings can last for hundreds of years and possibly far longer.
  • It is resistant to mold, fire, and vermin.
  • Hempcrete has a substantial R value as well as temperature-regulating thermal mass, making it a superior material for both cold and hot climates.

We’re “opening the flower.” Working with Steve Allin, an innovator and world-leader in hempcrete construction, we hosted Canada’s first public training in using this exciting material. Soon after, students working under Kim Thompson, a well-known and respected environmentalist and professor at Dalhousie University, visited to learn about and experience hempcrete construction. Dorje Denma Ling will continue to expand its own sustainability at the same time as it trains and collaborates with others to do the same regionally and around the world by offering workshops on natural building and acting as a public demonstration of sustainable construction and community.

Long-Term Infrastructure

In addition to the staff housing, this year marks many other significant steps forward in the development of Dorje Denma Ling.

A beautiful new shower house was build this summer, with low-flow shower heads, highly insulated water-heaters, outdoor sink, and an adjacent new composting toilet. This was much-needed infrastructure to keep pace with larger and larger summer retreats. While the new staff building and shower house are visible to everyone walking the land, there has also been a great deal of important work happening underground. Not only was a new sewage system installed, but water, sewer, internet, and electricity lines were buried across the land, ready to support the next several decades of development.

In keeping with our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and be an example of sustainable and sane society, we are preparing to add a root cellar to the kitchen storage area. This will reduce our electricity costs and add needed space for food storage.