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An Energy Audit for Tashirat Yoga Center and Orphanage

Written on: Friday April 4th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

Last week, after yoga class we started conversing with the instructor and mentioned that we were mechanical engineers with a background in renewable energy. Zayan, the instructor, got all excited and indicated to us that the center was looking to move over to energy self sufficiency and that they had even been contacted by a solar panel company interested in donated equipment to their orphanage. However, they had no idea where to start and needed to get some information back to the solar panel distributor. Rob and I happily offered to help- the first step must be to complete an energy audit to determine what size of renewable energy system they would need and also where they could reduce their electricity load. We ended up spending quite a bit of time at the center, working with Zayan on the energy audit over the next week. We learnt quite a bit about their center and got to know some of the children. It certainly is an interesting place. Although Tashirat started as a yoga, meditation & spiritual center, they have evolved over the last few years into a unique orphanage. I call it ?unique? because it does not resemble what I think of as a typical orphanage. Their 13 hectare property is divided into two parts: (i) the convention center and yoga retreat facilities and (ii) their homes. Nine adults and 25 children (from 4-17 years of age) live in 9 small individual homes, split into family-like units. In fact, we learnt that the adults living at Tashirat do not really even consider themselves to be an orphanage, the children are ?their? children and are treated as such. They have a strong focus on nutrition, which I think is very important after observing how poor the nutrition of the average Mexican child is (we?ve noticed that Mexicans in general eat a lot of sugar, processed foods and coca-cola, and many children have rotten teeth).

Rob and I helped them to account for and measure all of their loads, as well as provided them with some suggestions for eliminating phantom loads, reducing their overall electricity usage, reducing their water usage and improving the safety of their electrical systems. Rob especially was aghast after seeing the poor electrical practices? although we?ve noticed unsafe practices all over Mexico (I don?t think that there are standards) for electrical installations. For instance, it is not uncommon here to see someone put two wires into a socket for a light fixture instead of using a junction box. We?ve turned it into a little bit of a joke, and started a photo documentary of the ?Mexican Way?, i.e, the ?Mexican e-brake?: a rock placed behind one?s tire, ?Mexican traffic control?: giant speed bump in the middle of a high speed highway, ?Mexican water?: a bottle of Coca-Cola and so-on and so-on. If anything we are impressed with the Mexican resourcefulness and ability to take nothing and turn it into something, or make do with very little material supplies.


From Sloan on Apr 28th, 2008

hahah Mexican water! love it! I too am really impressed by how resourceful and entrepreneurial everyone is!