The multi award-winning Druk Padma Karpo School is located in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, in northern India. Construction of the school was undertaken by international architectural firm Arup Associates and began in 1998. The school was built in phases, with the first phase – the nursery school – opening for children in 2001. More can be learned about the Arup Group and Arup Associates in the attached PDF.

Today, the school educates children up to the age of 16, providing a modern education that is grounded in the traditional culture of Ladakh. The Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust, directed by Michael Kern, donates a percentage of its annual profits to the school.

Sustainability: The Heart of the Project

The Druk Padma Karpo School benefits from the implementation of award-winning sustainable design principles throughout the campus. For example, the school’s composting toilets are based on a traditional design, but they produce fertiliser for the on-site gardens. Year-round solar heating warms the classrooms, and specially designed heat absorbent walls within the buildings store daytime heat and then release it to warm the dormitories overnight.

Both drinking water and water for the irrigation of the working gardens are provided via snow-melt, pumped from two reservoirs to the school.

Neutralising the Carbon Footprint

The Druk Padma Karpo School also offers an opportunity to offset carbon usage through equivalent investment in the school. Since the school is self-sufficient through the use of solar power, supporters can make donations to offset their own carbon footprint through this scheme, which is independently accredited, approved and audited by ‘Beyond Carbon’, an organisation formerly known as the Tourism Industry Carbon Offsetting Service.

This efficient and valuable system means that the school makes a difference to sustainability beyond its own footprint. Take a look at the embedded short video to find out more about how carbon offsetting works.

Meeting the Challenge of Construction

Arup Associates have employed traditional building techniques alongside modern solutions to build the school. Ladakh is a high-altitude dessert that has few natural building resources, apart from rocks and mud bricks. Consequently, as using local materials has the least environmental impact, these have been used wherever possible. This results in buildings that adapt traditional building techniques to modern construction needs, and in doing so minimize the environmental impact of construction.

Further to a major mudslide in 2010, a major refurbishment project is currently underway on many of the original foundations. An embankment to protect against mudslide has since been constructed and this proved to be successful in 2014, when a further mudslide was diverted away from the school.