The Druk Padma Karpo School in Ladakh is built in a high mountain desert where the land and climate can create great challenges; low rainfall, barren terrain and the risk of earthquakes are three such conditions. The school has won multiple international architectural design awards for sustainability, having been developed with a focus on meeting these challenges.
Michael Kern, Craniosacral Therapy Educational Trust founder, has supported the Druk Padma Karpo School since its beginnings and has visited the region many times over a 35-year period. The PDF attachment looks at the effect that climate change is having on Ladakh.
Maintaining a supply of fresh, clean water can be a problem in Ladakh. The Druk Padma Karpo School has installed a gravity feed water system that pumps snow-melt into two reservoirs from about 30 metres underground, with one providing suitable drinking water and the other used for irrigation. Water is a scarce resource in Ladakh, so minimising its use is one of the key design features of the school.
In the winter months, the school is warmed using passive solar heating. While winters can be extremely cold, the sunlight is often still intense, so the buildings have been oriented to make the most of the natural light during these months. Heat is absorbed by the walls and stored in a design that allows it to be conducted towards the children’s dormitories at night-time.
The latrine systems at Druk Padma Karpo School are an upgraded version of dry pit latrines. They do not use water but feature a double-chamber design that eliminates problems with odour and flies. They are also used for composting, with an integrated solar flue to produce humus for fertiliser. This fertiliser can be used in the school’s Dragon Garden where pupils learn about sustainable agriculture.
Carbon Offset Systems
The school has been energy self-sufficient since 2008, powered through photovoltaic solar panels and converters. The system is part of the local carbon off-setting programme, meaning that tourists and travellers who wish to off-set the carbon footprint of their journeys can do so by making a financial contribution to the solar energy system of the school.