You might wonder why a new heating system is worth reporting, what it has to do with Buddhism and why on earth busy government officials and local media would travel all the way to Lerab Ling on a freezing and rainy day to cut a ribbon. It's because the heater, Lerab Ling's first major renewable energy initiative, is a very important green project, which will significantly cut Lerab Ling's carbon emissions and our contribution to global warming. It is also an inspiration for others in the region to switch to renewable energy.
(L-R) Mme Christine Bouquet, Mayor of Lodève, Mme Béatrice Négrier, representative of the Region Languedoc-Roussillon and M. Jean Reverbel, Mayor of Roqueredonde launch the wood heater
Because it is highly efficient, the new heating system produces almost no ash at all, while reducing the production of both the greenhouse gas, CO2, (350 tons per year) and the acid rain producing SO2 (900kg per year).
It provides 80% of Lerab Ling's heating requirements via 900 metres of underground pipe network and 8 substations dotted around the Lerab Ling site, providing heating and hot water to all the buildings at Lerab Ling, including the temple. It was switched on in September 2009 and has been heating Lerab Ling ever since, keeping everyone warm and cosy during the recent cold snaps.
It uses waste wood, sourced from Lerab Ling and other local forests, reducing fire hazard and improving the sustainability of the forests. The heating system also reduces Lerab Ling's dependence on fossil fuel and will save Lerab Ling up to 50% on its annual heating bill.
It was built with the support of sangha members and grants from regional government agencies.
At the launch, Mme Bouquet, the Mayor of Lodeve, spoke about the very positive contribution Lerab Ling has made to Lodeve and the region. You can watch her speech (in French) here.
As Buddhists, we should lead by example and our understanding of the teachings should be evident in our actions. His Holiness the Dalai Lama always emphasises the need for us all to develop a sense of universal responsibility and to act personally to protect the environment for the benefit of all beings and future generations. He recently said:
I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and through concern for future generations, the proper care of the environment.The wood heater is a major step towards addressing our carbon footprint. But there are others the Lerab Ling community plans to take, so stay tuned for updates.