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Green Practices

Office and Operational Practices

  • Buy only recycled copy and printer paper and re-use until both sides are utilized.
  • Spirit Rock letterhead is printed with soy-based inks on recycled paper.
  • All cleaning materials are non-toxic, biodegradable and fragrance-free.
  •  We do not provide plastic bags for shoppers in our bookstore.
  • Use rechargeable batteries where feasible.
  • Use recycled paper towels that are composted after use.
  • Some staff live on-site, eliminating the need to commute to and from work.
  • Serve only vegetarian meals.
  • Use LED and CFL bulbs.
  • Avoid purchasing plastic materials wherever possible and purchase only compostable paper plates and cups when absolutely necessary.
  • People attending our events are encouraged to bring their own mugs, water bottles and lunch utensils.
  • Filtered water is provided throughout the campus for refilling bottles.

Solar Energy

  • Spirit Rock is working towards our goal of being 100% net energy neutral. 
  • Most electric vehicles used onsite are powered by solar energy.

In 2014, Spirit Rock installed a total of 336 SunPower 345w modules generating 105.9 kW of DC electricity.  The solar system is configured to allow for easy expansion, providing an additional 75.2kW of DC electricity. SunPower is a U.S. company and their ethical and green manufacturing processes have been vetted by independent industry experts. Using conservative industry calculations, this solar farm will eliminate between 2,400 and 3,600 tons of CO2 over 25 years, which is equivalent to planting 40 to 60 acres of trees.


  • Six 220V Electric Vehicle charging stations provided for staff and guests.
  • Shopping lists are consolidated to minimize travel into town and lower our carbon footprint.
  • Long-running carpool program and ride-share board on the website. 

Plants and Land Care

  • We plant mostly native, drought-resistant plants. Spirit Rock staff and volunteers do the majority of our planting during the fall and early winter in order to take advantage of the rainy season to help establish these plantings. Planting at this time of the year also conserves water and creates less of a dependence on irrigation systems, which are costly, high maintenance and disturb soil structure.
  • Strategic plantings are routinely carried out to preserve streambeds, address erosion and contribute to the biodiversity and wildlife habitat of the area.
  • We have planted over 400 native and drought-resistant shrubs and trees over the past five years.
  • We monitor, remediate and close trails to control erosion problems and protect our creeks.
  • We leave cut oaks (from Sudden Oak Death) to decompose naturally. This feeds the soil and emerging plants and trees and is best practice for stopping the advance of the disease. We treat and monitor as many of these susceptible oaks as possible.
  • We have been addressing and monitoring French broom and other highly invasive plants for the past 10 years.
  • As much as possible, we tend to fuel load build up in our woodlands and grasslands and are working towards regenerative grassland stewardship projects.
  • We have been working with Wildcare to tend to our barn owl and western bluebird boxes.
  • Spirit Rock’s Land Policy states that we will never use rodenticides or chemical and synthetic fertilizers of any kind on the land.
  • We purchase outdoor benches from an eco-friendly bench supplier to ensure our benches are made from sustainable forest products.

Reuse and Recycle

  • A diligent effort is made to dispose of surplus furniture on Craigslist or eBay.
  • Recycle building materials as well as paper, cardboard, glass and cans. Recycle bins are located outside of every building.
  •  Used computers and monitors delivered to e-waste recyclers.
  • We even recycle toilet paper rolls & wrappers.

Air Quality

•    Converted wood-fueled Council House fireplace to natural gas for cleaner air.

Green Features of Existing Construction

Meditation Hall:
•    Recycled siding used to prevent any old-growth timber from being consumed.
•    Passive solar ventilation reduces need for heating and cooling.
•    Cupola provides natural light, reducing electricity use.

Residence Halls:
•    Large skylights provide natural daylight, greatly reducing hallway lighting.
•    Water-saving fixtures such as showers and toilets.
•    Energy efficient windows.
•    Maintain one residence hall for individuals with environmental sensitivities.
•    No air conditioning used in residence halls.
•    Congregate living–co-op baths saves square footage, heating, and all resources used to build new spaces.

 If you have questions about our green practices, land stewardship or green building efforts, please contact Hayden Hicks, Facilities Manager at 415-488-0164 x 215.


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