That rendering above doesn't look much better than what you'd see in The Sims, but at the very least that means they used less electricity to produce it; which is fitting, as it's a rendering of the Sustainable Living Center.
The currently-under-construction SLC, referred to in the press as the ultimate green building, is part of the Maharishi School of Management's Sustainable Living degree program. The outside structure of the building is complete, and sometime today the mayor of Fairfield (Iowa, where the school is located) will flip a switch on a nearby solar-powered Utility Cottage; at that point, all remaining construction on the SLC will be done using renewable power.
So what's the building actually for? It contains classrooms, research labs, recycling centers, offices, a greenhouse, and workshops for students. It will be completely off-the-grid, generating all of its own juice and taking care of its own utilities; no water will be piped in or out, as captured rainwater will be filtered to drinking quality and wastewater will be processed on-site. And it was built using non-toxic, locally available materials. But most of all,
It has been designed as a building that teaches. In addition to embodying sustainability, it will allow students to monitor performance and energy efficiency and make adjustments.
"The Sustainable Living Center will be a living, evolving building," said David Fisher, head of the MUM Sustainable Living Department, who helped plan the building. "The building itself is an educational tool, not just a passive one like most classroom buildings. It will provide participatory education where students will be continually adding to, or altering, the building and grounds as well as systematically checking its effectiveness."
Best of all, there are no wild, experimental technologies in use here; everything in the SLC is off-the-shelf and available today, which will hopefully prove inspiring to more people than the students lucky enough to study inside of it.