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Nature Funding Last Hurdle For Sikh Temple With Green Design


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Funding last hurdle for Sikh temple with green design

Funding last hurdle for Sikh temple with green design | si - Local News - Appeal-Democrat

Gurdwara green is slated to be the shade of the new Sikh temple on South George Washington Boulevard.
The Guru Nanak Sikh Society has cleared almost all hurdles toward starting construction — including a battle with Sutter County and a hearing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal — except for funding. The building design includes plans for solar panels, sustainable building materials and the planting of hundreds of trees.

"If we can pull this thing off, it will be a gem," said project architect Mohinder Singh Datta. "I think it's a very modern building but it's also traditional."

Construction of the proposed $10 million temple at 1298 S. George Washington Blvd., can begin as soon as enough money is raised for the first phase of building. Cost of developing the 29-acre grounds and preparing the utilities is estimated at $2 million.

Members are eager to see the state-of-the-art temple break ground, said society spokesman Sukhcharan Singh. The temple grounds will have three principal parts that border a center courtyard.

Bordering the courtyard to the south would be an eating place and residential quarters. The northern building would have a library, computer room, gymnasium and space for Sunday school.

The temple would be pentagon-shaped to eliminate wasted space, he said. Wo shipers often do not want to disrespect the holy book so they sit in front of it rather than the sides.

Many small details have yet to be decided on, but lighting and cooling are primary focuses for energy efficiency, Datta said.

Plans call for the side buildings to have rooftop solar arrays to generate most of the temple's electricity. Large awnings would shade the buildings to minimize air conditioning as window-filled walls maximize natural lighting and air flow.

Many building materials are planned to be renewable or easily recyclable, such as bamboo flooring and rice straw insulation, Datta said. Existing trees and planting of additional greenery would counter carbon dioxide emissions and help with cooling.

"There will be lots of trees because it's an orchard area," Singh said. "It should blend into the backdrop of Yuba City."

Other design elements are largely traditional, such as the customary Sikh flag to be raised at the end of the elevated road that leads to the temple.
"This is from the olden days," Singh said. "People can see from far away that this is a religious place."

The focus on the number five will be extensive, as it is in the Sikh religion, Datta said.

The courtyard's large reflecting pool would spout five jets of water to represent the Panj Piare, or five loved ones, who gave their lives for the religion, he said. It will also remind worshipers of the fundamental tenants of Sikhism.

"There needs to be a willingness to give everything you have to do the right thing, to help people that are downtrodden, to support those in need," Datta said.

The elevation changes to enter the lowered courtyard and to ascend into the temple, creating a sense of humility, he said.

The entire temple grounds have been raised so even in the worst-flood scenario, the prayer hall would be significantly above the flood plain, Datta said. It also allows worshipers to park under the temple.

Some elements of the green design are a bit new for the area, said Leanne Mueller, senior planner with Sutter County.

"Increasingly we've been seeing people incorporate solar into a lot of agriculture businesses," she said. "We haven't seen it so much as part of the design of an actual temple or commercial building."

Sutter County has approved the design, but the temple still needs to submit plans before receiving building permits, Mueller said. Once building permits are issued, progress must be shown every six months.

Construction should begin as early as this summer, but a completion date is not yet known, Singh said.

"I wish I could say 2012, but that is a very far-fetched dream," he said.
Five years from now may be more realistic, he said. Anyone can contribute to speed the progress.

Construction of the temple had been hotly contested for several years before a federal appeals court ruled the Guru Nanak Sikh Society was within its right to build a temple in the agricultural-zoned area.

Sutter County originally rejected the Guru Nanak Sikh Society's request to convert a 2,300-square-foot home into a temporary temple at that location, calling it "leapfrog development." Neighbors also had complained the temple would increase traffic and noise, interfere with agricultural use of their land and lower property values.

The Guru Nanak Sikh Society appealed the board's rejection, which was overturned in 2006.

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