Druk White Lotus School Ladakh Uses Solar for Water Pumping & Electricity


  • Druk White Lotus School has an innovative and eco-friendly architecture and also has won several international design awards such as the  2002 World Architecture Awards for Best Education Building, Best Building in Asia, and joint winner for Best Green Building.
  • The school generates its own electricity with the use of solar panels.
  • The source of water  for this school, for that matter for the whole of Ladakh, is the snowmelt from the Himalayas. Groundwater from over 100-foot  deep water table is pumped by solar power to  to  large reservoirs which are used for irrigation of plants as well as for drinking purposes.
  • The school also has ventilated improved pit latrines /water-less toilets forits students and teachers.

My earlier post was about a  60-year-old school @ Wadala that powers its classrooms using solar power .Here, is another school @ Ladakh that employs solar energy for water pumping as well as for its energy needs and is  also known for its eco-friendly architecture.More details about the efforts carried out by this school are as follows:

Name of the School – Druk White Lotus School
Founded: His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa
Activities: A Whole Lot of Sustainable Projects, Chief Among these being Solar
Highlights: Many Sustainable Concepts Used – Improved and Sustainable Pit Latrines, Gravity Feed Systems, Passive Solar Lighting, Use of Solar Power for Water Pumping and Power…
Location – Shey, Ladakh, State of Jammu & Kashmir
Web Site:


Druk Lotus School is Buddisht school founded in 1992 by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa. The school has a strength of 500 local students. The school is well- known within the locality for its modern education in the Ladakhi language. The school also teaches English and Hindi. The school is located in a area where traditional Tibetian Buddhist way of life is still practised.

The school has an innovative and eco-friendly architecture and also has won several international design awards such as the  2002 World Architecture Awards for Best Education Building, Best Building in Asia, and joint winner for Best Green Building.

The school was designed and constructed by  Arup Associates; the buildings combine  traditional Ladakhi architecture with 21st century engineering  and act as a model for appropriate, cost effective and sustainable development.

Image of Druk White Lotus School, Courtesy:

Key  Sustainable Features of Druk White Little Lotus School

Solar panels work quite well @ Ladakh due to its high and consistent exposure to direct sunlight, hence, classrooms get solar power

Ladakh witnesses a very hot summer and is very cold during winter. However, even  during the winter months when the temperature -30° C, the place experiences intense sunlight.

This school has been designed and constructed in such a way that it uses natural resources such as solar radiation, shading and natural ventilation. The school generates its electricity as well contributes to reduced emissions with the use of solar panels.

Also, the classroom buildings are constructed in such a way that the solar panels placed on top of them get heated quickly due to their optimal south-east orientation. That apart, the solar facades are fully-glazed which gathers the sun’s energy and stores heat in high thermal mass walls. Therefore, solar panels work quite well @ Ladakh due to its high and consistent exposure to direct sunlight enabling the classrooms to get solar power

Solar Panels Fixed @ the Druk White Lotus School Premises. wwwImage Courtesy: DWLS Website

Solar Power for Water Pumping

Ladakh experiences little rainfall,therefore, water is a limited resource as far as this region is concerned. The source of water for Ladakh is the snowmelt from the Himalayas.

The water distribution system that is installed in the school reuses water for irrigation and directs any rainfall to planted areas. Groundwater from over 100-foot  deep water table is pumped by solar power to  to two large reservoirs.

One reservoir collects water for irrigating the plants while the other one is used as a drinking water for the school.

Drinking and irrigation water is then gravity fed to gardens and water faucets. When not driving the water pump, the solar panels feed batteries used to power the school’s computers.

Solar Water Heaters @ the DWLS premises.
Image Courtesy- DWLS website.

VIP’s ! – DWLS employs a Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) system toilets that uses no water instead is solar driven.

The advantage of such a system is that it encourages airflow and eliminate odours.  Most importantly, in a place such as this where there is very little water, this system is indeed quite useful. The VIP system is essentially a double-chambered system with an integrated solar flue that allows operation as composting toilets and the humus that is produced is used as a fertilizer. Essentially, the bacteria that is present in the composting toilet eat and digest the waste removing the pathogens and converting the waste to be used as a fertilizer.

Construction of the VIP’s. Image Courtesy’ – The Hindustan Times


VIP’s- Ventilated Improved Pit Latrines@ DWLS, Image Courtesy-

Hats off to the great minds and the architects behind this innovative construction! Let this school be a role model for all those schools and colleges that would like to switch over to renewable energy.

Here are some videos that shows how the DWLS was constructed – Video ; Video #2-; Video #3-

 Further Reading:


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