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Entrepreneur Connects Sustainability, Happiness, and Architecture in Bhutan

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Deependra Pourel believes that sustainability, happiness, and architecture are inextricably linked.

Located in the Southern Himalayas, Bhutan is a rugged and beautiful country nestled between India and Tibet.   Although it is a small nation, Bhutan is exploring the big questions of how to balance its exponential growth while promoting sustainability, especially increasing alternative energy options. With rising rural electrification and increased tourism driving a higher demand for energy, entrepreneurs such as Deependra Pourel are championing the way to energy sustainability by combining passion with progress.

As the owner of his own architectural firm, Deependra is one of the country’s first architectural consultants who has found ways to integrate environmental design and energy efficient structures into all kinds of urban, building, architectural, structural and electrical designs. He said, “I aspire to look beyond architecture as just a building to create a built environment that supports well-being and happiness.”

The Rise of Renewables             

With an increasing need for energy in Bhutan, this mountainous country’s primary source of renewable energy has come from hydroelectric dams. While the hydroelectric industry has had impressive success, nearly 75% of the hydroelectricity is exported to its fast-growing neighbor—India. Although India has made a large technological and financial investment in these structures, there has been nearly no private sector investment in the renewable energy industry in Bhutan itself.

Bhutan has every reason to grow its renewable energy sector.  Climate change is impacting winter snowfall, the intensity of monsoon season, and flooding in Bhutan’s rivers.  Inspired by the United Nations 2015 Sustainable Energy Goals, the country of Bhutan has renewed interest in exploring and investing in new forms of sustainable energy.

solar project in Bhutan

Bhutan’s Beauty In the Built Environment

With a Masters in Science in Architecture and Environmental Design from the University of Westminster, Deependra is a self-employed entrepreneur, architect, environmental design consultant, and researcher.  He is guided by principles of environmental design and climate responsiveness.  His passion for integrating built design with sustainable consumption and renewable energy applications has made him a one-of-a-kind pioneer in a country searching for answers.

As an active researcher, Deependra has presented papers at numerous conferences and in publications worldwide with many success stories in using research and data analysis to promote sustainable design.  For example, he recently presented at INASP, an international development charity, with the mission of supporting institutions to use research and knowledge to transform lives.  Through Deependra’s strong research-oriented approach, he has conducted energy audits for over 40 industries in his country as the technical expert for an EU funded project focused on Sustainable and Efficient Development.

Deependra’s intelligence, background, and passion for integrated environmental design have helped shape the sustainable energy sector in Bhutan. Deependra’s architectural consultancy firm, Design Studio, has completed many incredible projects around Bhutan over the years.  The company has designed and installed breakthrough renewable energy projects, using solar photovoltaics (PV), solar water heaters, energy meters, and other technologies. 

Landmark projects include installing Solar PV’s at the UN Office in Bhutan and designing and overseeing the construction of the Revenue and Customs Department building located in Gelephu.  Has also designed large infrastructure projects including the Sherubtse College project (one of his best works!) and Losel Gyatsho Academy with facilities as 350 bedded girls hostel, kitchen and dining facilities, and an indoor multi-purpose hall with a rooftop garden.   He is currently working on an improved energy meter display for individual homes.

Deependra’s desire to help his country increase sustainability does not stop with energy-efficient structures.   He is also committed that his architectural designs promote happiness and health. He designs his building not only to be beautiful and sustainable but also to help improve the lives of the people living in and around them.

Bhutan on global map

Commitment is a Renewable Source of Energy

Deependra has an unrelenting commitment to the people of his country.  I am so impressed with the abundance of energy within him.  He is currently working with Bhutan NGOs to help them raise funds and increase their voice in the government. He also has plans to enter more international competitions to help share and promote his approach to sustainable architecture.  In addition to being an incredible entrepreneur, Deependra is a husband and a father. He acknowledges that his wife and son are his support structure and “the key to his strength”.   

Deependra says nothing will stop him from achieving his goals of “ensuring happiness and sustainability in the built environment”. As a last word of advice to all sustainable entrepreneurs out there he says: “Do not measure how fast you can run but now long you can run. Sustainability is more about action and not driven by results alone.”

Deependra in front of his solar pv project

Thanks for reading! This interview and story have been created by me, Allison Bashford. I’m a new Management graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and currently do research and financial work with U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Environmental Information in Asheville, NC. Deependra is an inspiration to me and I hope he is to you as well!

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