The “La Verna” hermitage of the Holy Korean Martyrs Province of Korea is located in Ak-yang at 450m altitude of Jirisan (a mountain located in the southern region of the country). The brothers of the fraternity lived without electricity since 2007 and finally completed the hermitage with a “zero energy construction method” in 2013. It means the building doesn’t need any power supply from outside.
The friary produces 18.75 kW/day electricity and enough hot water by solar power. For the heating system of the house, we maximize the use of natural sources, such as natural solar heat, body heat, and heat from cooking, etc. As a result, the indoor temperature in winter is kept around 18 – 20 degrees Celsius without any heating system. The only exception is the coldest two months in winter when the brothers use a wood boiler, the single auxiliary heater, only once a week. Another secret to reducing heat loss in winter is to keep all the windows closed and use the ‘heat recovery air purifier (circulator).’ The heat recovery air purifier sends the indoor air out and takes the outdoor air into the house for 30 minutes every two and a half hours. But when it brings the outdoor air in, it absorbs the indoor heat and mixes it with the cold fresh air. This way, it can minimize heat loss and maintain the maximum indoor temperature. The energy efficiency is maximized by making the windows to the south large and the windows to the north small.
As for lighting, LED lights and natural light are used to the maximum. For drinking water, friars purify the surface water and the valley water naturally. They do vegetable farming for food and labor. Necessary compost for agriculture is made of fermenting deciduous leaves, food waste, and excrement from the ecological toilet.
The principle of living of the hermitage is to live a life in simplicity, frugality, and moderation.
Br. Francis Jeawon Kim, OFM
Guardian, La Verna Fraternity
Holy Korean Martyrs Province, South Korea