Archive for June, 2012

GreenBuilt Tour 2012 – Healthy Homes, Healthy Families


June 9-11 in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos Areas


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) New Mexico Chapter and GreenBuilt Tour Committee are hosting the 13th Annual GreenBuilt Tour, June 9-10 from 10 am to 4 pm in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos areas. Twenty-one homes are participating, and 120 volunteers are helping make the tour possible. It all kicks off with a reception on Friday, June 8 from 6-8:30 pm in Algodones, at the first modular home to be included.


GreenBuilt 2012 is designed to showcase sustainable building practices that are healthy, attractive, practical and affordable.


The tour puts More >

Affordable Passive Houses Come to Santa Fe


Jonah Stanford


The first generation of certified Passive Houses has been completed in Santa Fe. Optimizing the economic advantages of the Passive House approach, these projects establish the cost competitiveness of Passive House construction when compared with typical regional construction projects.


The American Southwest has a long history of environmentally based architecture. However, the typical approaches to sustainability, such as earthen or straw-bale construction, are extremely labor intensive and therefore can be quite expensive. The associated passive-solar designs follow an energy model of high thermal losses balanced by high solar gain—a model requiring sustained solar exposure that is not often available.


The More >

The Net-Zero-Energy Home: How Does It Work?


Alan Hoffman

How is it possible to build a home with little or no annual utility costs at the same price as a conventional home?


In 1974 I built my first passive solar home and saved 80 percent on heating costs just by taking into account the orientation of the structure and improving insulation values. As the Pueblo Indians have long known, orienting a home with openings to the south uses the sun to help make a home more comfortable year-round. As the years passed, we worked to further reduce both our heating and utility bills.


New technology has made it possible More >

Calculate Your Home’s Energy Efficiency Today


Tom Wehner, Ph.D.


Why wait? Your home’s energy efficiency measure is an important piece of information in your decision on whether to invest in more insulation, air sealing, duct sealing, new thermostats, new furnace or maybe better windows. Calculate your home’s Home Heating index, or HHI, yourself, today and see how your home ranks. You may want to start energy efficiency improvements in the spring or summer when it’s easier to do yourself or when contractors are more available.

What is the HHI? The HHI is the amount of heat energy occupants of a house use to keep their home warm in winter, taking More >

The Southwest’s and the Planet’s Energy Future – Bright or Bleak?



Does the Consumer Really Have a Choice or Not?


Gerald B. Ansell


I have just listened to/watched yet another Presidential Address apologizing/justifying the ever-increasing gas and oil prices our energy guzzling and materialistically over-consuming nation are paying. The address was then responded to, literally within seconds, by equally short-time-frame responses from his “other wing” political opponents. It all reminded me of Harold Morgan’s recent syndicated “New Mexico Progress” articles. One entitled “PNM Turns Profitable” raised interesting, highly political and economically extreme concerns about what the truly long-term future energy supplies for the Southwest and indeed our nation’s and the whole vulnerable planet’s More >

Groundbreaking Strategy Announced for Wind Development in NM


Diverse groups collaborate to boost industry while protecting wildlife


After two years of work, nine leading wind energy companies and seven conservation groups in New Mexico, along with various state agencies, private and public stakeholders, have developed Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be used to ensure wind farms and nature can coexist. The NM Wind and Wildlife Collaborative (NMWWC) will help NM meet its renewable energy goal of obtaining 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, while protecting wildlife in the process. This collaborative effort of different interests affected by wind development came together to help preserve More >

Transmission Line for NM Renewable Energy


Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority and Power Network New Mexico have filed a request with federal regulators to develop a new 200-mile transmission line to transport solar- and wind-generated power from an area near Torrance County to PNM’s Rio Puerco station northwest of Albuquerque and then north to the Four Corners region. From there, the power would go to western markets.

The $350 million project “represents a practical near-term solution for addressing the lack of transmission needed for additional NM renewable energy development,” says Jeff Mechenbier, PNM’s director of transmission. Los Alamos National Laboratory, More >

A Solution at Our Fingertips


Luke Spangenburg


In the time it takes most people to read this sentence, the world will have used up about 8,000 barrels of oil—336,000 gallons; at 1,000 barrels per second. The fact is, global demands are rising while petroleum is diminishing. Sure, we can drill deeper or convert tar sands to fuel as a band-aid solution while we irrevocably damage our ecosystem. We can continue to occupy nation states in attempts to control the flow of resources as we undermine cultures and sacred places. Yet where will this lead? We all share the same planet.


What must we do to solve More >

Ground Broken for the NM Consortium’s Biological Laboratory in Los Alamos


Gerald Ansell


Senator Tom Udall and Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan attended the New Mexico Consortium Inc.’s (NMC) groundbreaking ceremony for LANL’s research and development facility at Entrada Research Park in Los Alamos on May 18th. The consortium is comprised of university faculty, scientists, engineers, administrators, planners and other contributors from the University of NM, NM State University, NM Institute of Mining and Technology, LANL and Los Alamos County.


The NMC has obtained a $2 million economic development grant from the county towards construction of the new facility, plus a lot-grant (estimated value: $640,000) at Entrada. Recruiting efforts of More >

Sapphire Energy Building Algae-Based Fuel Plant in NM


Sapphire Energy, Inc. has received $144 million from investors to build a demonstration plant in Luna County, NM for the production of crude oil from algae. Oil from the algae will be refined into diesel and jet fuel.


The US Dept. of Energy has provided a $50 million grant, and the US Dept. of Agriculture is providing a $54.4 million loan guarantee to the San Diego-based company. Backers of the project include Monsanto, which is interested in a project to identify genes that stimulate algae growth. Investors also include Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, LLC and Venrock Associates, the venture capital More >

Pit Rule Hearing to Resume June 20


On June 20, the NM Oil Conservation Commission will resume a public hearing regarding proposed changes to state rules for oil and gas drilling wastes. The commission has scheduled three more days to hear from six witnesses. The hearing will take place at Porter Hall in the Wendell Chino Building, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe.


The oil and gas industry, with the support of Gov. Martinez, is seeking to reduce their costs, and wants to amend or nullify the “Pit Rule,” which was approved in 2008 based on testimony from engineers. The current commission has refused to admit More >

One out of Two New Mexicans Live in Areas Hit by Recent Weather Disasters


Interactive Online Map Shows County-by-County Weather-Related Disaster History



After a year that saw many parts of the country hit by scorching heat, devastating wildfires, severe storms and record flooding, a new report released by Environment New Mexico documents how global warming could lead to extreme weather events becoming even more common or more severe.


In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather, and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States examines county-level weather-related disaster declaration data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 2006 through 2011. The report also details the latest science on the projected influence of More >



NM Behind In Adapting to Climate Change

 According to an analysis released in April by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Arizona, New Mexico and many other states are facing serious water shortages if steps are not taken in anticipation of climate change. The NRDC found that 29 states have done little or nothing to prepare for the impacts on water supplies of a changing climate.

The nonprofit NRD C did a detailed analysis on the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and potential regional changes in weather. David Doniger, NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Policy director, told reporters that government officials need More >

IMPORTING BEES: High Demand Creates a Huge Dilemma


Melanie Margarita Kirby


As a professional beekeeper, having dedicated 15 years learning how to keep healthy bees, I have witnessed radical changes throughout the industry—both nationally and locally. I write this article with the hope of further educating those who already have bees or are interested in establishing sustainable local resources. Since the emergence of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in 2006, a beekeeping renaissance is occurring that is bringing back a once dying art. Yet the bees are still dying. Some venture to ask, “What can I do to help the bees?”

First, the issue arises of where to get bees. More >

Everyday Green: Protecting Yourself from Pesticides


Susan Guyette



There are many ways pesticides are damaging — not only to the environment, but to people as well. Pesticides are neurotoxins, poisons designed to destroy the nervous systems of small creatures — insects. However, pesticides also attack the nervous systems of larger creatures — people, but we usually are not killed, at least not immediately.


The three categories of pesticides present in our commercial food supply are insecticides, herbicides (intended to kill weeds), and fungicides (intended to kill fungus). Insecticides and herbicides are used extensively in industrial agriculture’s growing of plants, and their residues are found in animals raised More >

Is Rainwater Harvesting Worth It In A Desert?


Maceo Carrillo Martinet, Ph.D.


KUNM, the University of New Mexico community-powered radio station, recently had an entire call-in show on conserving our state’s water resources. One person made the comment that NM should enact laws and policies that make it easier for someone to harvest rainwater for indoor, non-drinking use, such as flushing the toilet or washing your clothes. One of the guests on the show, a well-respected university teacher and water resources expert, responded by saying, “You know it sounds like a real attractive solution, but it turns out to be very expensive.” To prove his point, he explained that More >

del are llano / From the Arid Land


Fifth Annual Celebrando las Acequias – June 14-16 • Dixon, New Mexico

An acequia is only as good as its infrastructure

Estévan Arellano

Every decade there seems to be new terminology that everyone buys into without paying much attention to the roots of the word. In the ‘70s it was appropriate technology, then the word organic, followed by sustainability. Now it’s resilience.

But when it comes to the acequia communities, whether in New Mexico or elsewhere, of utmost importance is the infrastructure of these ancient systems, most of which are not in the best condition. They are no longer taken care of as before. More >

A Tipping Point for Sustainable Business?


Allan M. Oliver


On July 26th in Albuquerque the NM Green Chamber of Commerce and the NM Business Weekly will host a first-ever Sustainable Business Summit. The Summit will focus on the business case for why leading companies like Intel and others are working hard to become more energy efficient, conserve water resources, build more efficient infrastructure, improve their workplace and become more sustainable.


But isn’t this a tough economy out there? Why haven’t sustainability measures been cut? According to a new special report, “Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point” by the MIT Sloan Management School, it turns out that sustainability measures that More >