September 2010

September 2010 Edition

Better is the New Bigger — An Interview with Doug McDowell, Green Building Overview, Architecture for Humanity, Homewise: Green and Affordable, Kidnapped by the House (part 5), Earthships Biotecture, Active Versus Passive in Rainwater Catchment, Before You Go Off-Grid, Everyday Green: Preserving Food, La Abundancia del Jardín Rizo: The Bounty of the Garden, My Own Garden: What’s Bugging My Squash?, Santa Fe Institute 2010 Global Sustainability School, Learning La Vida Verde: Education for Sustainability, What’s Going On!

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Juan the Bear and the Water of Life: La Acequia de Juan del Oso

by Enrique Lamadrid and Juan Estevan Arellano was selected by the NM State Library to represent New Mexico at last year’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The bilingual book was created to get kids to learn the story of the acequias. It uses folklore, oral history, archival history and genealogy in a thoughtful retelling of the celebrated NM legend of the stouthearted man who moved mountains and rivers to create La Acequia del Rito y la Sierra, the most famous traditional irrigation system in NM. It is a story everyone can appreciate. The eye-catching illustrations by Amy Córdova are More >

New Mexico Building Codes Address 2030 Challenge

A set of amendments to the NM state building codes for homes and businesses adopted by the Construction Industries Commission could make NM a leader in sustainable building. The amendments will require improved indoor air quality, water conservation, and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency over the previous codes. Part of the intention is to try to meet the 2030 Challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The amendments also seek conformance with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which is required for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.

The new code amendments attempt to integrate traditional methods of More >

Learning La Vida Verde Through Discovering Our “Caring” Capacity

How Education for Sustainability Can Improve Our Future

Tammy Harkins

“Education is not widely regarded as a problem, although the lack of it is. The conventional wisdom holds that all education is good, and the more of it one has, the better. The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the earth. If one listens carefully, it may even be possible to hear the Creation groan every year in late May when another batch of smart, degree-holding but ecologically illiterate Homo sapiens who are eager to succeed are launched into the biosphere” More >

Sustainability: Complexity and Hope

Santa Fe Institute Sponsors 2010 Global Sustainability Summer School

Ann Euston

It’s an abnormally hot July Tuesday in Santa Fe. In a St. John’s College conference room, thirty people sit in four groups hunched over game boards; each participant pretending to be a high level official of the imaginary emerging Country X.

They feverishly bargain over resource allocation decisions. Should we invest more in agriculture? Energy? Water supply? In the game, all these decisions dramatically affect Country X’s environmental and economic future. Dennis Meadows of the Club of Rome group and author of the pioneering 1974 Limits to Growth, sits nearby, plugging their More >

What’s Bugging My Squash?

Organic Solutions for Some Summer Pests

Susan Waterman

Four of the most frequent pests intruding Santa Fe gardens this summer – according to my own observations and comments from other gardeners – are the inspiration for this article. The good news on pests is that it’s often the case that a particular garden pest that appears one year may not be around the next, especially if plant residue has been removed from the garden at the end of the season. Cleaning infested debris out of your garden is a simple preventative measure when it comes to diseases. Also, the particular conditions of More >

La Abundancia del Jardin Rizo: The Bounty of the Natural Garden

Juan Estevan Arellano

In Chile Pepper Nation, several crops of Mesoamerican and Mediterranean origin have, over the centuries, acclimatized themselves to aridity, especially to water scarcity in the high deserts of northern New Mexico. Today, however, these superbly adapted foods have been marginalized and are now at risk of disappearing. While not all of these crops have completely disappeared from the landscape, some wild ones have definitely disappeared from the table. Today, most are treated more like an occasional delicacy, but there are several that remain available in mercados, even though they are gathered only by a few families, and eaten More >

Everyday Green – Preserving Food

Susan Guyette
  • Buying foods from local farmers in season when costs are lowest, and preserving is an important way to support the expansion of a local food supply.
  • Preserving your own foods, varying the seasonings, brings the possibility of endless variety to your meals.

Fall is the season of abundance, good prices on food, and if we stop to hear an inner voice, the time to start putting food away for the winter. Growing some of your own fruits and vegetables or buying in bulk from a farmer and preserving it will keep local food available through the coming months. Whether your interest More >

Before You Go Off-Grid

by Allan Sindelar

Seasoned pro Allan Sindelar shares his approach to designing high-performance off-grid systems: what works, what doesn’t, and how to select a top-notch installer.

In a nutshell:

  • An experienced off-grid installer can help make sure you get the system that meets your needs.
  • The interview process is critical to getting an off-grid system that performs to your expectations.
  • A professional installer will use site survey tools to find the best location for the PV array.
  • A thorough load analysis takes the guesswork out of system sizing.
  • Teaching the customer to understand and operate their system is crucial to post-installation satisfaction.
  • Regular maintenance of off-grid systems is More >

Active Versus Passive in Rainwater Catchment

Doug Pushard

In the arid Southwest, where droughts are a part of life, municipalities and individuals are capturing and reusing rainwater to conserve water, reduce costs, reduce the environmental impact of their residence or commercial building, and lessen the load on the municipal sewer and storm water systems. Rainwater harvested from rooftops can be used for drinking as well as for many non-potable applications such as irrigation and toilet flushing.

There are two general types of rainwater catchment systems – “active” and “passive.” Most professionally installed systems incorporate aspects of both to maximize water conservation.

Active rainwater catchment refers to systems that actively More >

Earthships Biotecture

Iginia Boccalandro

The King of Garbage lives! Michael Reynolds uses garbage and other materials to make houses completely off the grid: no hook-ups to any electrical services, city water, sewage or gas! Imagine never having another utility bill again!

Reynolds and his innovative construction company, Earthship Biotecture have been building what they call “Earthships” around the world for over forty years. In Taos County, New Mexico, over seventy Earthships share hundreds of acres as the Greater World Earthship Community, where they grow their own food, and strive to reduce the economic and institutional barriers between people and sustainable housing. They see their More >

“Kidnapped by the House” – Affordable Housing, Land, and the Green Imperative – Part 5

Rebekah Zablud Azen

The factor of land in home affordability has been discussed in preceding articles with emphasis upon the Community Land Trust as the most efficacious means of securing permanently affordable homeownership for this and future generations. We now turn to housing and the factors that make it affordable.

There are three fundamental and integrative concepts involved. The first is the house itself or the building, the second is labor, and the third is intelligent design for resources and energy, including infrastructure. When these three factors are properly analyzed and stitched together, a house will not only be uncommonly affordable, but More >

Homewise – Green and Affordable

Seth Roffman

Homewise is a nonprofit agency founded in 1986 to help low and moderate-income New Mexicans become successful homeowners. Seeking to help strengthen families and increase the economic and social vitality of communities, the organization provides financial counseling and offers classes (in English and Spanish) to teach people to maintain and repair their homes.

Homewise is the only certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) of its type, serving eight northern counties of NM (Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval and Colfax). The agency provides low-interest, fixed rate mortgages, home improvement and refinance loans. Homewise recently received More >

Architecture for Humanity – Santa Fe

Seth Roffman

From Santa Fe, New Mexico to Bogotá, Colombia, tens of thousands of people are benefitting directly from the advocacy, training and “bricks and mortar” structures designed by Architecture for Humanity (AfH), a nonprofit design services firm established in 1999 to help build a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. AfH’s volunteer network of 40,000 architects, designers and engineers carry out this mission through local chapters around the globe.

AfH’s projects often require a special sensitivity to the communities and cultures with whom they work. AfH’s volunteers, many of whom are seeking meaningful work, make sure to invest More >

Green Building Overview

The design, construction, and maintenance of buildings have a tremendous impact on our environment and our natural resources. The challenge is to build them smart, so they use a minimum of nonrenewable energy, produce a minimum of pollution, and cost a minimum of energy dollars, while increasing the comfort, health, and safety of the people who live and work in them.

Buildings are a major source of the pollution that causes air quality problems and the pollutants that contribute to climate change. They account for 49% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 25% of nitrous oxide emissions, and 10% of particulate emissions. Buildings More >

Better is the New Bigger

An Interview with Doug McDowell

Seth Roffman

Doug McDowell and Jim Satzinger have been designing and building homes in New Mexico for thirty-seven years. Both men served their apprenticeships and worked on-site before founding their own companies in 1976. Over the last year they have formed an alliance as McDowell Satzinger Fine Homes, a full service residential custom homebuilding and architectural design firm. Throughout their history McDowell and Satzinger have created many award-winning residential and commercial buildings utilizing various types of traditional and contemporary regional styles and techniques – adobe, frame stucco, rastra block, insulated concrete forms, poured pumice, straw bale and More >

The Santa Fe Youth Food Cadre Works to Ensure Good Food for Everybody

by Angela Harris, Christina Selby, Bianca Sopoci-Belknap

The Youth Food Cadre, a group of young social entrepreneurs, community organizers, and educators ages 21-31, is now in action in Santa Fe. You will see members of the Cadre like Kimber Lopez working at the farmers market booth to promote and expand the food stamp program, or visiting with farmers as part of the micro-loan program; or Ralph Vigil discreetly marching his army of young researchers in to compare the cost of a basket of food at different grocery stores for the Santa Fe Food Policy Council’s Community Food Assessment; or David Sussberg More >