The annual Sustainable Santa Fe Awards were presented by New Mexico State Sen. Peter Wirth on April 8 at a gala sponsored by the city of Santa Fe’s Sustainable Santa Fe Commission, Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Earth Care, Green Fire Times, Horizons Sustainable Financial Services and La Fonda Hotel. The awards celebrate community members taking leadership roles in advancing sustainability in the areas of environmental stewardship, economic health and social justice. They recognize model projects that are helping Santa Fe reduce its ecological footprint, mitigate carbon emissions and build resilience in the face of climate change, in accordance with the Sustainable Santa Fe Plan.
And the winners are…
Affordable Green Building
Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity (505.986.5880, email@example.com)
Habitat for Humanity built highly energy-efficient “Passive Homes” that require strict benchmarks for insulation, air infiltration, air quality, solar gain and solar panels. The homes are expected to use only 28 percent of the amount of energy of a conventional home. They were made available to low-income residents earning less than 60 percent of the area’s median income, with zero-percent interest financing.
Renewable Energy or Energy Efficiency
Anne Alexander and Richard Khanlian with Homewise (505.983.9473, www.homewise.org)
Ann Alexander and Richard Khanlian, working through Homewise, have created the Santa Fe SOL (Solar Opportunity Loan) fund, which provides low-interest loans for solar installations to low- and moderate-income households that would otherwise not be able to afford solar. The initiative also provides education about the benefits of solar.
New Mexico Department of Transportation – District 5
NMDOT repaved the full width of Rabbit Road from Old Pecos Trail, with rehabilitated shoulders for pedestrian and bicycle travel. The project provides safe, nonmotorized access to those traveling between the Rail Trail and Santa Fe Community College or Rancho Viejo, allowing Santa Feans to reduce the carbon footprint of motorized vehicles.
New Energy Economy (505.989.7262, www.NewEnergyEconomy.org)
The nonprofit advocacy group New Energy Economy—“addressing the climate challenge with bold solutions”—worked with people and organizations throughout northern New Mexico that would be adversely affected by PNM’s proposed power-replacement plan. The alternative proposal the group developed gave people a voice for a plan that would be healthier and more just for all PNM customers.
Water Efficiency Rating System (WERS) Development Team (505.603.5498, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The WERS Development Team created an innovative, performance-based, water-conservation tool for new and existing homes. It is an easy-to-use interactive software program to assist in designing and building or in water use to reduce the energy and carbon footprint required to process drinking water.
The WERS rating was a collaborative effort of the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association’s Green Building Council, Santa Fe Water Conservation Committee, Santa Fe Community College, Build Green New Mexico and the nonprofit Green Building Coalition. It has been accepted by the New Mexico Construction Utilities Commission and will likely be adopted nationally.
Food Systems Adaptation
Santa Sidra Cider (505.424.6122, www.santasidra.com)
Santa Sidra Hard Cider produced 100 percent of its award-winning handcrafted beverages with 25 tons of apples from New Mexico growers that otherwise would have been wasted. In 2014, this generated over $25,000 in revenue for farmers, created local jobs and helped keep local orchards alive and preserve New Mexico’s agricultural heritage.
New Mexico’s apples make excellent hard cider because they come from high-desert orchards, grow in mineral-rich volcanic soils, get abundant sunshine, hot days and cool nights, and are watered by historic acequia irrigation systems. All of this results in ciders with amazing flavors.
Student Wellness Action Team (email@example.com)
Student Wellness Action Team (SWAT) members participated in a campaign to ban the sale of miniature liquor bottles on Santa Fe’s South Side. SWAT members created an educational video about the Airport Road areas and the influence of the availability of alcohol on underage drinking, community self-image, stewardship and health.
Community Outreach or Education
This partnership launched a school-lunch waste-composting program in Santa Fe’s elementary and community schools that educates over 5,000 students about the effects of food waste on the environment and the value of soil for healthy food. The program is cost neutral and diverts over 1,500 pounds of food from the landfill daily, preventing more than 810 tons of CO2 from polluting the atmosphere. The waste is turned into organic compost that can be used to enrich the community’s soils.
SFPS’s energy and conservation program has also significantly reduced consumption of water, natural gas and electricity and has installed 500 kW of solar photovoltaic on eight campuses.
Tesuque Pueblo Agriculture Department (505.983.2667)
Tesuque Farms has built an amazing seed bank of local heirloom seeds and is experimenting with low-water and space-efficient cultivation methods. Their processing facility and several greenhouses are powered and heated by solar and “earth battery” technology. Their new vertical growing system for strawberries allows them to cultivate 12,000 strawberry plants in a 25×60 -ft. greenhouse, with minimal water. They are also experimenting with fruit trees in hoop houses to protect them from early frost. These experiments will inform the entire region about how to adapt local food cultivation to changing climactic conditions.
Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute (518.332.3256, www.4bridges.org)
Four Bridges led the development of the Northern New Mexico Coalition Against GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The group brought awareness about the detrimental effects of GMOs to the Española mayor and city council and to area tribal governments. This initiative prevented 80 acres of GMO poplar trees from being planted and has instead inspired sustainable agricultural development.
Triple Bottom Line
AlphaGraphics Santa Fe (505.473.1300, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Triple Bottom Line award is presented to a business that balances economy, environment and equity in its practices. AlphaGraphics is the only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified printer in Santa Fe. FSC standards (www.fsc.org) help prevent clear cutting and protect indigenous peoples’ rights.
This volunteer-run group’s mission is to encourage all residents of Eldorado and the 285 Corridor to reduce the amount of material they send to the landfill by practicing the “5 Rs”: Refusing to buy unneeded items; Reducing unneeded packaging of what they buy; Repairing what they can, to extend its life; Reusing other people’s unwanted things in place of buying new; and Recycling whatever can’t be repaired or reused.
The group’s “Compost in Every Backyard” project has provided materials, labor and education for home worm-composting to 40 homes. It is estimated that this prevents 12 tons of food scraps from going to the landfill each year.
Fiberspan Concrete Elements (505.278.0464, www.ConcreteVigas.com)
Fiberspan Concrete Elements has created innovative, sustainable vigas, canales, headers and other elements that last at least 50 years, using a cement that takes one-third less energy to produce than regular cement. The products look like wood but last longer and hold up to the ravages of water and ice. This saves homeowners having to replace wood canales every seven to 10 years.
Green Economic Development
Fruit of the Earth Organics (505.310.7917, www.fruitoftheearthorganics.com)
Fruit of the Earth Organics produces organic medical cannabis products in Santa Fe, creating more than a dozen good-paying jobs. The production process has a nearly-zero carbon footprint. It uses much less energy and water than conventional growers. The plants grow year-round in full sunlight and are watered with spring water and rainwater catchment. Earth-friendly packaging is used, with recyclable tins, compostable bioplastics (made from plants) and recycled paper labels.