In January 2011, the stunning new Trades and Advanced Technologies Center (recently awarded LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council) opened at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC). Serendipitously, at the same time, a $1-million grant to fund a state training center for the Department of Energy Weatherization program was awarded to New Mexico, and SFCC was chosen as its home. The New Mexico EnergySmart Academy (NMESA) was created and housed in a new building. With that funding and an additional $500,000 from the Department of Labor a year later, NMESA could purchase state-of-the-art equipment and develop a quality curriculum to meet the needs of a workforce that requires high-level technological training as energy efficiency becomes more and more important to our climate goals.
Over the almost five years since its beginning, NMESA has trained hundreds of people for technically demanding careers in energy efficiency; from the Home Energy Raters whose services are used by every builder in the city of Santa Fe, to energy auditors, crew leaders, inspectors and hands-on installers working in the federal low-income weatherization program, to the people who manage and operate state buildings and other large commercial enterprises.
Not only has NMESA become the go-to location for energy-efficiency training in the state, but students from Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and elsewhere come to Santa Fe for specific training they cannot get in their home states. NMESA has been accredited by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) for its four core energy-efficiency programs, one of only a handful of training centers nationwide. As more and more students come from out of state, much of the lecture-oriented curriculum is now delivered in an innovative, online format so that students have an engaging, highly interactive hands-on experience that is time- and cost-effective.
NMESA has acquired a national reputation for excellence. In 2014 the academy developed a step-by-step, photo-illustrated field guide for over 250 different specifications in retrofit energy-efficiency work that is now being used by 26 states. Staff is regularly invited to speak at conferences across the country about the work being done here.
Back in Santa Fe, NMESA staff work on the mayor’s Climate Action Task Force working group for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, help as the city revises green building codes and collaborates on many energy-efficiency initiatives around the state. In September, NMESA was awarded the 2015 New Mexico Association of Energy Engineers’ “Energy Professional Development” award.
For homeowners, a series of short videos on many different aspects of energy efficiency has been developed in both English and Spanish and can be found in the following videos:
For more information about the NMESA, go to: www.sfcc.edu/nm_energysmart_academy. For more information about the programs in the Trades and Advanced Technologies Center at SFCC, go to: www.sfcc.edu
Amanda Hatherly is the director of the New Mexico EnergySmart Academy at SFCC, a member of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Working Group for the Climate Change Task Force, and a Sustainable Santa Fe Commissioner. Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org
Five Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners
1. Switch from incandescent lightbulbs to LEDs.
2. Buy EnergyStar® appliances, but read the label, as some are much more efficient than others.
3. Install storm windows rather than paying a lot of money for new windows.
4. Use your thermostat or buy a programmable one (not for radiant floor heating though).
5. Wash clothes with cold water—most newer washing soaps are formulated for cold water.