April 2017

Northern New Mexico College’s Renewable Energy Festival


“Bringing Power to the People” April 21–22


Northern New Mexico College in Española will host its first annual Renewable Energy Festival on April 21 and 22. The event will provide opportunities for the public to learn about and get involved with the transition to the new energy economy.


Friday evening, from 6-8 p.m., there will be a reception and performances at NNMC’s Nick Salazar Center for the Arts Theater featuring Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Creations, youth hoop dancers from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Peñasco Theater Collective, Moving Arts Española, Mina Fajardo Chuscales Flamenco, Cipriano Vigil, Marcos Cavalcante and David García, and the Sikh Choir. On Earth Day—Saturday, April 22—the festival will offer fun activities, food and user-friendly educational presentations and demonstrations. Some of the topics: How to save energy in your home; solar, wind and geothermal technologies; adobe, passive solar and green building techniques.


A partial list of the presenters—local experts living in the Río Grande Valley—includes:


Joaquin Karcher’s company, Zero E Design, has offices in Santa Fe and Taos. Karcher’s presentation is entitled Zero Energy Homes: A Solution for Fossil Fuel-free Living. He describes Zero Energy Homes as the next generation of efficiency, comfort and energy without pollution. The new building concept slashes heating energy consumption by 90 percent and is revolutionizing the building sector.


Eliud Salazar, of Cañones, N.M., a designer/builder who seeks to reduce the environmental impact of construction through careful design and implementation, will discuss adobe construction methods and their compatibility with passive solar and zero-energy designs.


John Ussery came to El Rito, N.M. in 1976 to work with one of the original passive-solar pioneers, Peter van Dresser. He has been involved with renewable energy, microgrid and digital media projects since that time. Ussery’s presentation at the festival will explore the local potential for using biomass fuel as an important component of sustainable forest management and the shift to renewable energy. 


Quentin Wilson taught adobe and solar classes at NNMC and is one of the organizers of the ninth Earth USA International Conference on Architecture and Construction with Earthen Materials, scheduled for Sept. 29–Oct. 1 in Santa Fe. His presentation at the festival is called Energy Conservation—Caulk Is Cheap. Wilson will include information on Architecture 2030’s guidelines for building homes and energy-efficient tips for existing homes. Architect Mark W. Chalom will speak about Passive Solar Design and blending traditional and contemporary styles with sustainable technologies. In addition, Mariel Nanasi, director of New Energy Economy, will speak about Unleashing New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Potential. Donna House, Judy Chaddick and Paula Breaux will discuss Community Impact Investment: Renewable Energy Equity.


The Renewable Energy Festival’s planners include Northern New Mexico College, Río Arriba County, the City of Española, Moving Arts Española, New Mexico Conservation Voters, representatives from Jémez Mountain Electric Cooperative and many community members. For more information, call 505.570.0300 or email info@movingartsespanola.org






Energy Conservation – Caulk is Cheap


Quentin Wilson– Presenter at NNMC’s Renewable Energy Festival


The first renewable energy is energy conservation. It does not get the publicity that solar and wind systems attract, but the first job in the design or operation of anything that consumes energy is to reduce the energy requirement through energy conservation.


Energy to heat and cool buildings can be reduced to zero following Architecture 2030 guidelines:

·        Orientation of buildings to the south

·        Reduction in volume of buildings to meet the occupant load without excess

·        Placing majority of glass on the south, less on the north and even less on the east and west

·        Proper orientation and glass arrangement heat buildings in the winter and, while less than obvious, cool in summer

·        Double-glazing in windows and doors further reduces heat loss. Clear glass is appropriate on the south. Glazing with coating to reject heat on east, west and north saves summer cooling.

·        Extra insulation in foundations, under buildings, on east, west and north walls and especially on the roof further cuts the energy requirements.


Existing homes:

·        Lower thermostat in winter

·        Raise thermostat in summer

·        Install storm windows

·        Stop air leaks

·        Add insulation where possible

·        Replace incandescent light bulbs

·        Turn electrical devices off completely

·        Get an Energy Audit


Energy to power automobiles can be cut in half with vehicles sized according to the load they carry. A Bentley Continental coupe weighs 6,000 pounds. 1980s Honda Civics weigh 1,800 pounds.


Solar energy can provide most of the energy for vehicles by 2030 and all of the energy by 2050. Jay Leno has had a solar-powered Tesla in operation for five years.


Energy needed for most industrial processes can easily be provided by solar, wind and hydrothermal resources right now if industries are willing to convert from coal, gas, oil and nuclear sources.




Integrating Biomass Fuel Use with Forest Restoration


John Ussery’s Presentation at NNMC’s RE Festival, April 22


Catastrophic wildfire is the most common natural disaster facing the forested areas of northern New Mexico. Wildfires also do lasting damage to the watersheds and habitats that rely on a healthy forest. Government funding is insufficient to accomplish the task of removing the huge volume of hazardous fuels that have accumulated after decades of suppressing natural fire. Expanding the use of biomass fuels obtained from forest thinning would give market value to wood that would otherwise be wasted, while creating jobs and restoring the economies of rural towns and villages.


Unlike wind and solar energy, woody biomass is obtained in a storable, easily transportable form. It can provide heat when the sun doesn’t shine and power when the wind doesn’t blow. In Europe and other places around the world biomass fuel is the primary source of non-fossil-fuel energy. There are numerous manufacturers of well-engineered efficient and clean-burning biomass boilers and furnaces. However, in New Mexico, highly touted large-scale biomass heating demonstrations have met with difficulties and failure.


There is great local potential for using biomass fuel as an important component of sustainable forest management and the shift to renewable energy. Current technologies such as chip boilers, wood gasification, biochar, combined heat and power and district heating systems will be discussed at this presentation. The issues of carbon emissions, climate effects, and processing costs will also be examined in an evaluation of biomass as a locally available source of renewable energy.




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