Earth Day 2018: How CNM is Leading the Sustainability Charge
Cindy Mortensen, the Associate Director of Enrollment Services, plants flowers in the garden beds outside the Student Services building.

Earth Day 2018: How CNM is Leading the Sustainability Charge

From new recycling projects to cutting-edge solar installations, find out more about what the college is doing to be a good environmental steward
April 24, 2018

Earth Day was first celebrated back in 1970 and was ushered into existence by Senator Gaylord Nelson. At the time, “environmentalism” was not a common word and the United States was plagued with environmental problems, from terrible air quality to frequent and devastating oil spills. To change things, Senator Nelson and other organizers helped get 20 million people into the street on April 22 in 1970, setting off a social movement that has endured to this day. By 2000, nearly 200 countries were participating,

CNM’s proud to celebrate Earth Day by working hard on a long list of projects that are making the college, and our community, a leader in the growing sustainability movement. Here are some of the highlights:  

Recycling and Recyclemania

The Recyclemania competition wrapped up with the Recyclemania Grand Finale on March 29, when approximately 300 students learned about recycling best practices and pledged to refill their water bottles in lieu of purchasing plastic throw-away bottles. Students in Asa Stone’s Psychology 2200 class (statistical principles) also participated by analyzing recycling data on Main Campus to show whether or not the reorganization of recycling bins influenced student behavior. This data will be used to generate a case study that will be published by the Recyclemania Organization, and it will guide CNM’s recycling standards.

Garden Bed Adoptions

The garden beds between Max Salazar Hall and the Student Services Center on Main Campus have been adopted by Culinary Arts instructors to grow food for curriculum. They plan to harvest the goods and cook with them in their labs and at the Street Food Institute Café. Another garden bed has been adopted by the Enrollment Services department.

Energy Submetering and Dashboard Project

One of CNM’s 2018-2019 sustainability projects is the installation of electrical submeters on all buildings across CNM campuses. Many of the buildings currently share electrical meters, so it’s difficult for CNM’s Physical Plant to pinpoint issues and manage energy effectively. This project will allow for staff to see real-time electrical data for all buildings. There will also be energy dashboards that display energy data for students in electrical and HVAC classes.

West Side Solar Array

Another 2018-2019 sustainability project is the installation of a large solar array at the Westside Campus. This facility will include battery storage to target peak demand and a learning component for the Electrical Trades (AAS) Photovoltaic Concentration program, which is one of CNM’s many Campus as a Living Lab efforts.

Rio Rancho Arroyo Monitoring

A CNM Geographic Information Systems mapping class with faculty member Ron Forstbauer has been using drones to monitor the erosion of the arroyo at the Rio Rancho Campus. This project supports long-term sustainability goals for the development of Rio Rancho Campus, the objectives of Southern Sandovol County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, and the overall commitment to the health of local water resources.

If you’d like more information about any of CNM’s sustainability efforts, or to get involved, please email Molly Blumhoefer at