How You Can Help CNM Celebrate Earth Day 2022

April 19, 2022

CNM Celebrates a Happy Earth

From Bosque, poems by former Albuquerque Poet Laureate Michelle Otero,

Water 

This is New Mexico. Here

life walks in circles. In drought, we

the people look to the skies,

put a hand to the ground.

In drought, we

the people

are water.

(University of New Mexico Press, 2021)

For this year’s Earth Celebrations, CNM invites you to read about our sustainability accomplishments over the last decade, and to participate by writing an earth-themed poem about NM. Read more for details.

What’s up at CNM?

In 2008, CNM took its first steps towards reducing our impacts on the environment when former President Kathie Winograd signed a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and developed the “President’s Climate Sustainability and Climate Commitment Task Force.”  In 2009-2012 this task force identified areas of impact and suggested specific actions for each area. In the last decade, CNM has realized many of these goals.

Academics: In 2012, a total of 55 courses were recognized to offer a component of sustainability. In 2016, as institutional Strategic Direction was developed to increase sustainability in the curriculum, and a Campus Living Lab & Sustainability Project Manager was hired. Since, CNM has held workshops to assist instructors who wish to add Campus sustainability projects or assignments to their courses and has surveyed existing courses for sustainability components. Today, as a result of these ongoing efforts, CNM offers 230 courses that include an element of sustainability. Additionally, Campus Living Lab projects in Water, Low Impact Development, photovoltaics, and Waste Management, continue to thrive and receive community support through local partnerships and public recognition.

Energy: In 2017, CNM published its very first Energy Standards and Guidelines to support energy codes, wellness, and our overarching commitment to the environment.  These Guidelines have helped cut operational costs associated with building heating and cooling, information technologies, lighting, and more. CNM has also invested in state-of-the art systems, such as the ground-coupled heat pump system at Smith Brasher Hall (2019), and the large solar array (1 Megawatt AC) + energy storage system at Westside Campus (2021). CNM also constructs buildings to meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council and received one of NM’s first LEED Platinum ratings with the Max Salazar Renovation. Combined, all of these efforts have reduced CNM’s carbon footprint. Energy usage has fluctuated in the last ten years due to building modifications, space utilization trends, scheduling, the pandemic, climate change and more. Still, in the last decade, CNM has decreased electricity usage by approximately 33%.

Water and Grounds:  Water is especially important to our community for many cultural and environmental reasons. We are situated in a drought-stricken region, and the water that flows over our parking lots, rooftops, and landscapes goes directly to the Rio Grande. Therefore, CNM has championed water conservation and water quality best practices. In the last decade, it has become standard for all site renovations to receive climate-specific vegetation, efficient irrigation methods, Green Stormwater Infrastructure and other Low Impact Development features. Indoors, we install special plumbing fixtures to reduce water, such as low flow toilets. These practices conserve water and also slow the flow of rainwater to allow the plants and soils to naturally remove pollutants before it leaves our campuses. These native landscapes also attract wildlife and important pollinators, and they prevent heat from accumulating on campuses. In effect, our focus on water has made pleasant outdoor experiences for the CNM community. These efforts have been further supported by CNM faculty through curricular projects, by community partnerships, and by CNM Maintenance and Operations staff. We have received numerous local and national awards and have decreased indoor water use by more than 30% since 2012.  

Waste and Recycling: We’ve decreased our paper purchasing by four truckloads! There are 840 cases per truckload and ten reams of paper per case. One ream is 500 sheets. Can you do the math!? According to the college’s papercut reports, there has also been a 77.26% decrease in printed pages per year, or a 10.3% decrease on average per year since 2012. More good news; on average, CNM’s contamination rates for recycling are less than the average of the city, as evidenced by Campus Living Lab recycling audits provided by CNM and College and Career High School students.

Earth is Awesome! 

“We’re very proud of the progress we’ve made at CNM on reducing our environmental impact, improving our energy efficiency, and providing our students with real-world opportunities to learn about sustainability efforts right here on our campuses,” said CNM President Tracy Hartzler. “I’m looking forward to continuing our commitment to sustainability improvements, increasing our use of renewable energy, and creating more outdoor spaces for our CNM community to gather and enjoy.”

Let’s celebrate these accomplishments by reflecting through words! Please write an earth-themed poem about NM and submit it to sustainability@cnm.edu by May 15, 2022.

CNM’s Sustainability Committee will select winning entries to be featured on CNM’s social media accounts. Winners will receive prizes!  

Stay tuned to this News channel for other sustainability activities in the coming weeks.