August 2020 Sustainability Newsletter

View as a webpage / Share


August 2020 Newsletter

Working the Land and Improving Buildings for a Cooler 2021!


bee gathering nectar

Promoting Pollinators 

Board of County Commissioners of Santa Fe County (BCC) unanimously passed Resolution No. 2020-51: A Resolution to Protect and Enhance Pollinator Species and Their Habitat Throughout Santa Fe County which recognizes the vital role that pollinators play in our ecosystem. The resolution, introduced by Commissioner Hansen, resolves that "All citizens are encouraged to take make their property pollinator friendly...and avoid the use of all pesticides known to kill pollinators." Learn more about how to support pollinators in your own backyard and in public spaces through the Xerces Society and NMSU's Integrated Pest Management Program, who recently presented a six-part webinar series on supporting pollinators and beneficial insects in northern New Mexico; these informative webinars will soon be uploaded to the NMSU ACES YouTube channel.  Additionally, New Mexico State University provides comprehensive information on how pests can be managed in a way that also promotes pollinator health through integrated pest management.   

codes in us

Supporting State Energy Efficiency Building Code

On July 28, 2020, the BCC unanimously approved submitting a letter to the Construction Industries Commission supporting the state-wide adoption of the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code.  If adopted, the code would require all new residential and commercial buildings to install materials and systems that decrease the buildings overall energy use through prescriptive or performance-based requirements.  A broad, cross-section of New Mexicans—including home owners, renters, architects, residential and commercial builders, building trade associations, electrical and mechanical contractors, building trade unions, advocates for the income-challenged, faith-based leaders, fixed-income retirees, environmental groups, energy consultants, affordable housing providers, and state employees—provided oral testimony at the State's public hearing on July 29, 2020, supporting the adoption of the code. Testimony noted that the code will reduce occupant utility bills, which is especially crucial for low income families that have a disproportionately high utility-cost burden. The new code would also provide a payback on the small increased upfront costs within a handful of years, reduce energy demand statewide, and help New Mexico reach our energy and climate change goals.

2020 The 2nd Hottest

Will 2020 Be the Earth's Hottest Year Recorded to Date?

If you have a pulse, you felt the heat wave was more intense than usual this past July.  Local environmental scientist, Steven Rudnick, Ph.D., recently weighed in on the urgency, "We are very much on track for the second hottest or even the hottest year on record unless a significant La Niña develops, which is possible."  Currently, 2016 is the hottest year on record with 2019 a close second (a whopping 0.07°F cooler).  The Southwest is the fastest heating region in the US, with average summer time temperatures up 2.4 °F over the past 50 years. Rising temperatures from climate change affect our health, food supply, and economic prosperity. Find out the many ways planting strategically makes a difference!  

urban heat

Urban Heat Islands

Although the world is warming, it’s even hotter in cities, which can be up to 10°C (that’s 18°F!) hotter than surrounding areas. Cities become warmer as the earth’s natural cooling systems—trees and vegetation—are replaced by buildings, asphalt, and concrete, which absorb the sun’s heat. Though the impacts of urban heat islands may seem far off to us in rural Santa Fe County, we’re feeling its effects here too. The Trust for Public Lands’ Urban Heat Island Severity Map shows more populated areas in Edgewood, Santa Fe, Pojoaque, and Española are warmer than nearby suburban and rural neighborhoods. The National Weather Service reports that extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, another important reason to mitigate the effects of urban heat islands in our communities. Learn ways you can cool your own environment in the section below.

Cooling with Shade

What Can I Do?: Keep Your Cool 

These practical and inexpensive options may help you stay cooler in your living environment. 

1) Close the windows and shades/curtains before the heat of the day and open them when the internal temperature is equal to the outside temperature in the evening.

2) Lime, earth and stone were the ancient thermal wisdom for the New Mexico climate; increase the insulation of your walls by using layers of insulating lime or hemp plaster to the interior or exterior walls.

3) Ditch the carpet and use floor fans to cool hard-surface floors.

4) Plant deciduous, low water shade trees on the south and west sides of your building.

5) Add awnings, trellis, and climbing vines for shade on the south and west side of your home.

6) Paint your roof a reflective white.

7) Use plants or wood mulch to cool the land; rock mulch for landscaping increases subsurface heat and dries out soil.

8) Use light colored gravel for your driveway.

9) Cluster outdoor plants as close to your home as possible (large containers also work well) to take advantage of transpiration which creates cooling micro-climates.

10) Incorporate the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern architectural techniques like using vessels filled with water near an open window or in a courtyard as a "cooling zone".

Let's plan for future hotter months now and have smarter conversations about the heat next year!  

Adapting to Today's Circumstances:

Get Involved and Support!

(Click on orange text below for associated links and information.)

SF Botanical Garden

Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Whether it's yoga with the roses, or learning to create a more resilient garden at home, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden has a number of activities to keep the love of nature and green thumb growing even during a pandemic!

Chainbreaker Collective

Chainbreaker Collective

Not everyone can afford a bike! Get involved to support emission-free transportation in our community and help others to do the same!

SFCC Trades and Technology

SFCC Green Technology Classes! 

Registration for an online class starts August 14; classes begin August 24.

Farm to Table Dining

Farm to Table Dining

Support local farmers and restaurants!  Dine patio style or take out.


Do You Like Teaching How to Repair Broken Items?

Sign up to volunteer as a virtual Fixit Coach!


STEM Santa Fe

Helps the youth in our community engage in science, technology, engineering, and math. Currently with more virtual programs that complement other learning options.

Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Claudia Borchert, 505.992.3044 

Jacqueline Beam, 505.992.9832

Adeline Murthy, 505.992.9862