December 2020 Sustainability Newsletter

View as a webpage / Share


December 2020 Newsletter

Looking Back--And Forward Ho!


Avo holding the earth
Looking Back Moving Forward

It's a Wrap: Looking Back to Giving Back in 2020 and Here We Come 2021!

Along with the rest of the world, many of our 2020 plans and projects were put on hold, reduced in budget or stymied by a relentless virus called Covid-19. Yet, despite the trials and travails, as this year comes to an end, it is important to look back at the successes over the past twelve months in giving back to protect our beautiful planet and community, as well as take time to reflect upon accomplishments despite the hardship. Our Sustainability Team is happy to report that the County can boast about quite a few achievements this year! By no means all inclusive, these are just a few highlights:

  • The Sustainability Office website pages were updated to include even more important resources and information for constituents.
  • The County completed its first greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the years 2005, 2017, and 2018. The soon-to-be published report will guide the County in planning emission reductions necessary to meet the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero emissions in County operations by 2050.
  • Solar panels were installed at four County facilities: Eldorado Senior Center, Agua Fria Fire Station, the County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, and La Cienega Fire Station on Rancho Viejo Blvd. These solar systems, totaling 151 kW DC, will produce approximately 268,000 kWh of electricity each year, equivalent to the amount of carbon sequestered by 247 acres of U.S. forests in one year.
  • With so many hitting the trails this year, Nature & Land benefited through the addition of trail QR code informational stickers and the Greenway addition to the Santa Fe River Trail.
  • The new AgriGate of Santa Fe County was launched this year, creating a network of food producers and buyers.
  • Energy efficiency was celebrated at the Energy Efficiency Star Awards in which seven organizations in Santa Fe County were awarded for saving a total of 1.6 GWh in their combined projects through energy efficiency choices. This is equivalent to removing 882 metric tons of CO2 from the air, enough energy to power 239 homes for an entire year.
  • Energy efficiency was further addressed by way of County facility upgrades. Both the Fleet Facility upgrade and the major remodel of 102 Grant Ave will result in electricity savings of 200,000 kWh each year.
  • The County conducted its first Investment Grade Audit in 14 facilities to analyze potential energy and cost savings associated with energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits.
  • The County built two new EV charging stations, both at the County Administration Building in downtown Santa Fe. A third EV charging station at the Solana Center is in the pipeline.
  • Santa Fe County residents recycled 1,488 tons of waste, nearly 200 tons more than in 2019.
  • As part of our Education & Outreach program, the Sustainability Team responded to hundreds of calls and questions from constituents about topics ranging from waste reduction, to renewable energy, and water conservation.
  • In addition, County residents received the latest news in sustainability through this Sustainability Newsletter, the reader rate of which almost doubled this past year (to 4,000 and counting!).
  • In February, the County participated in the 2020 SFPS Innovation Expo event.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the County's Community Services Department worked tirelessly through this pandemic on the social pillar of sustainability by connecting those in need through the CONNECT program.

Legislation and Policy

Legislation & Policy: Triple Bottom Line Issues the County Supported in 2020 and Upcoming 2021 NM Bills

The County was proud to support 2020 resolutions that bolster our community in Climate Action, Protection of Public Lands, the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund Drive, Protection and Promotion of Pollinator Corridors, as well as Civil Rights, Racial and Social Justice and Reducing Disparities in Health Care and Public Safety. Actions to look forward to in the State Capitol as it enjoys a longer NM legislative period this coming year are numerous. There are many exciting bills that have been proposed that support a healthier environment and community for New Mexicans. Look for Community Solar and the Local Choice Energy Act which have the potential to provide for more equitable distribution and access to solar and renewable energy for NM neighborhoods. The Electric Vehicle Tax Credit is expected to be reintroduced, as well as many proposed amendments such as the Green Amendment.  Be sure to let your representatives know about your support for the policies and legislation that will make a healthy difference for you and your family, and our home, the planet, in 2021! 

Youth Climate Action

Community Youth & Educational Programs: The Gifts that Keep Giving

As we tackle the huge and urgent task of climate action in 2021, we wanted to know which organizations throughout the county are excited about youth and students embarking upon learning more ways to be good stewards of our planet, in the coming year. So we asked! These initiatives provide the hope and pride in our future generation of climate warriors that we can all support! 

Santa Fe Public Schools: We have many exciting programs for 2021; one of them that I am really looking forward to this coming year is definitely the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, because we are working with both county and city on connectivity planning and infrastructure opportunities so that more students can have safe and easier access to walk to school. Plus it hits so many sustainability goals with improved health for children, congestion mitigation and outdoor air quality improvements. -Elena Kayak, Sustainability Program Specialist, SFPS

The Climate Change Leadership Institute: One of our on-going initiatives, the Healthy Soil Program, involves supporting local farmers and ranchers towards regenerative agriculture. This also involves educating the public on why regenerative agriculture is so important. Developing curriculum for students locally to learn about the five healthy soil principles and why they are integral to our health and well being is one of the steps young people can collaborate with us on. Learn the five healthy soil principles, come up with a curriculum idea for one of or each of the 5 principles and email your curriculum idea(s) to us at We'll together try to integrate your excellent curriculum ideas into our local schools. -Robb Hirsch, Executive Director, CCLI

Santa Fe Community College: Living in the high desert, it's so important to be very proactive with water savings. SFCC has had a great partnership with the City and Green Chamber of Commerce in the last few years creating a restaurant water audit class and program. And I'm hoping we can start an energy auditor training for people to assess energy use in small businesses throughout the County, which will not only help with energy savings for local businesses but also enable people to learn new job skills. -Amanda Hatherly, EnergySmart Academy, SFCC

Living Christmas Tree

What Can I Do? Give Back to the Cycle of Life!

No matter how you choose to celebrate in December, giving back to the cycle of life through trees is always a good gift! The Arbor Day Foundation offers ways to plant a tree to remember loved ones and celebrate friends and family. This year, given the limited ways we can celebrate, and increased financial concerns, it certainly seems to be a great opportunity to make a shift and become a part of the solution. Ideas and recipes for minimizing the waste stream in your gift giving and celebration choices is detailed by the Center for Biological Diversity in their the waste prevention campaign Simplify the Holidays and tool SoKind Alternative Gift Registry. A simple question for everyone to ask is: Does the planet really need to provide its natural resources to create another item collecting dust on the shelf, or would a living impactful and creative legacy do more good instead? Get in touch with us at to let us know how you have modified your celebrations this year with a cleaner environment in mind, and/or the greener choices you have made despite (or due to) the challenges of Covid!

Hey! Wow! What a year! We just want to make sure to acknowledge how challenging it was, and wish you the very best of happy endings for 2020. We especially want to say thank you for your resiliency and all that you have done this year and continue to do to give back!

It truly matters!  -The Santa Fe County Sustainability Office

Our December Picks

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


Energy Efficiency and Climate Policy Forum

Thurs, Dec. 3, 8:30 a.m.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) presents a one day event on policies that will help reduce emissions by 50%.

Register here.

Congreso Acequias

Congreso De Las Acequias 2020

Sat, Dec. 12, 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Join the virtual annual gathering of acequias and supporters. The theme this year is Unidos Con Fuerza: Acequias Rising To Meet The Challenges Of Our Time.

Register here.


Climate Crisis Policy

A Climate Convergence: United for Victory in 2021

Wed-Thurs, Dec. 9-10, 6:00 p.m.

Speakers and presentations. National climate movement structure and legislative plans for 2021.

Register here.


Regenerative Agriculture: 2021 Legislative Session Survey 

NM Healthy Soil Working Group is seeking input for a possible regenerative agriculture memorial in the 2021 legislative session. Help shape New Mexico agricultural policy by filling out this survey.

350 Santa Fe

350 Santa Fe

Sat, Dec. 12, 10:00-11:45

Monthly Meeting

Accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

Register here.

All We Can Save

Virtual Conversation About a New Anthology: "All We Can Save" 

Thurs, Dec. 3, 6:00 p.m. 

Join the public radio show Living on Earth and the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston for a virtual conversation with contributors of All We Can Save, a new anthology featuring the work of diverse women leading on climate action in the United States.

Register here.

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. 


Jacqueline Beam, 505.992.9832

Adeline Murthy, 505.992.9862