April 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

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April 2021 Newsletter

Celebrating Mother Earth


Avo holding the earth
Earth Day

Earth Day 2021: Restoring and Rewilding 

Earth Day 2021, with the theme of restoration, is upon us this month. The 51st year of this celebration will be honored on April 22nd.

Given all that nature has done to see us through the challenges of a global pandemic, the County is starting a little earlier and stretching out the celebration for several weeks. Volunteer planting events featuring pollinators-friendly plants to entice more bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and drought tolerant trees for erosion control and shade, will be held in each of the five districts for five Saturdays in a row.

The first event will kick off on April 17th and continue each Saturday thereafter, through May 15th. These events will be Covid safe and therefore volunteers are asked to register online for a time slot. And check out the County's social media online video for announcements from each district Commissioner!

Event locations and times include:

1) Pojoaque Recreation Complex, Saturday, April 17: 9:00-5:00 p.m.

2) Santa Fe River, San Ysidro Crossing, Saturday, April 24: 9:00-5:00 p.m.

3) Hondo Fire Station, Saturday, May 1: 9:00-1:00 p.m.

4) Edgewood Senior Center, Saturday May 8: 9:00-5:00 p.m.

5) Max Coll Community Center, Saturday, May 15: 9:00-5:00 p.m.

Even if you can't make this event or a formal Earth Day celebration activity, remember that your backyard or whichever area you have available to plant and/or steward native pollinator-friendly plants and drought tolerant trees, is an option available to all of us and goes a long way in making a difference. Rewilding landscapes is a worldwide movement that serves to increase biodiversity and create habitats that are more resilient for all forms of life. Happy Earth Day and may we all find the joy and healthy solace that restored and thriving nature can bring to every minute of every day!  

SLDC 2021 Building Codes

New Building Codes

Promote Energy Conservation

It's official! Resolution 2021-02 which incorporates the latest 2018 IECC State requirements and energy efficiency improvements, was passed unanimously on March 9th by the Board of County Commissioners. The 2018 IECC went into effect on March 24, 2021 and the County resolution is effective on April 8, 2021. 

What does this mean for builders and homeowners? The highlights of the new code state that all residential buildings must comply with the Energy Rating Index (ERI) score of 61 in order to meet the same standards as the new State-adopted code, excluding modular homes and non-major remodels. All eligible commercial buildings will be required to meet the ASHRAE 90.1 standards. Be sure to check in with permitting to find out more information on this and check the Sustainability Solar and Energy Efficiency pages to find out the many ways builders and homeowners can easily meet the new ERI code rating and take further advantage of the recently passed, though pending the Governor's signature, Sustainable Buildings Tax Credit! Read on to find out more about this and many other exciting bills that passed in the 2021 New Mexico Legislation Session that support renewable energy and energy savings!


2021 New Mexico Legislative Session: Sustainability Outcomes

New Mexico’s 2021 Legislative Session wrapped up on March 20th. Despite the unusual circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 200 pieces of legislation passed both the House and Senate. A diversity of bills were discussed, including pandemic relief, broadband access, early childhood education, cannabis legalization, and wildlife trapping, to name of few. There were also several big wins for sustainability—bills that support a just transition and help New Mexico reach its climate goals.

One of the biggest wins was the successful passage of the Community Solar Act (SB84), which will increase access to solar and decrease its cost by allowing individuals, schools, and tribes to subscribe to offsite solar installations.

Another win was the passage of the Sustainable Buildings Tax Credit (HB15), which incentivizes the construction of highly efficient buildings and improving the energy efficiency of existing homes and buildings. This is significant because buildings are one of the leading sources of carbon emissions in the state and in Santa Fe County. In addition, the Sustainable Economy Task Force (SB112) passed both chambers, which will require state agencies to research and recommend ways in which New Mexico can diversify its economy away from a reliance on oil and gas.

However, many important bills did not pass, including the Climate Solutions Act (HB9), Clean Fuel Standard Act (SB11), Public Banking Act (HB236), Utility Affordability & Relief Act (HB206), Food, Hunger & Farm Act (HB207), and the Green Amendment (SJR3). These will likely be reintroduced in future sessions.

The bills that did pass now sit on Governor Lujan Grisham’s desk, who has until April 9th to act on the legislation. If you are passionate about any of these bills, urge the governor to sign them!

Straw bale compost system

What Can I Do?

Apply to the Sustainability Office's Backyard Composting Program!

Interested in a FREE home compost system? If so, the Sustainability Office has got you covered! Santa Fe County is partnering with Reunity Resources, a non-profit organization that specializes in environmental education and sustainable land stewardship, to install straw bale composting systems at a limited number of households in Santa Fe County. In addition to installing the system, Reunity Resources will provide tools, training, and an instructional guide, and the Santa Fe County Sustainability Office will provide on-going technical assistance. To participate, you must be a user of one of the County's solid waste convenience centers and have a valid bag tag or permit number. 

This program is designed save you money on permit punches and bag tags, and in turn it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in the Caja del Rio landfill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste and yard trimmings are 34% of the waste we generate. Compare that to glass, which is 4% of what we generate, and it is easy to see how big of an impact can be made by keeping these methane-generating materials out of the landfill.

Aside from helping residents save money on drop off fees, there are many benefits to composting. Compost enriches soil, helps plants grow, and helps retain soil moisture—even during droughts. Done right, a home compost system is simple, clean, and compact (no pests, no mess, no smell!).

Apply now to participate in this program. Download the application in English or Spanish, or access it through our website. All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on April 12, 2021. Contact Adeline Murthy at 505-992-9862 or amurthy@santafecountynm.gov if you would like to learn more about the program or need support with the application.

Our April Picks

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

Seed saving

Mini Seed Libraries Now Open!

Mini seed libraries, courtesy of the Santa Fe Seed Stewards Project, are now open across Santa Fe County and available throughout the month of April. Seeds are free, locally-adapted, and pick up is contactless. Learn more about how to become Seed Steward and where to pick up seeds here.


Santa Fe Watershed Association Celebrates a Week of Earth Days!

Check out the Watershed Association site for upcoming details on their ComuniTree program and sponsored daily activities to celebrate Earth Day 2021 in your community!

Monarch and gaillardia

Pollinator Month

NMSU's Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management Center is hosting a series of talks all about pollinators in New Mexico during the month of April. Talks will be Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 6 to April 22 at 3 pm MT. Tune in here!

Great American Cleanup

Great American Cleanup

Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup is happening this spring in communities throughout the United States. Stay tuned to the Santa Fe County Events on Facebook for details on a free drop off trash day on April 17th to honor this event for all Santa Fe County residents with proof of permits and bag tags! 

Mountain mahogany

Earth Day:

Santa Fe County

Celebrates for 5 Saturdays in a Row

Would you like to help Santa Fe County plant native trees and pollinator-friendly plants in celebration of Earth Day? April planting events will be held at the Pojoaque Recreation Complex on April 17th and at the Santa Fe River San Ysidro Crossing on April 24th. Sign up to volunteer for these or the other three events in May here!

Santa Fe River reservoir

Take the City of Santa Fe Water Pledge!

Are you a resident of the City of Santa Fe? If so, take the water pledge any time during the month of April!

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