August 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

View as a webpage / Share


August 2021 Newsletter

Resiliency Goes Better With the Hard Facts!


Avo holding the earth
Emissions by sector

Data-Driven Climate Action 

Santa Fe County is committed to climate action. In 2017, Santa Fe County Commissioners adopted Resolution 2017-68, affirming its commitment to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. To make informed decisions on how to reach that goal, the County developed GHG inventories of the County’s operations for the years 2005, 2017 and 2018 across several operational sectors, including buildings and facilities, fleet, water and wastewater treatment, and solid waste management.

The Sustainability Office is thrilled to launch the final report of these inventories. Read the full inventory report or check out the summary infographic.

From 2005 to 2018, emissions from County operations decreased by 97%. The dramatic reduction in GHG emissions was due to the development of a methane gas collection and flaring system at the Caja Del Rio landfill.

  • County buildings and facilities are now the greatest contributor to County emissions, producing 55% of GHG emissions in 2018.
  • 1.6 MW of solar has been installed to help offset emissions from buildings and facilities.

These are impressive accomplishments, but there is still much more work to do to reach net zero!

These GHG emissions inventories are the first step toward preparing a comprehensive action plan to further reduce emissions and increase resilience in the face of climate change. In the next phase of this project, the County will specify high impact strategies within each sector to achieve emission reduction targets that are in alignment with the Paris Agreement. A comprehensive GHG reduction plan by sector in five year increments will be made available to the public and implemented by the County in mid-2021. Progress will then be assessed every five years to ensure the County remains on track to meet the net-zero goal by 2050.

At the beginning of this fiscal year, Sustainability staff began working on a community-wide GHG emissions inventory in partnership with ICLEI USA. This will set the foundation for a community-wide climate action plan. Stay tuned!

Bennie Chavez Senior Center

Kicking Off the New Fiscal Year with Facility Energy Efficiency as a Focus!

The County set out in 2019 to analyze the energy efficiency performance of fourteen facility buildings with the help of the Energy Service Company (ESCO), Yearout Energy. 

After a year-long process, the final report and guaranteed savings proposal and utility costs to be saved were certified through EMNRD and released at the end of 2020. As a result of the report and analysis, it was determined that of the fourteen facilities, thirteen are to be retrofitted and upgraded for energy efficiency. This plan is in alignment with the greenhouse gas emission first phase reduction goals of the County's operational greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Upgrades will include LED lighting, envelope sealing, and water saving features for all of the buildings. Some on the list will receive new, more efficient HVAC and transformer systems, and/or solar arrays also. In just a couple of months, it is going to be a busy time for these facilities and the facility managers and project managers coordinating the crews and equipment installation work, but well worth the effort. Annual utility savings are expected to be over $100,000 and GHG reduction projections show these figures to be the equivalent of 109 acres of trees planted or 520,590 miles not driven, and 2.1 M gallons of water will be saved each year.

The facilities to receive improvements include:

  1. Adult Detention Facility
  2. Agua Fria Fire Station #1
  3. Bennie Chavez Community Center
  4. Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe del Norte
  5. Edgewood Fire Station #1
  6. Eldorado Community Center (Ken & Patty Adams/Max Coll Corridor)
  7. Hondo Fire Station #2
  8. La Cienega Community Center
  9. La Cienega Fire Station (Rancho Viejo)
  10. Pojoaque Fire Station #1
  11. Public Safety Building
  12. State Health Center
  13. Vista Grande Library

In keeping with the goals of 50% + reduction for operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, the Sustainability Office will continue this strategic process of assessing facilities that are showing to be the highest energy users through utility billing. Those facilities deemed likely the best candidates for energy efficiency upgrades will be added to the energy efficiency upgrade list each year until the emission reduction goals are met.  

Stay tuned on progress through the Green Leaders section of the Sustainability Office's County website page! 

Regenerative Agriculture

What Can I Do?

Adapt through Regenerative and Closed Loop Approaches! 

As climate changes, adaptation in a number of areas is increasingly important and required. Throughout the world, it is recognized that the techniques used in agriculture for the past century—tilling, fertilizers and large scale monocrops—have resulted in depleted soils and food lacking in nutrients, as well as served to increase global temperatures. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are reported by OECD to be "17% directly through agricultural activities and 7-14% through land use changes."  More holistic land management and reduction of transportation needs encouraged through Regenerative Permaculture principles, not only sustain a diversity of plant life, they also provide the foundation and mapping for healthy soil and therefore, greenhouse gas sequestration, and more nutrient dense food and healthier livestock. The interdependent connection of each energy use and production step within the network is designed with intention to foster supportive, interdependent systems that benefit the whole.

In New Mexico's arid, extreme heat and monsoon, cold winter cycling environment, aquaponics and closed loop systems provide a great alternative to open air farming. Easy to set up in your home as a sun room or greenhouse, these closed loop systems provide symbiotic relationships for water, plants and nutrients. This type of growing system saves up to 90% of precious water that would typically evaporate and reduces transportation required to bring produce to markets. If you eat meat, the process offers the option and added benefits of healthy fish protein which can be harvested to supplement the diet, waste from which is also used to provide natural and organic fertilizers to the plants in the interdependent, closed loop, circular, life-cycle to harvest path.  A greenhouse or structure enclosing the crops provides shelter from wind and pests and a welcome ever green space to escape to during all seasons! 

Accessing the equipment and knowledge needed to set up a regenerative management system doesn't have to be costly. Check out the resources available at the Santa Fe Community College, or online, to build your very own aquaponics room and keep more of your shopping for veggies and fish, literally, within walking distance from your kitchen table!

Our August Picks

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

Urban Ecologies

Urban Ecologies

Through September 22, 2021

The Railyard Park Conservancy serves up an outdoor eco-art exhibition and offers a welcome stroll through the gallery of nature and art at the Park!

Eldorado Reuse Center

Reopening of Eldorado Reuse Center


August 25, 3:30 p.m.

After an extended closure due to Covid, the Eldorado Reuse Center is reopening! A big thanks to Eldorado/285 Recycles for spearheading the reopening and volunteering to maintain the center. Learn more about the Eldorado Reuse Center here

OSE logo

NM State 50 Year Water Plan Webinars

Aug. 3-Sept. 1

Join a number of experts on topics ranging from Ecological Dynamics to Resiliency Assessments in this month long series of webinars!

Register here.

Clearing the Air

Clearing the Air: Digital Conversation Series

Monday, August 30, 1-2 p.m.

Making Sense of Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Energy Development in New Mexico. A four-part virtual conversation series airing once per month. Tune in here.

SF Botanical Garden

Vegetative Management in the River Corridor

August 28, 9:30-11:00 

Athena Beshur, award winning designer and principal urban forestry designer at Seeds of Wisdom, gives a tour and talk on how to responsibly manage vegetation on the Santa Fe River.

IAIA Exposure

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

August 20-Jan 23, 2022

Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology exhibit shows how nuclear weapons affect Native populations.

FREE through August!

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