January 2022 Sustainability Newsletter

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January 2022 Newsletter

Wishing all a wonderful new year!



Avo holding the earth

Three SO Musketeers

Achievements: A 2021 Recap!

The past year has brought new challenges, changes, and growth in Santa Fe County and nationwide. Yet, much was achieved despite it all! The ongoing pandemic and effects of climate change underscore the importance of building more resilient and sustainable communities than ever before-- it seems with each "ol lang syne." In this month’s newsletter, we reflect on the progress made in 2021 and look optimistically toward the new year. Below we highlight just a few key steps taken in 2021 to create a more resilient and sustainable future for our community and future generations:

  • 30x30 conservation and greening up of facilities: With the help of numerous volunteers throughout the County, over 1,400 native and drought tolerant trees and plants found a new home at County facilities and vital open spaces last spring during the Earth Day 2021: Restore Our Earth celebrations and Open Space, Trails, and Parks events.
  • 2018 IECC Building Code adoption: At the start of last year, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) unanimously passed an energy efficiency building code ordinance in the Sustainable Land Development Code that replaced outdated codes from 2009 with 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards, and successfully aligned construction requirements with the State. As a result, local buildings will be more efficient and resilient in the face of climate change.  
  • Expansion of renewable energy: The County installed solar at the Rancho Viejo Fire Station in March and the Public Safety complex in August. This brings the County to a total of 19 solarized facilities, which collectively generate 3 million kilowatt hours of energy each year.
  • Fleet efficiency: Throughout 2021, the County implemented the Fleet Management Policies and Procedures to improve the efficiency of the County's fleet and reduce vehicle emissions. Through the efforts of the Vehicle Utilization Review Board (VURB), the County is creating a motor pool and transitioning to an all-electric fleet, beginning with plug-in hybrids, which will allow fleet staff to get trained on how to service battery electric motors and enable the County to continue to build out its electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
  • Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure:  In June, a new public EV charging station was installed at the Solana Center. This station is part of a growing network of more than 100 charging stations in the County, which serves to prepare for the transition to electrified transportation.
  • Building performance upgrades approved and implemented for 13 facilities: A major energy efficiency and water conservation overhaul was approved mid-year, beginning with water conservation installations in November, which will save 2.1 million gallons of water in County operations annually. The project will continue to reduce CO2 emissions throughout 2022 by approximately 900,000 pounds per year through building envelope improvements, LED lighting, and high efficiency HVACs, and transformers.
  • Participation in the Race to Zero: In April, the County joined the Race to Zero, pledging to reduce 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from County facilities by 2025, much of which will be achieved through the County's participation in the Solar Direct Program. By 2030, the same reduction is pledged for all buildings county-wide, making the County-supported passage of Community Solar in 2021 an important lever for emission reductions that are in alignment with the Race to Zero pledge and Paris Agreement goal of net zero emissions by 2050.  
  • Water conservation awareness and education: In a joint effort with the City and Save Water Santa Fe, staff worked throughout the year to promote water conservation through sharing water management data and resources via public advertisements, radio, social media, educational pamphlets, and monthly meetings.  
  • Continuation of climate action planning: The County published an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from its operations in June, and is finalizing a greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan. This inventory and the plan, to be released in the beginning of the coming year, will inform next steps in meeting emission reduction targets operationally and county-wide.
  • Formation of a new Community Development Department:  The Sustainability Office joined the County's new Community Development Department in one of the bigger reorganizations to take place mid-year. The new department is comprised of the Economic Development, Affordable Housing, Tourism, Film, and Sustainability Divisions. This reorganization increases the Sustainability Office's capacity to implement sustainability and resiliency programs across the community, while continuing to promote sustainable practices interdepartmentally within County operations.

As always, there is more work to be done. We look forward to engaging with community members to build on these achievements in 2022!


What to Watch for in 2022

The next year presents a tremendous opportunity for advancements in sustainability. At the local level, expect to see Santa Fe County continue to take steps toward meeting its goal of net zero emissions from County operations. The Sustainability Office will kick off the new year by presenting the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan to the Board of County Commissioners. This document will provide a comprehensive plan for the County to achieve its operational emission reduction goals. Staff will also be developing a community-wide climate action plan in the months to follow.

Implementation of energy efficiency tracking for all facilities is to begin in January and will inform  efficiency upgrade strategies and decisions. The County will soon be purchasing electricity through the PNM Solar Direct Program from a newly constructed utility-scale solar array on the Jicarilla Apache Nation. This will power half of the electricity County facilities receive from PNM with clean, renewable energy. In addition, ground-breaking is expected to begin on the new Cerrillos Senior Center and Fire Station by mid-year, which will include sustainable features such as energy efficiency, solar, and EV charging stations. As a result of the newly formed Community Development Department, sustainability in economic development and agriculture will be featured in the County's 2022 Economic Development Plan. More progress is also on the rise in storm water management, green infrastructure, shade, and pollination, as the County continues to commit to conservation through an expanded community planting and beautification volunteer program, and the 30x30 initiative.

At the state level, keep an eye out for sustainability measures introduced in the 2022 legislative session beginning on January 18th. Click here to view the County’s state legislative priorities for sustainability and climate action. Look for rules to be in place this April implementing the Community Solar Act, which was passed during the 2021 legislative session. The Act will allow utility customers to subscribe to receive a portion of their energy from a solar array and reserves 30% of energy produced by community solar projects for low-income customers. The launch of community solar in New Mexico is expected to increase access to affordable solar, particularly among renters and homeowners who are unable to install residential solar panels.

Lastly, expect to see new federal funding for EV charging, public transportation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy transmission through the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Click here to view funding estimates for New Mexico.


Green New Year's Resolution

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The start of a new year is an excellent time to set green goals for yourself. We invite you to join in our efforts in creating a more sustainable Santa Fe by resolving to reduce, reuse, and recycle in 2022!

Americans generate about 5 pounds of trash per person per day. Reducing the waste we create can have both environmental and economic benefits. Below are just a few easy green habits you can build in the new year.

  1.  Give experiences and shop local: Think about new ways to give gifts that are easier on the planet while supporting local artisans and trade. What about a curated mountain top picnic or poem workshop? You might be surprised to find how experiences and creative local gifts give back in ways that items manufactured from afar simply can't. 
  2. Track what you throw: Learn about your current habits by conducting a personal waste inventory. Keep track of what you throw away, compost, and recycle over the course of a week. At the end of the week, review your list and identify areas to target for reduction.
  3. Plan waste free meals: Are single use sandwich bags, coffee cups, and plastic bottles making up the bulk of your waste? Opt for more sustainable options by replacing sandwich bags with washable containers and using a reusable travel mug or water bottle.
  4. Keep reusable bags handy: Reusable bags can provide an eco-friendly alternative to paper and plastic single use bags, if used regularly. Try keeping reusable bags in your car, near your bike, or by the door so you remember to take them with you. Look for ways to reuse any single use bags you do acquire.
  5. Cut down on food waste: Food waste poses significant environmental, social, and economic impacts. Nationally, food waste made up nearly a quarter of the municipal solid waste sent to landfills in 2018. Food and other organic materials produce harmful greenhouse emissions while decomposing in landfills. Wasted food also wastes the water, energy, labor, and other resources that went into its production. Try reducing food waste by checking your kitchen for ingredients before you shop, planning meals in advance, and keeping a list on your refrigerator to remind yourself of the items you need to prepare. Reduce your carbon footprint by composting, rather than landfilling, food you need to dispose of.
  6. Recycle Right: Whether you have curbside recycling or drop off items at County Convenience Centers, make sure you are recycling right! Contamination of recycling can damage equipment and cause materials to be sent to the landfill. Recyclables should be clean, loose, and dry. Be sure to rinse residue from materials. Do not bag recyclables (except for shredded paper, which can be placed in a clear bag). Items accepted in mixed recycling include cardboard, aluminum cans, paper, and steel/tin cans. Plastic shopping bags, paper coffee cups (which are lined with plastic), and bubble wrap are among the items that are not accepted in mixed recycling. Glass can be dropped off in a separate container at Convenience Centers. Visit the Sustainability Office website for a complete list of items that can be recycled at Convenience Centers and for locations that will accept hard to recycle materials.  

Thanks for all you do to help Santa Fe become more sustainable and happy 2022!


Our January Picks

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

Seed Partnership

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Native Plant Materials Development with Successful Habitat Restoration

January 12-13

10:00 AM- 5:00 PM

Learn about native seed partnerships and collaboratives during this virtual conference hosted by the Willamette Valley Native Plant Partnership and Southwest Seed Partnership coordinated by the Institute for Applied Ecology.

Burrowing Owl


Visit the Zooniverse website this winter to contribute to important conservation research from the comfort of your home!


Bees at Home: The Natural History of Bumble Bee Nesting

January 13

11:00 AM- 12:00 PM

Join the Xerces Society for a webinar about bumble bee nesting biology and learn what you can do to help these important pollinators.


Santa Fe Farmer and Artisan Market

Saturdays & Sundays

The weather may be cooling down, but the markets at the Railyard are still in full swing. Drop by on Saturdays for local food and Sundays to support artisans in our community.

State legislative session

Start of the New Mexico 2022 Legislative Session

January 18

Track key sustainability legislation and share your ideas during the state legislative session.


Tree Recycling

December 26- January 23, 2022

Drop off your holiday tree free of charge at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station. Trees must be free of all lights, ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations.

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, jybeam@santafecountynm.gov

Adeline Murthy, amurthy@santafecountynm.gov

Caitlin Weber, cweber@santafecountynm.gov