By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photo provided by http://www.cpexecutive.com
Sustainability has become the new standard for CNM’s building and renovation projects, and those goals were achieved and even surpassed in the renovations to the school’s Advanced Technology Center, which just received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification, said Executive Director of the Physical Plant Luis Campos.
The certification, which is given out by the U.S. Green Building Council, was awarded based on a checklist of efficiency and sustainability standards, and the renovation scored even higher than the team thought it would, Campos said.
“We signed the President’s climate commitment in 2008, and in that we made the commitment that CNM would reduce its carbon footprint. And as part of that goal, we have to build more efficient buildings, and that’s why we are going after these certifications to really demonstrate our commitment to sustainability,” Campos said.
As part of this larger commitment, every new building or renovation will be planned out using the same checklist, which includes lower water and power consumption, less dangerous waste, and recycled building materials, Campos said.
The project cost $4.5 million, but Campos said that the green initiatives did not cost much extra to implement, and will actually save the school money in the long run.
“It doesn’t really cost us any more to do this. What it really means is that we have to prioritize things a little differently, but the end results are that you build a more efficient building. So over the long haul, we end up saving money,” Campos said.
Using low-flow toilets, motion sensing faucets, drought tolerant landscaping and smart irrigation should help the building use 38 percent less water than a traditional building, and over 85 percent of construction waste materials were able to be recycled or re-purposed, which totaled over 1000 tons of material that would normally be sent to landfills, he said.
Most of the new equipment is Energy Star qualified, and many efforts were implemented to save power, by using efficient light bulbs, timers, and large windows to take advantage of natural lighting, he said.
The building also has a two-year contract to get much of its electricity from renewable energy sources, he said.
These and other efforts are already saving the school money, through rebates from PNM and the New Mexico Gas Company for using efficient equipment, he said.
The Advanced Technology Center, which used to be a Motorola factory, originally opened in 2011, and the new space is home to classrooms and labs for many trade programs, including Aviation Maintenance, Construction, as well as Film Studio and Editing classes.
There are more plans to make every building on every campus as sustainable as possible, including adding solar panels to the roofs of four buildings, Campos said.
The panels will be installed at Rio Rancho and West Side campuses, at the Workforce Training Center, and Ken Chappy Hall at Main campus, he said.
Estimates are that in nine years, the panels will pay for themselves, and then begin generating free electricity for these buildings, he said.
Campos and his team are still gathering and calculating data on the larger savings of all of the other efficiency additions, he said.
Campos said that all of these efforts are part of a bigger plan for the school that puts sustainability in the forefront.
“When you talk about sustainability, you don’t really just talk about buildings and recycling. You need to talk about sustainability in the big, general picture of how you educate students on those practices,” Campos said.
Campos is working with other faculty and staff to implement new curriculum to many classes that will include educating students on the importance of sustainability at school and in their everyday lives.
Campos said he hopes to help create a culture at CNM where everything done, from the classroom to the buildings to students’ daily lives, has sustainability at its core, where the principles of sustainable living have become a natural, automatic part of the way the school does business.
“Students have the greatest ability to make change in this world. When you think about community colleges and universities, with all the student populations that we have, we really have the ability to make a great impact on society. And what better way to do that than teaching a sustainable approach,” Campos said.
Campos said that the biggest challenge in creating this culture is increasing the awareness of sustainability issues among students, and he feels that the collaboration with instructors will help to teach students these values, and get them engaged and involved in making it happen.
“Students are our future workforce, so by educating them now you actually have the opportunity to change the world. They are going to own the planet at some point, so why not teach them now?” Campos said.