TOME — On Saturday, Nov. 16, Environment New Mexico brought community members together with an event held at the UNM-Valencia campus called “Celebrating Sustainability.” The event featured several guest speakers who presented on both local and statewide successes in sustainability, and shared plans for the future.

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Rick Goshorn, director of business operations at the Valencia Campus, reported an annual savings in utility costs. The campus currently receives 18 percent of its energy from on site solar panels, which translates to about $180,000 in savings thus far. Goshorn has plans for two more phases of the solar project, which will ultimately cover 65 percent of the university’s energy needs.

Allison Martin, educational manager for the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, presented with Lindsey Diaz, from East Valencia Urban Gardens, about their work with sustainability education. They focus on teaching how we can be stewards of the land, specifically through hands-on experiences at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. Whitfield will be celebrating its 10th birthday on Dec. 14.

Arcelia Isais-Gastelum, Environment New Mexico fellow, gave insight into New Mexico’s trend towards renewable energy. She said solar panels and wind turbines have decreased by 88 percent and 69 percent in price, respectively, which makes them more affordable than traditional fossil fuels.

Isais-Gastelum also noted that renewable energy provides huge opportunities for job growth. Between 2012 and 2017, national solar employment grew 110 percent, nine times that of the U.S. economy. Reducing the amount of harmful chemicals released into the air benefits our health and reduces the risk of cardiac and respiratory illnesses, demonstrating that a switch to renewables benefits the planet and people alike, she said.

Environment New Mexico is a citizen-based environmental advocacy project of Environment America.

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