Central New Mexico at dusk
The flight from Denver to Albuquerque is not long, but the change is dramatic. The Albuquerque SunPort feels so far away. The geography changes, from mountains and trees, to rose-colored desert. While Santa Fe is the capitol, Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico with a population of 555,417, just more than a quarter of the state’s total population of 2,085,538.
It’s a beautiful state, “the land of enchantment,” from deserts to mesas and snow-capped peaks. New Mexico’s population is the 6th least densely populated in the U.S. It has the highest percentage of Hispanics (46%), and the second highest percentage of Native Americans, after Alaska. The Rio Grande cuts through Albuquerque.
Central New Mexico Community College – the largest post-secondary academic institution in New Mexico — has retained EcoMotion to begin a strategic process toward comprehensive sustainability on campus. The first phase of the project involves an assessment of CNM’s STARS level, and a gap analysis to determine next steps to raise the level to the next STARS certification.
A hot-air balloon flies by campus
CNM is an extraordinary college, growing and with seven campuses and 30,000 students. Students are ushered into an academic path and then guided through the process as needed by CNM Connect, the “center for student success,” a visible and central counseling/guidance function. Closely related, the CNM Foundation provides financial support, right down to helping an individual student make a car payment, breaking through barriers that would otherwise keep young men and women out of schools and professions.
CNM was reformed from the Albuquerque Vocational Technical Institute administered by the Albuquerque Public Schools to Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) in 2006. By 2009, it surpassed the University of New Mexico in size, adjacent to the CNM Main Campus. All of its new buildings are LEED Silver or better. The Rio Rancho campus is air conditioned using ground-source heat pumps.
Today, CNM offers 47 associate degrees and 52 certifications in business, health, and other technical fields. It boasts high classroom utilization rates (students/square foot), and its new buildings, a high facility condition index, a measure of the value of the facility versus its maintenance costs.
Students in the baking program
STARS is the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System developed for college campuses, what LEED is to the building design community. Thus far, EcoMotion has reviewed all pertinent documentation of campus sustainability activities, and has conducted a site visit in Albuquerque. During the site visit, EcoMotion staff visited five of the seven campuses (including ceramics, aviation, baking, cooking, restaurant, truck driving, nursing learning centers), interviewed more than a dozen stakeholders – from facilities to the president’s office – as well as students on campus in impromptu queries. EcoMotion’s assessment will guide next steps in greening the campus, providing a strategic plan for continual improvement in sustainability and cost savings, as well as deserved recognition.