The University of New Mexico is working toward becoming a greener campus.
The University has been increasing its renewable energy resource every year by adding solar panels. UNM has also been reducing the amount of water used in campus upkeep, according to Mary Clark, the sustainability manager for the Sustainability Studies Program at UNM.
“The Sustainability Studies Program utilizes experiential learning, research and service activities to implement practical solutions for a sustainable future on the UNM campus, in the state of New Mexico and for the Earth as a whole,” according to the program’s website.
Over the past 15 years, UNM has been reducing its carbon footprint by utilizing green building requirements and new technologies that make the campus more sustainable. Additionally, the sustainability program reports an increase in recycling, Clark said.
UNM has solar panels installed on the roofs of the Yale parking structure, the Science and Math Learning Center, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building and the College of Education, Clark said.
Every year the University adds new installations of solar panels on top of buildings, which reduces the amount of non-renewable energy needed to power the campus, Clark said. As funds become available, more of these will be installed so that UNM no longer has to rely on the Public Service Company of New Mexico for electricity.
According to the 2017 Daily Lobo article, How green is my campus? UNM was working on adding more solar panels, including the ones that are now installed at the UNM Valencia Campus. At the time UNM was working to add more recycling bins around campus to make recycling a more accessible. Now, in 2018, more recycling bins have been added and will continue to be added around campus.
Clark said students can easily participate in recycling and reduce their carbon footprint.
UNM recycles paper, aluminum cans and cardboard, which keeps tons of recyclable materials out of landfills, she said.
“UNM has an aggressive building conservation program which has reduced energy usage across campus by 26 percent since 2010,” Clark said. “As required by state mandate, UNM builds and remodels buildings according to (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Standards. UNM’s utilities distribution system relies on cogeneration to create both steam and electricity, which has been proven to be more energy efficient that other systems.”
In 2008 UNM experienced extensive budget cuts that have since slowed down the University’s projects to reduce the campus carbon footprint, she said.
Despite this, she said, UNM will continue to add solar panels, recycle and work to create green and sustainable buildings.
The Sustainability Studies Program is just one of the initiatives on campus to make UNM greener.
The Physical Plant Department maintains the buildings and grounds at UNM. Like the sustainability program, PPD seeks to improve the campus and increase sustainability, according to their website.
UNM also has several student initiatives to make the campus greener. Lobo Gardens is currently working on several projects, said Christina Hoberg, the Lobo Gardens coordinator.
Lobo Gardens currently has two gardens on campus, Lobo RED and the herb garden at Hokona Hall. Pollinator gardens, are also being added to the gardens — these gardens will give bees, moths, butterflies and bats a place to find nectar, she said.
Lobo Gardens is also helping Zimmerman Library create a composting program. The compost can then be used for the gardens, Hoberg said.
Lobo Gardens will continue to work to create a UNM campus that is greener and more sustainable, she said.
In light of New Mexico’s drought, Clark said UNM is working to reduce water usage. UNM is reducing the amount of grass that needs to be watered and water faucets with an automatic shut off have been installed, she said.
Additionally, two years ago UNM was able to start pumping water waste to be used at the North Golf Course, which was possible with the help of the Bernalillo County Commission, Clark said. UNM is also asking the campus community to be conscious about their own water usage.
Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.