City of Santa Fe’s Leadership in Sustainability
The City of Santa Fe is leading by example with actions to reduce adverse impacts on shared resources and increase community resilience.
The City has installed 4.2 MW of renewable energy generation at nine facilities, generating the amount of electricity that would be used by 702 homes per year. In 2021, the City completed construction of a combined heat and power facility at its wastewater treatment plant. Combined with the existing solar array, it will provide 94% of the power needed for the facility. A 2019 audit of facility energy and water use resulted in recommendations to install an additional 24 new solar photovoltaic arrays, adding 2.8 MW of renewable energy. The investment, combined with other facility improvements, will result in 20% less spent on utilities. The up-front cost will be returned within 15 years, resulting in savings beyond that time for the life of the arrays, projected to be 37 years. The work will begin in 2021-2022.
The City of Santa Fe has been participating in the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge since 2016, meaning it has pledged to improve energy efficiency in buildings by 20% over a ten year period. The City of Santa Fe has improved energy performance by 15% from a 2011 baseline in 30 buildings comprising 850,000 square feet. Implementing the additional improvements recommended by the energy and water audit will result in energy savings exceeding the 20% goal.
The 2019 facility audit recommended upgrading approximately 9,000 existing lighting fixtures to LED technology, upgrading approximately 760 water fixtures, installing 14 new high-efficiency transformers, remediation of existing air leakage, and installing two electric vehicle charging stations. The work will begin in 2021-2022.
All of the street lights in the city are being upgraded to more efficient LED bulbs in 2021. LED bulbs use half the energy of the metal halide bulbs being replaced, and they are designed to reduce light pollution, preserving the beauty of the Santa Fe night sky.
The Santa Fe Community Convention Center is a LEED Gold building. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s leading green building rating system. This certification means the building was designed and built using strategies that save water and energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and conserve natural resources.
"All of the street lights in the city are being upgraded to more efficient LED bulbs in 2021. LED bulbs use half the energy of the metal halide bulbs being replaced, and they are designed to reduce light pollution, preserving the beauty of the Santa Fe night sky."
The City’s transit system, Santa Fe Trails, has been fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) since 1992, making it the first all-CNG fleet in the nation. New CNG engines have almost no emissions and emit 20 times less nitrogen oxides than today’s diesel engines. Most of the City’s fleet of trash and recycling trucks run on CNG as well, and the fleet includes over 100 alternatively-fueled cars and pickup trucks such as electric, hybrid, and CNG-powered vehicles. Additional investments are being made in electric vehicles and charging stations in 2021.
The City of Santa Fe recycles in its offices, and plans are underway to expand participation. All debris from street maintenance operations is reused in new street maintenance operations. Waste material from wastewater treatment operations is combined with woody debris diverted from the landfill and composted. In 2020, pairs of recycling and solar-powered trash compacting bins were deployed in high-profile, high traffic locations such as Railyard Park.
In the early 1990s, the City began to require developed properties to manage runoff to drain into stormwater catchment basins, directing impervious surfaces toward them and allowing for infiltration of stormwater. In 2013, the Alameda Rain Gardens Program was created to work in partnership with non-profits such as Keep Santa Fe Beautiful, Youthworks, and the Santa Fe Watershed Association. The City has developed 15 sites on its properties that collectively infiltrate over two million gallons of stormwater per year. Berms and swales are being added to all parks to slow and capture stormwater and increase infiltration, supporting vegetation, and decreasing erosion.
The Parks Department is planning an intense reforestation strategy, including a paradigm shift from single tree plantings to grouped tree communities, to increase the urban tree canopy and replace many trees that have died due to pests and drought, and plans to tighten its water budget by reducing wasted water resources, utilizing the irrigation central controller master valve; and using accompanying software that can stop unforeseen leaks and flows, resulting in a 50% reduction in water use.
Senior centers are working to procure more locally grown food for the thousands of meals served monthly, whenever quantities are available and cost-effective.