Eco Station ribbon cutting draws a crowd

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By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos County came one step closer to its goal of becoming green Wednesday.

County and state officials gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the new Eco Station, located at 3701 East Jemez Road.

The Eco Station is being billed as New Mexico’s first solar powered, green built solid waste transfer station and recycling center.

Regina Wheeler, who heads up the county’s new Environmental Sustainability Initiative said turnout was good, with about 100 people attending the ceremony.

Secretary Ron Curry of the New Mexico Environment Department, Matt Miller from Rep. Tom Udall’s office and members from the Environmental Sustainability Board, county councilors, the Secretary of the Environment, Mineral and Natural Resources Department, in addition to the New Mexico Department of Finance, Los Alamos National Laboratory, members of the Solid Waste Board, a handful of Los Alamos residents and representatives from Waste Management of New Mexico all gathered at the new Eco Station to celebrate the ribbon cutting.

Curry expressed his pride in the fact that this innovative facility was placed in Los Alamos County.

Miller conveyed excitement for the future and how the convenience offered by the Eco Station will contribute to Los Alamos County meeting and exceeding its recycling goal.

Miller went on to say that Los Alamos’ commitment to building this new facility serves as a mode for what the region, the state, the nation and the global community needs to do to preserve our precious resources. Attendees were treated to tours of the Environmental Services Department building.

  The Eco Station, which will replace the old county landfill, is designed and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards and the administration building has solar heat, hot water and cooling, thanks to a grant from the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Wheeler said, “This project is a demonstration for Los Alamos County and New Mexico of green building and alternative energy.”

The project finished on time and within the construction budget of $6,500,000.

“It was a real team effort since it is a county project on Department of Energy land and most of the utilities are owned by Los Alamos National Laboratory,” she said.

Wheeler was happy to see that the work put in by herself and her staff paid off with the ribbon cutting being held on schedule.

“We all work so hard for things everyday and to have a day of success … it’s fun to be able to celebrate our success,” she said. “It was all of our victory and that’s what felt really good.”

In an effort to reach their goal in becoming hydrocarbon independent, Los Alamos County is building energy efficient buildings and incorporating alternative energy wherever they can.

The county council requires that all building projects owned by the county be designed and built to LEED Silver standards, have 25 percent better energy efficiency than a standard building and incorporate water saving measures.

Wheeler said that she and her staff are planning on generating for the public, education about green features that will include Web site postings and tours of the Eco Station. She is hoping to have the educational tools in place by spring.

The Eco Station should be completely open in January because the landfill still has to meet final contours for closure; however, Wheeler said that they are currently using the front entrance, the scale house and the scale.

She also said that her staff is planning on moving into the new building any day now.

“It’s hard to believe that a trash facility could be beautiful, but it is. I think people will find the paved and enclosed transfer station a convenient and pleasant place to bring trash and recycling,” Wheeler said.