Environmental Sustainability Board aims to green Los Alamos

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By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos County’s Environmental Sustainability Board met for the second time on Thursday in the conference room at the County Annex.

With four new members in place, the board met to discuss goals, programs, achievements, and other items such as budget issues and greening work in progress.

At the Aug. 19 County Council work session held in White Rock, the council voted to appoint four new members to the board.

Two were chosen for a two-year term, while the other two were chosen for one-year terms. Those chosen for two-year terms were Grant Stewart and Brooke Davis.

Those chosen for one-year terms were Mark Jones and Mike Steinzig. In addition to the four new members, the board consists of Jean Burow, Larry Warner, Timothy Neal and Staff Liaison Regina Wheeler.

The purpose of the board is to provide community services in a future with high energy prices, resource limitations and increased regulation; realize benefits including energy security, cost control, cleaner air, healthier lifestyles, vibrant community and economic development; achieve council goals, demonstrate community values, build partnerships and brand Los Alamos as an environmental community.

The board replaces the Solid Waste Advisory Board. The ESB’s fiscal 2009 budget is $40,000.

With this money, it plans to send members to an environmental summit; provide public education and outreach; and provide board education and training.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board discussed the goals of council and the Department of Public Utilities.

Some of the goals listed were: Maintaining quality essential routine services; maintaining environmental quality; improving transportation and mobility; diversifying the economy and providing 85 percent of peak electricity with owned sources, including renewables.

Some of the existing county programs include: high performance green building; open space and trails management; recycling; water and energy conservation and regional transit.

So far, Los Alamos County has made some headway in becoming more environmentally conscious.

Some of the accomplishments include:

• A local and organic farmers market;

• three CIP projects designed LEED Silver+ (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. LEED certified buildings use key resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings, which are simply built to code);

• a $1000,000 grant for solar at the Eco Station;

• recycling 40 percent of the waste at the county landfill – fluorescent bulb and shredded paper recycling was added;

• Boyer contracts that require Energy Star residential and LEED commercial construction;

• energy saving LEDs in all traffic signals,

• and local bus service and the regional transit authority.

In addition, the Department of Public Utilities has offered L.A. Green to electric utility customers; the department has partnered with LANL on the feasibility of the 2MW solar array; has extensive effluent use; has added a water and energy conservation officer, and is offering water conservation education.

Current works in progress for greening county operations include: Certifying existing Energy Star products, installing renewable energy; measuring and verifying the Eco Station; increasing commercial and county office recycling; collecting E-waste; green purchasing; purchasing new vehicles that use alternative fuels and are fuel efficient. Some of the work in progress in an effort to green the community include: conducting energy and water audits; expanding effluent use; publishing the first Conservation Plan; evaluate paying REC for local solar; involving and educating the public; in addition to a establishing a natural food cooperative.

The board will meet again Thursday at 7 a.m. in the conference room at the County Annex.