Sustainability main focus of luncheon

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By Jennifer Garcia

The first Los Alamos County Sustainability Leadership Luncheon was held Thursday at Fuller Lodge.

More than 50 leaders from government, institutions and private companies convened to discuss a shared vision of a sustainable future. 

Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities hosted the event with sponsorship from Los Alamos National Bank, North Wind, Inc. and Energy Controls, Inc.

Attendees included representatives from U.S. Sen. Tom Udall’s office, as well as U.S. Rep. Ben Lujan’s office. In addition, state representatives Jeannette Wallace and Nick Salazar, Sen. Richard Martinez, Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department Ron Curry and elected officials and staff from surrounding communities.

The event featured guest speakers Patrice “Pete” Parsons, Regional Director for International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Communities for Sustainability and keynote speaker Kurt Yeager of Galvin Electric.

Parsons spoke about the best practices for sustainability in rural communities. During her presentation, Parsons explained the history of ICLEI and also went through the 5-milestone process for sustainability.

Attendees also learned about the benefits of the new smart grid and what it means to residents in Northern New Mexico, during Yeager’s presentation. He explained that the electricity grid being used today is outdated and in need of being revamped. “The electricity grid we have today is a living museum piece. It was designed to dump electricity at your doorstop as quickly as possible,” he said.

 He discussed how the infrastructure needs to be changed and what it will cost the United States to do so.

Council Chair Michael Wheeler spoke briefly during the event about the importance of sustainability and the process through which the county adopted the LEED standard.

 He also spoke about the Eco Station and how it was the first facility to be completed as an LEED building.

“Times are changing and new innovative solutions will be required to plan for affordable and convenient energy, water and transportation that future generations are entitled to,” he said.

City of Española Mayor Joseph Maestas said that his staff is taking changes to make Española sustainable. “This is very exciting in that you’re declaring that Los Alamos wants to be a leader.

æWe’re working on retrofitting buildings with environmentally friendly appliances. We’re also working on a citywide retrofit for lights that LEED,” he commented of Espanola’s progress.

Department of Public Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith explained to the attendees about how power is generated for the county and for the lab.

He also said that the Los Alamos Reservoir is being expanded and his department is looking at developing the San Juan/Chama aquifer.

“There is a log going on behind the scenes to transform the infrastructure of this part of the state to be more efficient,” he said.

Following presentations by the speakers, attendees of the luncheon went across the street to Central Avenue Grill, where discussion continued during lunch.

Later that afternoon the event wrapped up with a tour of the Eco Station.