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CNM Wins National Recognition for Campus Sustainability Work

The college earned high honors in several categories judged by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
CNM Wins National Recognition for Campus Sustainability Work

Nov 24, 2020

Every year, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) puts out a report called the Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) that recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Colleges and universities are recognized for everything from water conservation to public engagement to energy use.

This year, CNM is proud to announce that it pulled down two, top-10 rankings in categories that put the college up against hundreds of other institutions, including some of the most prestigious universities of record. More specifically, CNM won a fourth place award in the Grounds category and a fourth place award in the Water category.

“Of course this gives us a lot of pride,” says Pete Mora, CNM’s Director of Maintenance and Operations. “It recognizes all the work our team does to help design and then maintain our buildings and grounds in a way that is environmentally friendly but also serves our students, staff, and faculty.”

Molly Blumhoefer, CNM’s Sustainability Project Manager who oversees the campus’ sustainability efforts and submitted the college’s work to AASHE, says she’s glad the college was recognized, but is even more proud of the work itself.

“We’re never out there looking for recognition,” she says. “Instead, the team here at CNM is constantly striving to create an environment that allows the college to operate as efficiently as possible for the entire CNM community.”

In the Grounds category, CNM was recognized for its pest management. By planting native species and keeping the campus exceptionally clean, Molly says pests are not a problem and therefore the campus doesn’t have to use unnecessary pesticides. 

Like all campus decisions, Molly says the plants that decorate the campuses are chosen by a team with important input from Pete and his crew. CNM requires native, drought-tolerant plants, but also needs to know which ones have thrived over time based on feedback from those who maintain the campuses every day. 

“We’re always happy to be the boots on the ground and provide feedback that helps make the campus as efficient as possible,” Pete says. 

In the Water category, CNM was recognized for both water conservation and for stormwater management. Water conservation at the campus has improved drastically over the past decade or so (2008 was used as a baseline comparison year) thanks to things like low-flow toilets and sinks, as well as efficient drip irrigation systems on the grounds, both of which have been advocated for by the facilities staff and maintenance crews. 

In 2008 for example, potable indoor water use per-campus user was 3,177 gallons. In 2019,  it was 1,548 gallons. The campus’ total water use (indoor and outdoor) in 2008 was 30,520,616 gallons. In 2019, the annual total water use dropped drastically to 17,536,568 gallons.

With regard to stormwater management, CNM was recognized for everything from stormwater drain mapping to campus-wide education that ensure the drains are never used for dumping. 

“At CNM we’re constantly moving forward and trying to improve the campus so sometimes we don’t even have time to recognize all the progress,” Molly says. “But when recognition like this comes through, it’s nice to stop and celebrate. More importantly, however, it shows that if we do what’s right for the people on campus, then everything should fall into place for the environment.” 

Pete says his team is happy to be recognized, but even more excited to keep doing their job efficiently.

“We’re glad CNM was called out, but we don’t do this for awards,” he says. “We do this because it feels good to do a good job and contribute to the PPD (Physical Plant Department) goals.”