CNM Enters National RecycleMania Tourney and Goes for the Green

Jan. 14, 2014 -- As part of an overall surge in sustainability efforts at CNM, the college has thrown its hat in the ring for the 2014 RecycleMania Tournament, which begins Feb. 2.
July 16, 2015

More than 600 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada have entered the competition. CNM will compete against other community colleges from coast to coast. The competition begins Feb. 2 and continues for two months. Each week, the amount of material recycled from all CNM locations will be weighed by Waste Management and reported to RecycleMania.

“We decided to partner with faculty and Service Learning  to offer the RecycleMania Tournament as a great Service Learning option for the Spring term and to become more systemic in our sustainability efforts as we move forward,” said Luis Campos, executive director of the Physical Plant. “We’re hopeful that RecycleMania will help our students, faculty and staff get even more excited about the impact they can have on protecting the environment and increasing sustainability. And RecycleMania will provide benchmarks for our recycling efforts, but this is only the start of a larger effort.”

CNM will soon be documenting its sustainability efforts into a software system called the Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS), which is a program from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) that will allow CNM to record and benchmark all of its sustainability efforts. The college has also hired a consulting company, EcoMotion, to assist in the planning and tracking of sustainability initiatives.

STARS will allow the entire CNM community to view the information and work together to pinpoint strengths and determine areas for improvement. Another goal of the project is to have faculty access and use the information in the classroom to further sustainability awareness. To learn more about STARS, click here.

Carol Martinez, a faculty member in the School of Math, Science & Engineering, will be assisting Facilities to obtain information on what instructors are currently doing in the classroom related to sustainability.

Preparing for RecycleMania has been a collaborative effort between the Physical Plant, faculty members and Service Learning. Psychology faculty member Asa Stone, Sharon Gordon-Moffett who oversees Service Learning, and Campos have led the charge to get students engaged and provide them opportunities to get more involved in CNM's recycling efforts. Faculty members Carson Bennett and Sandra Rourke  will be working on organizing recycling activities at the Westside and Montoya campuses.

Waste Management is also an important partner in the effort, since they will be providing extra recycle bins during the tournament and weighing the materials each week.

RecycleMania, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization governed by a board made up of recycling managers from various universities, serves as a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs as a way to promote waste reduction activities on college campuses. During the competition, the stats will be compared to determine which institutions have the best recycling rates. At the end of the two-month competition, winning schools will receive awards made out of recycled materials, in addition to the pride that comes with contributing to the health of the planet.

Mount Trashmore – Build It and Then Recycle It
Halfway through the RecycleMania competition, one day’s worth of trash from Main Campus will be piled high in a parking lot yet to be determined to create “Mount Trashmore.” Service Learning students will sort through it in protective clothing, separating recyclables from waste, to demonstrate the amount of recyclables that end up going to a landfill instead of recycling plants.

“I think Mount Trashmore will be a great learning experience for everybody,” Campos said. “We are doing well with recycling on our campuses, but there are a lot of recyclables that end up in our trash. We hope that this event will bring awareness to that issue and motivate our students, faculty and staff to be even more diligent about what can and should be recycled.”

Campos is responsible for overseeing the operational aspect of the tournament. Stone is using the event as part of her curriculum and she’s encouraging faculty involvement across the college. Gordon-Moffett is rallying excitement and participation through the Service Learning component.

Photovoltaic Units to be Used as ‘Living Labs’
Also as part of CNM’s increasing sustainability efforts, over the next few weeks the college will be installing new photovoltaic (solar panel) units at the following locations: Ken Chappy Hall on Main Campus; the Westside I Building; the Rio Rancho Campus building; and the Workforce Training Center. Besides producing power that will contribute energy to the buildings, the units will be available to serve as “Living Labs” for students and faculty members.

The Physical Plant has teamed with a group of eight faculty members to develop the “Living Labs” concept. They include: Sue Small, Artemio Zavala, Jessie Harwell, Carol Martinez, Eric Barros, Robert Mroz, M.J. Zimmerman and Holly Hitzemann. These faculty members are working with the Physical Plant, Steve House, a consultant with Triple H Solar, and the contractor Paradise Power Company Inc, to begin incorporating solar concepts into their curriculum.

For example, chemistry instructors could use the PV units to teach their students about how materials in the panels are used to generate power or mathematics instructors could have their students practice math equations that relate to the energy produced by the solar panels.

Weaving sustainability into curriculum can raise awareness among students and build more momentum for renewable energy and environmentally responsible practices in the future. Any interested instructors are encouraged to take students to visit the photovoltaic units and include them in their curriculum.

For more information, please contact Asa Stone at, Sharon Gordon-Moffett at or Luis Campos at