Community Resources & Solutions for Green Living in Southern New Mexico

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Viva Verde's goal is to connect community members in southern New Mexico with the local green goods, services and resources to be more energy efficient, save on energy costs, and to live more lightly on the planet. We want to promote local green businesses and organizations that are accessible to everyone and that contribute to more sustainable communities.

What's New at Viva Verde?

Latest Edition of the Viva Verde Guide for Southern New Mexico: NOW ON-LINE 
The update, published bilingually and available in “hard copy” later this winter, contains fully updated entries detailing in both Spanish and English our region’s green businesses and resources. The on-line version also has a new “search” function to help you find exactly what you seek. A grant from the U.S. EPA Border 2012 Program has made Viva Verde’s directory available for the first time on the Internet in Spanish. According to the U.S. Census, 40 to 50 percent of the population in southern New Mexico speaks a language at home other than English, Spanish being the most widespread. Making green resources available in Spanish and accessible to all residents in the region is an important goal of Viva Verde.

Promote your green business by advertising with the new, bilingual Viva Verde Guide
Low-cost ad rates available for southern New Mexico’s largest green business directory and resource guide. Hard copy guide to be published winter 2011.
Deadline to reserve your ad space: January 15, 2011
Call 575.538.8078 or e-mail
Download the ad rates here.

Viva Verde Energy Efficiency Program Underway
by Richard Mahler, Newsletter Editor

On a frosty December morning, Juan Madrid and Jenny Payan open
their Deming mobile home to a team of skilled conservation experts whose
goal is to reduce gas and electricity bills while making the residence more comfortable,
healthy, and Earth-friendly for the couple and their children, Mia and
Damian. During the next hour, everyone in the family learns lessons about energy—
and more.

“This is a blessing,” said Payan, who arranged for the visit after seeing a flyer promoting the Viva Verde Residential Eficiency Program, a free service offered by GRIP to low-income residents of Luna and Hidalgo counties through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s US-Mexico Border 2012 Program. “I can’t thank these people enough,” added Madrid, as the fourperson task force, with the focused precision of professionals, did its makeover.

Karyn Neil, an art student at Western New Mexico University and the program’s director, supervised interns A.J. Sandoval and Arturo Ávila, fellow WNMU students from Silver City, and Grace Jones, an artist from Columbus. While Neil provided and discussed educational material with the homeowners, interns installed weather-stripping around doors and windows, caulked and
foam-sealed cracks, installed low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, insulated electrical outlets, and checked for leaky toilet tanks. The couple already had installed long-lasting and low-current CFL light bulbs, so were given a supply of spares. “Juan and Jenny were very interested in learning about how to make their residence even more energy efficient,” Neil said, before driving her team to another in a day-long series of appointments. “I suggested ways to save water when they cooked or did laundry, and how heavy window drapes could hold heat inside at night during winter or block the daytime sun in summer. We also identified some safety issues of which they were unaware.”

According to Neil and members of her team, this residence was typical of many they visit, where simple, low-cost improvements can quickly and easily lead to reduced drafts, lowered utility billls, and less consumption of resources. Participating households also receive information on low-energy appliance rebates and various weatherization and housing rehab programs offered by local, state, and federal agencies. Viva Verde’s services have been provided on a first-come, first-served basis to those who responded from September through November. Project partners include the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, Silver City/Grant County Office of Sustainability, U.S. Department of Energy, and PNM.

“I’m definitely learning some useful ‘green’ job skills,” said Sandoval, as he placed pellets of dye in one of the mobile home’s toilet tank. (By coloring the water blue and tracing its seepage, silent but costly leaks can be detected.) “I do construction work and this internship has taught me a lot.”

Taking a break from changing faucet aerators, an easy way to reduce water usage, Ávila explained how the experience he’s getting complements his coursework at the university, where he studies electrical engineering. “I see lots of problems in the homes we visit,” said Ávila, “but I’m also seeing many ways to solve them in an energy-efficient way.”

The interns work one day each week and in some cases do outreach, while Neil schedules clients, researches products, organizes materials, buys and packs supplies, and drives the interns and their supply kits to participating homes. “Our visits seem very meaningful to those we serve,” Neil concluded. “They’re excited and grateful for our improvements, the comfort they provide, and the savings on their energy bills.”

Sign up for your free "Energy Sense" upgrade in Silver City, Grant County
Nearly 100 of the 450 homes slated for free conservation upgrades under the Energy Sense program have been retrofitted, according to the Joint Office of Sustainability for Grant County and Silver City. The year-long effort, which began in mid-September, is funded  through a federal Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant. The money pays a staff of four to provide, at no cost to homeowners, an energy audit and such follow-up improvements as caulking, weather-stripping, plumbing insulation, faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, and Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs. The team educates residents about other ways to save energy, such as turning off unneeded lights, fixing toilet leaks, adding door sweeps, and washing dishes or clothes only when appliances have full loads. 

Although any Grant County resident can request Energy Sense assistance, priority is given to those who earn less than $45,000 a year, are disabled, or who are 65 or older. Applications are available at the Joint Office of Sustainability inside the Grant County Business and Conference Center (in Silver City, next to Ace Hardware on US 180) or by calling (575)  654.5117

Featured Video:
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Thanks to our Sponsors!

McCune Foundation
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Viva Verde c/o Gila Resources Information Project
305A North Cooper Street • Silver City, NM 88061 • p/f 575.538.8078