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CNM enters national recycling contest for colleges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Central New Mexico Community College has launched a major effort to make its campuses more environmentally friendly by adding new photovoltaic panels and entering a coast-to-coast recycling competition with other colleges and universities.

The competition, called the RecycleMania Tourney, involves 600 schools in the United States and Canada. Officially, it got underway Sunday when CNM installed new recycle bins around its campuses, but the big test began in earnest on Monday when thousands of students, faculty, administrators and workers descended on campuses.

The contest will continue for two months. Each week, the amount of material recycled from all CNM locations will be weighed by Waste Management and reported to RecycleMania, which will compare it with other schools. The grand prize will be a trophy made entirely of recycled materials.

“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,” said Luis Campos, executive director of the CNM physical plant. “RecycleMania will provide benchmarks for our recycling efforts, but this is only the start of a larger effort.”

The larger effort includes:

⋄  Installing photovoltaic solar panels at Ken Chappy Hall on the main campus, the Westside I Building, the Rio Rancho campus building and the Workforce Training Center. Besides producing power, the units will serve as “living labs.” For example, chemistry instructors can use them to teach students how materials in the panels generate power, while math instructors can have students practice equations relating to the energy produced by the solar panels.

⋄  Initiating a new software program called the Sustainability Tracking and Rating System that will allow the college to record and benchmark its sustainability efforts. STARS will also let the CNM community view the information and work together to pinpoint strengths and determine areas for improvement.

⋄  Hiring a consulting company, EcoMotion, to help plan and track sustainability initiatives.

⋄  Designating a faculty member from the School of Math, Science & Engineering, Carol Martinez, to obtain information on what instructors are doing in the classroom related to sustainability.

The total cost, excluding the solar panels, was $22,000. Information on the panels was not available.

Halfway through RecycleMania, a day’s worth of trash will be piled high on the main campus to create “Mount Trashmore.” Service Learning students in protective clothing will sort through the trash, separating recyclables to demonstrate the amount that ends up in landfills instead of recycling plants.

During a trial run of the competition for the week ending Jan. 11, Waste Management reported that CNM generated nearly 45,000 pounds of waste, including some 25,000 pounds of recyclables.

Of 85 schools involved in the trial run, CNM placed 19th, CNM spokesman Brad Moore said.