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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Diane Denish in Sunland Park to Promote the Potential of Green Jobs and Housing (with Photos)

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Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with another report from Southern New Mexico.

Diane Denish, the Democratic nominee for Governor, brought her campaign to the Tierra Madre neighborhood at Sunland Park in southern New Mexico Tuesday to outline plans for new high-tech jobs and renewable development in the emerging fields of green energy and construction. The community-based Tierra Madre affordable housing development is a bright spot an otherwise generally poor economic climate in the southwest. 

“It’s about community,” Denish said, highlighting the successful efforts of the Tierra Madre neighborhood to create new jobs and locally-based technologies. Despite proving its viability, the project was built largely without the support of traditional sources of financial resources. Denish promised to expand Tierra Madre's model of success elsewhere in New Mexico

“These are difficult times and New Mexicans from all walks of life are hurting. That’s why I believe the time is now for bold action to create jobs and give people hope for the future,” Denish said. “Let my opponent focus on the past. I am going to be focused on the work that needs to be done to get New Mexicans back to work,” she said.

The Tierra Madre neighborhood is a community-based effort to create an affordable neighborhood utilizing efficient low-footprint construction materials and low-cost renewable energy sources. The homes at Tierra Madre are constructed utilizing straw bale construction, which keeps the interior cool in the summer and warm in the evening. Homes include passive solar heating, solar electric generation and solar water heating. The homes are also outfitted with high-efficiency appliances. 

The homes, which cost an average $70,000, save between 35 and 60% in energy costs over conventional housing. The 1536 sq. foot, four bedroom model home toured by Diane Denish also utilized a grey-water system for landscape irrigation, which preserves water resources for the inside of the home. The straw bale design originated with similar successful communities in Montana and uses raw materials from the southwest.

Since it was first planned, the Tierra Madre neighborhood has grown into a thriving community. The green housing development is supported by grants and donations from the State of New Mexico and several other not-for-profit funding sources. The first five homes were completed in 1998. The green technologies at the project have stirred interest in green housing from both outside and inside the neighborhood. “Many of the students in our community want to go into architecture and engineering,” said Cece Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Tierra Madre Community Land Trust. Funding has been a challenge for the neighborhood. Despite its success, Rodriguez noted that traditional sources of banking credit have been cool toward the green community.

Expanding on the Tierra Madre Model
In her campaign for governor Diane Denish has been promoting green jobs for New Mexico’s future. In showcasing the successful development of Tierra Madre, Denish promised to expand the successful model elsewhere in New Mexico and to focus on building public/private partnerships and educational opportunities in both the large research universities and community colleges that can build on the natural advantages of the state. She said that state support would help build confidence in green building. Denish also proposed expanding tax credits for clean technology businesses and other incentives to keep green businesses in New Mexico.

Denish pointed to Tierra Madre as a successful example of how state and community partnerships can join together to create jobs and quality affordable housing in New Mexico. She also noted that Tierra Madre was an example of how green technologies are an affordable answer to the challenge of rising housing and energy costs across the state. While many have focused on high-end jobs in the emerging green energy and building industries, Denish also stressed that green building would help expand traditional construction and housing jobs in New Mexico as older homes are retrofitted for energy efficiency and cost savings.

Denish was joined at Sunland Park by State Representative Mary Helen Garcia (D-34), whose district includes the Tierra Madre neighborhood.

All photos by Stephen Jones.

To see more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

August 3, 2010 at 07:36 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Diane Denish, Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Housing, Jobs, Las Cruces | Permalink


I am very glad to know about this. This sort of convergence of conservation, building and alternative energy began to be practiced by the first inventors and innovators in the wake of the crisis that convulsed Americans in gas lines in 1973.

The development has languished largely because Republicans seem to think innovation is somehow a sort of communist philosophy and because the oil industry was putting major muscle into policy at all levels through contributions to Republicans from Ronald Reagan on down to city council candidates.

Now, with a Democrat in the White House, at least
twenty five years of stalled progress can be set aside. This is why we need a Democrat in the state house. So that the progress we need will not be further stalled.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Aug 4, 2010 9:09:43 AM

These kinds of developments should be built all over New Mexico. Imagine-affordable housing that is also green. I don't get why banks won't loan for them except they're being prejudiced. I hope Denish follows through on this if she is elected. Susanna Martinez is 100% against this sort of thing. She is for the rich.

Posted by: Madie | Aug 4, 2010 10:42:11 AM