As a part of a brief eco-centered tour of New Mexico Thursday, White House environmental guru Nancy Sutley took a walk through Santa Fe Community College's new Trades and Advanced Technology Center.
Sutley, who chairs the Council on Environmental Quality, toured the building with Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, Councilor Chris Calvert, City Attorney Geno Zamora and a score of students and faculty involved in the school's Sustainable Technologies Center, a department aiming to verse students with the emerging green economy. The STC, which is housed in the new building, offers degree programs in a plethora of renewable energy technologies like biofuels, green building and energy auditing. The $12 million Technology Center opened in May.
After the tour, Sutley told the crowd how great she thought it was to see Santa Fe "embracing this brave new world of green technology."
"We can see the jobs of the future being born right here," Sutley tells SFR.
Her green credentials got a national boost in the mid-2000s when, under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, she retrofitted 500 of Los Angeles' oldest buildings to make them more efficient.
Mayor Coss says Sutley's visit is an effort to show people the relevance of green energy programs advocated by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, all Democrats.
"They're obviously wanting to make sure their policies have resonance in local communities," Coss tells SFR. "Right now they're facing a hostile Congress that doesn't want any of this, at least in the House of Representatives."
Santa Fe Community College President Shelia Ortego says the building and its programs are an effort make "all the technicians we're training here more marketable to the green economy."
Although it was paid entirely through city and county bonds, Ortego says she's been on the lookout for federal funding to expand the building. "We're working to build visibility on the national front," she says. "We feel we're a national model that other people can replicate."
While Sutley's visit is certainly a start, Ortego has more ambitious plans in mind. After thanking Sutley for stopping by, Ortego slipped her a note inviting President Obama to deliver next year's commencement speech.