Governor Bill Richardson today announced that the newly completed Pete V. Domenici Education Center at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque has been awarded the top environmental certification, LEED Gold, by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“I have made energy efficiency in state buildings a major priority in my administration both to address the serious threat of global warming and to set the right example for reduced energy consumption throughout New Mexico,” said Governor Bill Richardson.

In January 2006 Governor Richardson signed an executive order requiring all state building construction and renovation projects over 15,000 square feet to be a minimum of LEED Silver certified. Another Governor’s executive order in 2007 calls for a 20 percent reduction in per capita energy use statewide from 2005 levels by 2020, with an interim goal of a 10 percent reduction by 2012.

The new building will accommodate the Cultural Center’s numerous educational programs, serve as a conference and meeting facility, and house the Instituto Cervantes; a prestigious cultural and language institute administered by the Spanish government as well as the Spanish Resource Center an arm of both the Spanish Embassy and University of New Mexico.

Examples of the building’s environmental and green features that led to the LEED Gold certification include:
  • A series of three underground cisterns that store up to 50,000 gallons of harvested rainwater to be used for irrigating landscape. 
  • Use of day lighting through high and carefully placed windows to light classrooms and offices rather than complete dependence on electric lights. 
  • Selection and use of exposed concrete block walls and metal ceilings which greatly reduces the amount, layers and toxicity of building materials required for construction. 

“Our commitment to protecting the environment and sustainability does not end with the completion of the building,” said Dr. Shelle Sánchez, the center’s director of education. “The NHCC is preparing to launch education programs focused on cultural and environmental sustainability and stewardship as well as a series of workshops and school programs focusing on green and bio-friendly art. Our new facility will be the perfect home for education programs teaching the same values that the USGBC promotes through LEED certification of buildings.”

“I am very pleased that our efforts to follow the Governor’s direction on sustainable construction practices are being recognized in this way,” said Cultural Affairs Department Secretary Stuart Ashman. “The designation will allow Dr. Sánchez and the NHCC staff to broaden their already excellent education programs with a new dimension.”

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for designing and constructing green, energy efficient and high performing buildings.