By Kathy Straach
Las Cruces set out to have a sustainable convention center, and in doing so, it achieved one of the highest certifications given by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The 55,000-square-foot, one-story building near the New Mexico State University campus is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified at the gold level.
What that means is during the center’s construction and now in its day-to-day operation, saving energy and being sustainable are goals.
In building the center, an effort was made to use materials available in the region, including timber trusses. Trees on site were saved when possible; landscaping that uses little water was planted. Topsoil removed for construction was given to the university for reuse.
The center has solar arrays that provide some energy; it has bicycle racks as well as preferred parking for those who carpool or drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
Many of the measures taken mean a more pleasant experience for meeting attendees, who, for example, breath cleaner air because of the convention center’s efforts to use materials that don’t emit chemicals, or enjoy fresher fruits and vegetables.
“We have meeting packages in which we provide organic food and locally grown products,” said David Hicks, general manager. “We use items that are environmentally friendly.
“It shows that we are good stewards of the environment,” Hicks said. “We are owned by the city, and it is good for the city to give back by providing environmentally friendly facilities. We can leave the world a little better than it was left for us.”