Green Homes Santa Fe

What makes a home Green? Standards vary, but the soft definition is that a Green home, from how it is built, to how it is heated, cooled and maintained, should conserve energy and water and avoid or limit the use and generation of toxic materials.

Zero Energy Building or Zero Net Energy Building (ZNE) has low-to-no net energy consumption.  An example of this is all-electric solar home. A Green home can be entirely “off the grid” (deriving all its energy from solar panels or windmills and drinking water from a well), or tap utility companies for part of its needs, for example, cooking gas. Amount and kind of insulation, air quality, energy efficiency of appliances and water conservation are other factors that make a home more or less Green.  Another issue is carbon emissions. Does the home have a fireplace or woodstove? Is the stove Catalytic or Non-catalytic (there are arguments in favor of either)?

Community is another element that counts. Are homes clustered to preserve open space?  What’s the walkability? Does the neighborhood reinforce Green principles through covenants or shared values?

From its rural setting, to its community’s character, our listing at 5005 Agua Fria Park Road, is a home with wide-spreading Green roots. The neighborhood is an intentional community: like-minded folk who share conservation values. Together with the Agua Fria Neighborhood Association, the residents have been working to restore the surrounding land, using native vegetation and large river rocks to stabilize the stream beds and retain the soil. Neighborhood members Taylor and Christina Selby, founders of EarthCare International, are coordinators of this project, along with help from AmeriCorps.

The home’s water feature, herbs and fruit trees provide an amiable environment for bees, on loan from the neighbor. Other homes have chickens and turkeys (though I’ve never smelled a whiff of farm.)  The home enjoys a happy balance of rural removal and urban access, natural and handcrafted beauty.

Where once, going Green meant enduring stifling summer heat in an artless utilitarian box, present day homes come in a range of expressions, from high-tech contemporary concept homes to earthy, artistic hand built whimsies and many colors in-between.

Take a tour through 5005 Agua Fria Park Road

To learn about tax credits and incentives for Green Initiatives, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, The Energy Efficiency Home and Vehicle Tax Credit New Mexico Tax Credits and Rebates for making your home more energy efficient Rebates and Tax Credits offered through PNM has scads of juicy links.

Check out Green Fire Times for information on “initiatives that  create positive impacts on climate change, energy independence, and green job development,” with a focus on North Central New Mexico.

5005 Agua Fria Park Rd


Lush, organic gardens surround this pleasant, solar home on 2 peaceful acres minutes from the 599 & shopping. Dwelling & grounds reflect the values & spirit of its environmentally-attuned community. It’s a place where we feel connected, say current owners, [Where we] can ask for help, borrow a tool, receive surplus eggs from a neighbor’s chickens… Photovoltaic solar system meets all electrical demands, with surplus. In floor radiant + catalytic wood stove provide high efficiency heating; water conservation through 3000 gallon water cachement & drip system. Airy, comfortable 2200 sq. ft. main house + 650 sq. ft. guest quarters abound with exquisite touches, like the stunning Master Bath Retreat and NEW granite counters in kitchen and baths. Backyard is a sense-soothing oasis with its burbling fountain and Eden of edibles capped by sweeping mountain and pastoral views. Live richly yet lightly in this lovely Green home.

Dove Ranch

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With Breathtaking views of the Brazos, this serene, secluded, high mountain ranch is a slice of paradise in the lap of the Chama region’s recreational bounty. Snug and sweet country home w/deep terrace offers a front row seat for Nature’s grand display of soaring hawks, bald eagles, elk, deer, wild turkeys and more. A valley of level bottom land, bordered by the running waters of the Rio del Tierra Amarilla, produces quality timothy hay & provides a perfect playground for horses and humans. Mountains rising from the valley’s southern flank ensure privacy and uncluttered views. Property includes a fully insulated, 35′ x 70′ barn with power, phone, full bath and storage, equestrian facilities, plus a well and ample water rights. Tiny craft house has many possible uses. Removed yet not remote, this gorgeous ranch is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live a dream lifestyle: hike, fish, hunt, snowmobile and ski under the clear skies of Northern New Mexico near beautiful Heron Lake.

The Art of Upcycling

2011-04-27 18.09.07Upcycling is “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value,” says Wikipedia.  Where recycling converts plastic bottles into microfiber jackets, upcycling turns newsprint into notebooks, or broken skateboards into hip, colorful benches. For the smartest elucidation of the difference I’ve run across, read this post on Intercon.

Trazzlers’ Turning Trash into Visionary Art is a fun tour of “the mind-boggling things people make with junk.”  From an oceanside pipe organ made of cemetery detrius to the tire, bottle, can and scrap metal-composed Earthships of Taos, the article celebrates extraordinary eventualities that come about when trash falls into the hands of manic humans with vision.

I found the post, Fabulous Furniture Made of Unusual Upcycled Objects on the sharp-minded culture-sifter BrainPickings, the blog committed to “curating eclectic interestingness from culture’s collective brain.” If the idea of a coffin couch gives you the creeps, how ’bout one made through a marriage of old-style leather car seats and vintage refrigerators?

Recently, we were introduced to the work of independent artist Esteban Bojorquez who “[collects] and [reconstructs] the discarded refuse of our throwaway society” into dynamic, tactile delights. Bojorquez’ studio is a brilliant fun house chock-a-block with cheerful, burnished castoffs carefully conjoined into visually pleasing, balanced compositions.  (Watch for a future studio visit.)

Alien Skull, by Esteban Bojorquez

The piece that hooked my interest was “Alien skull:” a metal doppleganger of that overworked Western icon, The Cow Skull. His guitars made of 5 gallon gas cans and other found materials dazzle with wit and whimsical appeal. Bojorquez’ work seemed a perfect match for Changing Gallery’s current venue, the old Palace Grocery Store, near the heart of downtown Santa Fe, so we were thrilled when he consented to a show. If you’re in town on April 16th, come see Bojorquez transform the Palace into, in his words, “an environmental installation, a mercantile of the bizarre and unusual, incorporating [his] assemblage art and creating new products in the spirit of dadaism and mad humor.”


The art of Esteban Bojorquez was featured on CNN’s My City, My Secret.  Professional Skateboarder Terry Kennedy shared his favorite haunts in the San Fernando Valley, including a trip to Cal State Northridge art museum. Watch the video here.

Creating the Perfect Santa Fe

Solemates, Acrylic on Canvas, by Mark Frossard, 2010

A great deal of ink and shutter snaps have been expended by writers and photographers in their efforts to capture the vivid allure of Santa Fe. The latest effort we ran across was “Celebrate Santa Fe” a piece published in Destinations Travel Magazine.

I’m a bit wary of outsiders’ assessments of Santa Fe, or of any city I know well.  Example: a recent Wall Street Journal piece labeling the Albuquerque area near Gertrude Zachary’s “Castle” –an area which includes the Elements Urban Townhomes, a desirable Green Development– as “Skid Row” and “derelict” is an egregious example of the distorted lens of distance.  But Darlene Perrone’s piece rings true in the main. As she says at the start, “There is no place on earth like Santa Fe….”


A little over a year ago, Zane Fischer, writer for the Santa Fe Reporter (Zane’s World), wrote a column entitled Mirror, Mirror.  In it, he said:

“On the whole, it appears the time is right for Santa Fe to head into the New Year understanding that accolades from travel magazines are nice, but clear-eyed assessments of how to move into the future are nicer. All of us need to consider the short- and long-term paths to maintaining the city’s integrity and character while positioning it as a genuine center for creative innovation.”

Accolades are nice.  We get a lot of them. But what’s more important than plaudits based on surveys and dreamy sketches by swing-through visitors is a healthy self regard.  Santa Fe isn’t perfect, but it is genuinely and deeply creative. Entities such as the Santa Fe Complex, a matrix of interdisciplinary cross-pollination, show this small town’s remarkable reach for innovative action.

On Monday, I read a piece Creating the Perfect City is About Illusions, Such As Shorter Blocks about a grassroots urban planner working to make his city more vibrant and liveable. Anthony Lyons, the planner, and David Green, an urban designer from Perkins+Will, have teamed up “to re-imagine how we address the challenges cities face in the coming decades.”  They started with the simple question, “What kind of city do we want to be?”

So how ’bout it Santa Fe: what kind of city do we want to be? Through Changing Gallery and this blog, I regularly cast my votes in support of emerging and independent artists and musicians.  Joshua Maes and I are also, through lifestyle, affiliations and advocacy, supporters of sustainability and Green initiatives. There’s a hot debate about incentives for the film industry, and bills under consideration covering education, energy, marriage and many other issues core to our civic identity. What do you think?

Santa Fe Green Scene: Hempcrete for Housing?

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 3.04.07 PMA home made of hempcrete –a mixture of lime, water and industrial hemp– is the most recent bit of brilliance I’ve found in my ongoing scan for creative housing ideas. Known by various trade names, including Hemcrete®, Isochanvreis, Canosmose, and Canobiote, the substance is durable, waterproof, fireproof, insect and rot resistant. Significantly, it is also Carbon Negative, meaning that it traps more CO2 than its production creates. Plus, it has an exceptionally high insulating capacity.

The Hempcrete House was built in Asheville, North Carolina by eco-friendly design and construction company Push Design for the former mayor of Asheville. (read more at the Asheville Citizen Times website). It’s an elegant soft contemporary (Check out this YouTube by Hemp Technologies,) but the material would adapt well to our Pueblo vernacular.  Hempcrete is made by pouring a lime-water-hemp slurry into small containers which are then packed between forms. After drying, the 12″ thick walls are then covered with lime and stucco. The result could easily comply with Santa Fe’s Historical Building ordinance.

Hemp remains illegal to grow in the U.S. and expensive to import. Yet, unlike its controversial cousin, hemp would be impossible to abuse.  As Push Design’s David Mosrie puts it, someone “would have to smoke the Master Bedroom [2500 pounds of hemp] to get high.”

I tapped Kim Shanahan, executive officer for the Santa Fe Home Builders Association and respected local Green Building expert, for his opinion. “Until we can get back to growing industrial hemp here in the U.S., I don’t see a practical application here in Santa Fe.”  Shanahan did introduce me toFaswall, an amalgam of mineralized wood chips, concrete and fly ash that’s comparable in characteristics, though without the hemp composite’s carbon negative appeal. “Any re-use of waste products is a good thing,” said Shanahan. “Adobe is still our favorite indigenous product, followed quickly by locally, sustainably harvested wood.”


Until hemp growing is given a regulatory green light, its use is likely to be restricted. But its ability to adapt to traditional and modern building styles and superior ecological value make it a promising –if distant– Green building possibility for the Santa Fe home market.Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 3.06.58 PM

**On Tuesday, March 1, 2001, Daniel Clavio and Robin Dorrell will teach a 3 hour class on Alternative Building Methods and Materials at the Santa Fe Community College. Learn about the energy efficiency and Green characteristics of straw bale, adobe, Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), Pumice Crete, Aerated Autoclave Concrete and more. The course will touch on new insulation and advance framing techniques and briefly discuss other forms of alternative construction including rammed earth, straw/clay, cob, timber frame and Earth Ships. This economical course should be an excellent lay person’s introduction to the field. Thanks to the Santa Fe Creative Tourism Blog for bringing this to our attention.