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Las Cruces City Council Adopts New Internal Electrification Standards

City of Las Cruces


The Las Cruces City Council unanimously passed a resolution to adopt beneficial electrification standards for all new construction owned or developed by the city. In part, this means city building designers will need to consider efficient electric appliances and high-efficiency mechanical systems.


City Sustainability Specialist Jenny Hernandez says the resolution is the first step toward all-electric development.


“The actual components within the resolution is that all new construction that is owned or developed by the city is designed through a holistic approach,” Hernandez said. “That just means that we're making sure when we design the building, we keep in mind the orientation of the building, make sure that we're maximizing those things, so that when we put renewable energy on it, that we're getting the best use out of it.”


Approximately 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions within the city of Las Cruces stem from building emissions. Outgoing Councilor Gill Sorg says investing in electric infrastructure will help pave the way for a more sustainable future.  


“It is a good thing for us to stop burning fossil fuels in our buildings,” Sorg said. “This is an important part to begin to lower that greenhouse gas production. The upfront cost is not that much more expensive. I think we’ll find that the little bit more expensive it is, we’ll be saving a lot of the money in maintenance and operations in the future.” 


While the presentation did not include a cost savings analysis, the city has until June of 2022 before the resolution officially takes effect. Hernandez says the extra time is needed to plan and oversee training efforts.


“The training is specifically for staff in the construction industry,” Hernandez said. “We will walk them through policies, finances, everything that has to do with beneficial electrification and understanding it and the technologies.”


That gap has Councilor Kasandra Gandara concerned there could be a delay implementing the new standards. She says upcoming construction projects shouldn’t be exempt from adhering to the resolution.


“Some of the projects that we have are multimillion-dollar projects. And it behooves us to start now rather than wait,” Gandara said. “I feel sometimes council puts things forward and then there's some wiggle room in it and that happens that then we're not moving in the direction that council feels it should be.”


To keep updated on the progress of the resolution and future efforts, Mayor Ken Miyagishima has requested a quarterly sustainability activity update. City Sustainability Officer Lisa LaRocque says those updates should help to provide councilors with concrete details about future electrification efforts.


“I think what the mayor has just proposed for a quarterly update will give you a good sense about whether these resolutions that we're putting forward are capable of realizing the goals that we have set,” LaRocque said.


Madison Staten was a Multimedia Reporter for KRWG Public Media from 2020-2022.