It is only natural that Silver City and Grant County are promoting sustainable design. After all, New Mexico was one of the first states to adopt alternative construction building codes, and years ago the community of Gila was the center of the straw bale home movement. Now, in addition to nationally marketed high-tech appliances and construction materials, locally manufactured adobes, small diameter wood products from the Gila National Forest, hand-made ceramic tiles, standing seam metal roofs (with integrated solar photovoltaic thin film collectors, if desired), and eco-friendly products are easily accessible through specialty retailers, licensed contractors and certified professionals. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is also a wonderful place to find recycled building and renovation materials.
The area’s southwest location offers 360 days of sunshine, and cloudy weather rarely lasts all day—the clouds eventually part, and the sun shines through. Along with the moderate, mild and dry climate (averaging 15-30 percent humidity) and 6,000-foot elevation, highly efficient active solar electric generation or water heating, passive solar heating, natural lighting, ventilation, and evaporative cooling systems are becoming the norm.
State and federal tax credits, along with utility buy-back programs for renewable energy production, have made green building components cost effective with reasonable simple payback periods—well within the useful life of the equipment/ building. Silver City’s new Land Use Code will help the community protect historically significant structures … guiding the owner’s toward maintaining and restoring architectural features as they are retrofitting for improved energy performance and comfort. Educational seminars, hands-on training and community resource guides are also becoming available.
Curbside recycling of aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard, glass, magazines, newspapers, tin, and #1 & 2 plastics is available within the city limits, with transfer drop-off stations located throughout the county. The regional transit bus system, bicycle paths, green space, hiking trails and ongoing comprehensive planning efforts are promoting a pedestrian-friendly community.
Locally grown produce is available at the farmers market (May-October), with grass-feed meats, health foods, herbal remedies, flowers and textiles available year round in a variety of downtown shops. Finally, if you can’t find what you need or want in a local business, they are happy to order it for you. This is what “community” is all about!