Albuquerque becomes 10th city to achieve 2030 District designation

Courtesy Albuquerque Business First.

By Damon Scott

April 23, 2015

Albuquerque has landed on a highly-respected global list — the city has been designated the 10th to become a 2030 District.

The 2030 District program has widespread implications for all industries involved in the built community — commercial real estate, technology, education, government and others. The initiative is a voluntary, private-sector led program with aggressive goals that organizers say will contribute to much-needed economic revitalization in Albuquerque — particularly in the Downtown core and surrounding areas.

“You can feel the change, something is really shifting,” said Holly Carey, Albuquerque’s 2030 District program manager. “People are wanting to come together and work as a team instead of doing things by themselves. Collaboration is happening and there are huge partners that are playing together,” she said.

The designation means Albuquerque’s built community will work toward energy reduction goals leading up to the year 2030. Organizers call it a business case for sustainability — think reduced energy, water consumption and emissions, improved livability, increased property values and a spurring of economic development through the redevelopment and repurposing of older buildings, many of which are located Downtown. Organizers say zero carbon dioxide emissions from Albuquerque buildings in the future is not a pipe dream.

“The desert Southwest faces its own unique challenges and adding Albuquerque to the network creates a model for other Southwestern cities to emulate,” said Vincent Martinez, director of research and operations of Architecture 2030 and interim director of the 2030 Districts Network.

Albuquerque joins nine other cities that have the designation — Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Denver, Stamford, Conn., San Francisco, Dallas and Toronto.

Albuquerque was named as an “emerging” 2030 District last year. Since then, dozens of big names have signed on to be part of a "2030 District boundary." Those names include the University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College, Hotel Parq Central, Hotel Andaluz, Presbyterian Hospital and one of the largest buildings in the state — Plaza Compana in Downtown, where Molina Healthcare of New Mexico is relocating. There are many more.

There are big business names onboard and some are big New Mexico names. The 2030 District program is part of the international Architecture 2030 organization led by Santa Fe’s Edward Mazria, its founder. Mazria has been working with Albuquerque’s Laurie Tarbell, vice president of the Downtown ABQ MainStreet Initiative and co-owner of Levitated Toy Factory with her husband, Jared, who is a founder of Etsy.com. Tarbell has been pushing Albuquerque toward the designation and organizing with the business community for months. She’s signed on dozens of building owners to join the district boundary.

“There’s a huge business education side of this,” said Tarbell. “Some have seen ecological development as some leftist political ideal, but now Walmart is leading in high performance building. It’s not feel-good politics, it’s good business sense,” she said.

Tarbell recruited Jim Folkman and his Albuquerque nonprofit Foundation For Building to be the umbrella organization for the Albuquerque 2030 District. Working with Folkman is executive director Mike Cecchini, a builder and energy expert. Carey is now the day-to-day face of the local push. For more than four years Carey was a senior outreach manager for the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s energy efficiency program. She’s owned her own lighting company and was in lighting industry sales for many years.

A board of 10 advisors is being finalized now, Tarbell said. And while the official launch will happen sometime in the next six months, a celebration event to officially sign the charter takes place April 27. For more details about the 2030 District, go online or email albuquerque@2030districts.org.

(Original article can be found at http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/real-estate/2015/04/albuquerque-becomes-10th-city-to-achieve-2030.html)