Sustainability Plan

View the city's Sustainability Plan (MS Word / PDF)

Executive Summary of the Plan

The City of Rio Rancho (City) laid the groundwork for this Sustainability Plan (Plan) by passing Resolution 23, Enactment No. 09-023, which recognizes the need to reduce the City’s environmental footprint and establishes a stated policy for the City to be a sustainable community, starting with municipal operations. Furthermore, the City leadership developed a Strategic Plan to establish priorities for City government from 2009 to 2014. Goal 5, Government Services, Strategy E calls for the City to, “Develop and promote a culture of sustainability,” and that the, “City of Rio Rancho is dedicated to achieving sustainability by conducting daily operations through balanced stewardship of human, financial and natural resources.”

A sustainability plan is, in essence, a road map that lays a foundation for planning and action. It defines and illustrates an organizational philosophy toward sustainability through an established vision and policy, goals, strategies, and metrics to improve practices associated with energy use, transportation, solid waste, water consumption, and other areas.

This Plan integrates a top-down vision and goals with bottom-up strategies and practices that can provide both early near-term benefits for Rio Rancho as well as tools for continual and long-term progress toward sustainability. Broadly speaking, this Plan is a vehicle that will help move Rio Rancho systematically toward sustainability in its operations. It creates efficiencies and standardization among programs and provides a shared decision-making and problem-solving framework. It is the logical first step for an organization that is serious about tangible and measurable long-term sustainability practices. In addition to the direct resource efficiency improvements and cost savings Rio Rancho can expect from more sustainable practices, the Plan offers many other operational benefits:
  • Provides a framework for decision-making
  • Provides the foundation for sustainability planning and action
  • Drives change in the workplace
  • Inspires commitment to common goals
  • Creates visible management support and a unifying theme
  • Reflects a future-focused organizational style and responsible culture
  • Provides opportunities for leadership and recognition
  • Improves management of natural resources
The Plan was developed using a collaborative process of interviewing and surveying staff members, facilitating staff workshops, assessing City buildings, and identifying purposeful goals. This process was designed to build off a platform of existing City practices and work toward continuous improvement with regard to effectively managing energy, resource use, waste production, and other practices to reduce impacts and generate cost savings. The Plan is dynamic in that it will evolve over time as goals are achieved and new challenges are addressed.

The Plan is anchored by the City’s vision for sustainability and supported by a City policy that reflects the priorities and values of Rio Rancho and that will be the driving force for implementing the Plan.


“The City of Rio Rancho will be an environmentally sustainable, fiscally healthy, and productive organization that integrates sustainability into all of its decision making processes for the benefit of present and future generations. Through involvement, learning, and innovation, City employees from across all departments will actively contribute to this vision. The City of Rio Rancho will be recognized for the practice of sustainability across all of its municipal operations.”


“The City of Rio Rancho is dedicated to achieving sustainability by conducting daily operations through balanced stewardship of human, financial, and natural resources. The City of Rio Rancho will serve as a community leader in sustainability by conducting operations in a manner that increases energy and resource efficiency, reduces the City’s ecological footprint, saves money, and provides a supportive and productive working environment for its employees.”

With top-down guidance from the vision and policy, a number of goals were developed for the Plan as shown in the following table. These include both 5-year, time-bound, and measurable goals, as well as stretch goals – long-term goals intended to keep the City looking aspirationally forward in its progress toward sustainability.


The goals identified in this Plan have been developed around five focus areas identified by City staff:
  • Energy/Facilities
  • Transportation
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Employees
To work toward these goals, 18 specific strategies form the core components of this Plan. These strategies are the product of review and analysis of building assessments, input from City staff, and review of best practices from other cities and organizations. They were developed keeping a number of identified City priorities and themes in mind:
  • Economic considerations
  • Doing better instead of doing more
  • City guidelines
  • Consolidation
  • Partnerships
Strategies were also evaluated and prioritized with consideration to a number of other factors listed below. Specifically, City staff identified the first two (economics/cost effectiveness and management support) as the most important in the screening process:
  • Economics/cost effectiveness
  • Management support
  • Employee well-being
  • Environment
  • Ease of implementation
  • Visibility
  • Timeliness
  • Multiple benefits
Ultimately, if the energy and water strategies detailed in the report are implemented, the City could potentially save more than $106,000 in operating costs annually at a total cost of $390,000 for a 4-year simple payback. These estimates do not include savings related to transportation (vehicle miles traveled reduction and fuel efficiency), materials, and others that are more difficult to quantify but equally important to the City’s overall approach to sustainability.

Finally, the Plan lays out a path for implementation. Implementation efforts will include staffing and organization considerations, such as identifying a leader or ongoing green team to manage the Plan’s implementation. Partnerships with organizations, local universities, and companies, which are supported by the City’s Strategic Plan, can provide valuable opportunities for sharing resources and technical expertise.

Funding Opportunities
The City can also pursue a number of funding opportunities, from an Energy Services Contract to rebates, a revolving fund, or a Qualified Energy Conservation Bond. Finally, monitoring progress and reporting to staff and the community through a regularly issued sustainability report can help ensure the City’s progress toward sustainability is measured and implementation is tracked over time. Developing a greenhouse gas inventory would be one method for creating a composite metric to monitor energy use, transportation, solid waste, and other factors. Monitoring and reporting efforts will also inform future updates to the Plan, including re-evaluating goals and potentially expanding planning efforts to the broader community.

*The sustainability plan was prepared with assistance from the Brendle Group.

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