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Muhamed Abdelhack covers business and economy for The Paper. He is a communications and journalism graduate of UNM.

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Breaking from a bad habit usually begins with a self-assessment of the damage that the habit may be causing to oneself or to others. Then, after you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to identify steps to take in order to distance yourself from said habit and what the benefits and goals will be of changing that behavior. Well, the city council just approved additional funding on a program to help Albuquerque businesses to continue to kick the ultimate bad habit, climate change.

In 2020 the office of Mayor Tim Keller, with a grant from The Energy Foundation, set goals to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent over a five year period through a program called the Mayor’s Energy Challenge. The challenge, which is designed to incentivize participation from small – and medium-size businesses to join in on the fight against climate change, commits them to reducing their energy consumption habits by 20 percent. This, in turn, will help to meet the five-year goals set forth by the program and save businesses on energy costs along the way.

The first 35 small-and medium-size businesses with 7,000 square feet of space or less will receive direct technical assistance as well as an onsite energy analysis. Two of the largest contributors to climate change in New Mexico come from greenhouse gas emissions used in buildings and transportation. The program looks to correct this by focusing on three major impact areas including building efficiency, site efficiency and transportation efficiency. Participants in the Energy Challenge, according to the cabq.gov website, will change behaviors in each of these areas, resulting in reductions in the business’ energy use, utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

At its start, the program saw a variety of small businesses and nonprofit organizations join the initial workshop. Through the workshop, businesses learned how to track their energy usage. They received access to resources to help improve the energy efficiency of their buildings as well as rebate and incentive opportunities. Like all things in 2020, however, COVID happenedwhich led to delays in management and observation of the program. The funding of $40,000 from the City’s General Fund, is needed to allow the participating businesses to complete their Energy Challenge and realize their full energy and utility bill savings.

If the program works, then it’s like any other positive behavior adjustment in that it cuts out the bad in favor of the good. “I believe this program provides resources that are critical for our local businesses during these challenging times,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Isaac Benton in the city’s press release. “Not only does this engage businesses in helping to address the threat of climate change, but it also helps them to reduce operating costs during this critical period.” Businesses interested in participating this year can learn more at www.cabq.gov/energychallenge or by emailing coaenergychallenge@gmail.com

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