The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus students are seeing their campus go green, in turn, saving them some green. They are saving money by switching to solar; money, they say, will then go back into students’ educations.

The UNM-Valencia Campus is starting to see the return of installing solar panels on campus. With two buildings powered by solar already, about 18-20 percent of their power comes from green energy, and that number is only expected going to grow.

We have been lucky enough to get some local bond funding to be able to do a lot of installations and a lot of maintenance on the campus, said Rick Goshorn, Director of Business Operations at UNM-Valencia Campus. One of those is installing solar rays on basically every building on campus.

Overall, the campus plans to install solar rays on every building on campus. They’ve also installed solar-powered picnic tables around the school where students can charge their phones and laptops while working outside.

With a goal of getting their electric bills down from about $280,000 a year to $150,000, the school says thousands in savings will go right back to students.

It allows us to redirect those kinds of expenditures back into the classroom and back into the student experience and the education they receive here, said Goshorn. The more that we can do along those lines, the more of a better experience we can provide our students.

The campus is also making efforts to create solar-powered covered parking for electric cars to charge, and they’re replacing all lighting fixtures with LED technology.

If anybody just shows up in an electric car can just charge it and plug it in. Anybody in the community who wants to charge their car on green energy, they can come out and do it, said Goshorn. It will all be charged through solar power.

Goshorn says other businesses and organizations in the area are beginning to take UNM’s lead in green energy.

It’s neat to be able to see the transformation and the community really gathering around it. We’ve kind of become a lightning rod for Valencia County to where there’s an awful lot of solar going on especially with our Facebook operations that are going on down here now, said Goshorn. The county offices are trying to figure out a way to model their buildings off our buildings so it’s neat. It’s kind of rolling forward. It’s been nice to see.

UNM Valencia plans to have around 60-70 percent of the campus’ power coming from green energy by the end of 2019.