This study focuses on the nature of and questions concerning the built environment. This paper deals with the concept of creating a regionally appropriate environmental architecture within an increasingly globalized and modernized society. Architectural regionalism is the central theme of this paper and deals with issues surrounding the ability to create buildings that are not only regional in style, but also that function in concert with the local and global environmental and ecological contexts. My thesis is that architectural regionalism, as a way to create a built environment that is connected to the regional climate, resources and culture, results in better and more sustainable places for people to live.
While central Mexico continues to be a cradle of agrobiodiversity, there have been major changes to the agricultural model since the 1960’s, characterized by an overall decrease in crop diversity and a shift from low-input subsistence farming to high-input commercial farming (Sanderson 1986). In light of this trend, this study focuses on agrobiodiversity and the specific practices associated with seed selection, cultivation, and use of diverse crops in central Mexico. Most related efforts have been made at the scale of “farm” or “nation;” the dynamics of agrobiodiversity at the scale of landscape are less well-understood. This study examines crop diversity within a specific community in central Mexico. Both quantitative measures of crop diversity and qualitative ethnographic data are interpreted through the frameworks of ethnobotany, economic botany, agroecology and human ecology. The agro-system of this community appears to be a relatively stable and sustainable form of agricultural syncretism containing high levels of agrobiodiversity. Using this community as a case study, the functional roles and implications of crop diversity on a bioregion are examined. This contextual examination is conducted with an awareness of the biosecurity threats posed by genetic erosion and the potential benefits of in situ conservation.
The San Juan-Chama Diversion Project (SJCDP) is a federal irrigation infrastructure project that transports 96,200 acre-feet of Upper Colorado River basin water from the San Juan River in Southern Colorado to the Chama River in Northern New Mexico through mountain and desert via a network of tunnels, pipes, and canals. While some of this water is used for municipal and agricultural purposes throughout Middle Rio Grande communities, the majority of this water was purchased by the city of Albuquerque for municipal and industrial uses. This paper uses this, and associated projects (Navajo Indian Irrigation Project) to explore the connections and tensions between the law, people and the environment in the development of the American West, and New Mexico in particular.
Algal biofuel shows incredible potential as a partial solution to our global energy problems, but whether algal biofuel will succeed in the Southwestern United States may depend on the ability of microalgae to effectively grow in water from brackish or saline aquifers. This study was designed to test how effectively algae can grow in water from these brackish aquifers. Experiments measured growth rates (determined by final chlorophyll content) of three algal cultures (Chlorella vulgaris and two locally collected cultures) in increasing concentrations of salt (NaCl), the growth of C. vulgaris in three types of salt found in southwestern aquifers (MgCl2, NaCl, Na2SO4), and the ability of two species (C. Vulgaris and one local species) to produce more lipids when grown in a nitrogen deplete medium rather than a nitrogen replete medium (the “lipid trigger” theory). Data from the first experiment showed that increasing salt decreased overall growth in C. vulgaris and culture #1, but that culture #2 was salt tolerant. The second experiment showed that increasing concentrations of magnesium chloride and sodium chloride decreased growth overall, and that sodium sulfate increased growth overall. The third experiment showed that C. vulgaris had higher lipid content than culture #2, but that neither species significantly increased lipid production when deprived of nitrogen. Though cultivation of algae for biofuel is not currently profitable, utilization of one or more of these strains in brackish aquifer water may provide a viable means to produce biofuel in the future.