March 01, 2009

Inspiring Hero 2009 Nomination

Al Sena,
Executive Director, Facilities Department, Rio Rancho Schools, New Mexico

Dedicated to Award-Winning Building and Student Excellence

Al Sena, Executive Director Facilities, of Rio Rancho Public Schools in Rio Rancho, New Mexico speaks with pride and passion about his role as a leader in the development and implementation of sustainable High Performance School Buildings throughout the Rio Rancho School District.

"There is an opportunity in public work to leave your footprint or your fingerprint," says Sena. "That's what I am trying to do -- to improve learning environments for kids so that they will benefit for years to come, even after I am gone. Also, important for their future, they will understand how the environment affects their health and their learning."

Sena has the enthusiastic support and cooperation of his school board, staff and district parents for the values he has brought to the school system to improve student achievement, reduce costs and preserve environmental resources. He was nominated by Phillip A. Bradley-Ortiz, Project Manager, Rio Rancho Public Schools.

The Rio Rancho School District is deeply committed to Building Excellence.

Everyone understands that providing all students with a clean, safe, healthy school environment supports student excellence. Sena describes how building design and curriculum are integrated to foster cooperation with health and environmental goals.

One example of practical design is to position rest rooms near classrooms and to provide educational materials about the benefits of frequent hand washing. The convenient location of the restrooms makes is practical to build time to wash hands into class transition times.

Sena has been working for the Rio Rancho Public Schools for ten years. He has oversight of all buildings in the fast growing school district serving 16,000 students on 18 campuses totaling over 1.9 million square feet and 450 acres of property.

He is responsible for custodial, maintenance, grounds, capital improvements, and administration. He has direct involvement in the planning, design, and construction of new facilities and is liaison for the City of Rio Rancho's many departments. Additionally, Sena coordinates with state and county agencies for capital outlay.

He is steward of many programs and projects including:

- The Healthy High Performance Cleaning Program that was especially motivated by the goal of promoting wellness and reducing absenteeism among school staff.

- The Rio Rancho schools are an US EPA Energy Star Partner. See the Rio Rancho Sandia Vista Elementary School

- Energy Conservation. To see the latest results of the Rio Rancho’s exemplary Energy Conservation program and the EnerG3 Powerpoint presentation go to http://webster/Administration/Facilities/documents/Jan2009.pdf

- The Rio Rancho School District is one of 12 partners in the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) Green Schools Program to reduce energy consumption in educational facilities nationwide.

- The Rio Rancho School Board has endorsed the goal of achieving a Silver Leed rating for existing schools. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System) is a third-party certification program. It is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

- Rio Rancho School District is one of 12 districts in the country participating in a new LEED for Existing School Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Rating System. It is a whole-systems approach to improving the indoor environment; and uncover operating inefficiencies. One of Rio Rancho's schools is a prototype for the LEED Existing Building certification.

- The Rio Rancho schools will be seeking Silver LEED Certification on three schools, two built and one currently under construction. (For information about LEED® Certification see or

- Two elementary schools were awarded the Monarch Projects of Merit Award by the Southwest Region of the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI). The annual Southwest Region Monarch Award recognizes and honors the members of the Southwest Region and their influence for creating, delivering and maintaining excellence in school facilities planning.

Sena also serves the Southwest Representative on the board of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and the New Mexico Public Schools Facility Authority, Maintenance Advisory Group.

With Al Sena's professional leadership, the Rio Rancho Schools are reaping the benefits of their commitment to health, performance and sustainability. They are at the forefront of the development of Healthy High Performance Schools.