ABQ Energy Code Rollback a Step in Wrong Direction

Green Building

Published in the ABQ Journal on August 10

by Shrayas Jatkar, Sierra Club; City Councilor Ike Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn, eSolved.

We strongly oppose the move to scrap Albuquerque's energy-saving building code. The guaranteed outcomes from such a move are greater energy waste, higher monthly utility bills for consumers and increased pollution.

The Journal's front-page article of July 27 and its editorial on July 29 got a lot of information wrong. Compared with the state code, Albuquerque's current energy conservation building code provides far more energy and utility bill savings for businesses and residents in the city.

Also, the existing Albuquerque code underwent a thorough economic impact analysis to ensure that the upfront costs of meeting the code weren't onerous - and they weren't.

It is also important to note that Councilor Ken Sanchez is not co-sponsoring this scheme, as was incorrectly stated. Given the Journal's unwillingness to question information given by opponents of energy-efficiency who wish to take the City of Albuquerque backward, we thought we should provide some actual facts.

Simply put, there is no good reason for falling in line with Gov. Susana Martinez's attack on energy efficiency.

There are challenges for designers and builders in utilizing any new or updated code, but to scrap our code and replace it with an international template is reckless. That's exactly what the State of New Mexico did, which spurred mass confusion in the building industry and a legal appeal from builders, businesses and energy efficiency advocates.

We'd be much better off now if city staff had spent time educating builders about the code - which is now two years old - and encouraging them to meet the requirements instead of developing plans and schemes to move the city backward in energy savings and pollution control.

Energy-efficient construction actually appears good for business, at least for home builders. Following the burst of the housing bubble, almost the only folks building and selling homes in our area are the ones that are building "green" like Pulte Homes, Artistic Homes and Paul Allen Homes.
Also, it is noteworthy that there are more housing starts in the city of Albuquerque than the metro region as a whole.

Clearly, individuals and businesses recognize the value of having an efficient building with low operating costs - even if the sponsors of the code rollback don't.

The major benefit of the current Albuquerque code is that it provides safety and comfort to the people living and working in buildings. For example, efficient windows and roofing materials, make it possible to keep a building cool during the heat of New Mexico's summers. Adequate air sealing and insulation protect us during periods of extreme weather events like the deep freeze we experienced this past February. The Albuquerque code provides these benefits while also saving citizens a lot of money on their monthly utility bills.

Healthy and comfortable buildings and healthier pocketbooks - definitely a win-win for Albuquerque consumers.

We believe in preparing Albuquerque for the future. Energy-saving features in new buildings are an excellent way to maintain the value of our buildings, which last for decades and are often people's single biggest asset.

Energy efficiency - especially in new construction - serves as insurance against future utility rate increases. The reduction in energy use through the Albuquerque code benefits everyone by lowering our community's overall demand for energy, which alleviates the need for more natural gas development or building of additional power plants.

Energy-efficient buildings are a win-win for our economy and environment.
Albuquerque should not join the Martinez administration's backward march on common sense, energy-saving building codes.