State commission's repeal won't change Santa Fe's green codes

Green Building Code in Santa Fe Approved

Originally published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on June 11

The decision Friday by the state Construction Industries Commission to repeal an energy efficiency code won't affect the city of Santa Fe's green building policies.

The City Council approved a new green building code in 2009 that was more stringent than the state's.

The city's building code requires new houses to achieve a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of 70.

Under the system, a home built to the specifications of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code scores a HERS index of 100, while a net zero energy home scores O. The lower a home's HERS index, the more energy efficient it is.

The state code, approved in 2009 after negotiations between the New Mexico Home Builders Association, the Sierra Club and other groups, required a HERS index of 80. The commission's decision will reduce the state's energy-efficiency requirement to a rating of 85 or 90, depending on the building.

A small-business task force appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez also recommended overturning the energy-efficiency requirement.

Kim Shanahan, chief executive officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, said Santa Fe has shown green building and energy-efficiency requirements don't make houses more expensive and will save homeowners money in the long run.

He said Centex Homes is building most of the city's affordable housing and meets the code. Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in Santa Fe that are certified at a HERS 60, more than meeting the code and qualifying for grants. The Villa Alegre civic housing project is building affordable homes with HERS 20 ratings, he said. "The least expensive homes are some of the most energy-efficient in town," Shanahan said.

Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or smatlock@sfnewmexican.com.