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USGBC – New Mexico Chapter Position on the 2009 AECC (Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code)
The US Green Building Council-New Mexico Chapter strongly urges the City Council to maintain the Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code (AECC). A rollback to the unfinished 2009 New Mexico Energy Conservation Code (NMECC) would be bad for business and bad for the environment.
As the USGBC-NM Chapter noted during hearings for the state rollback to the 2009 IECC, that code is a template, intended to be used as a base for the creation of a locally appropriate code. Albuquerque has already undergone a process to create a locally appropriate code, in the form of the AECC. This code was vetted by public process, an economic impact study, and the Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee. City Council now proposes to implement a rollback without waiting for the Economic Impact Analysis to be completed.
Reverting to the unfinished 2009 NMECC does not make sense for Albuquerque’s businesses or families. Small business owners have seen rising energy costs eat into their profits. One striking example is offered by an owner who reports that his energy costs on a commercial property escalated from $300 to $1,000 per month since he purchased the property in 2002.
According to the 2008 Energy study, every $1,000,000 invested in residential energy efficiency creates over 200 jobs and leverages a multiplier of almost 20. According to a 2011 study by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, every $1,000,000 invested in commercial energy efficiency creates over 80 jobs. Communities requiring energy efficient commercial buildings have created 114,302 jobs since 2008. Moreover, these initial investments in energy efficiency create ongoing economic development for cities willing to make the initial investment. Austin, Texas’ booming economy has clustered around green development, and this approach has resulted in investment and employment significantly higher than average during the Great Recession.
Energy-efficient construction appears good for local home builders. Following the burst of the housing bubble, the companies building and selling homes in our area are almost exclusively those that build “green,” like Pulte Homes, Artistic Homes, and Paul Allen Homes. Green homes have helped Albuquerque have the greatest number of housing starts in the metro region. Families are using the marketplace to tell builders they recognize the value of having an efficient home with low operating costs.
Fear of challenging economic circumstances should also not be the basis of a retreat from the Albuquerque-specific energy saving code. The Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code offers opportunity for our community to continue leading the state by example. The long-term benefits include reduced building operating costs and cleaner, more comfortable, indoor environments for building occupants. These benefits accrue to our entire community: our natural environment, our children, our families, our employees, ourselves. The financial savings help offset the pending utility rate increases and allow New Mexicans to choose how they spend their hard-earned money.
Environmentally, reduced energy consumption resulting from the code will reduce emissions from our coal-fired power plants that contribute to climate change. A roll back would add emissions to the atmosphere, in exchange for modest initial cost savings for a very small segment of our community: builders and developers.
We accept the imperfections of a document generated by open and honest discussion about the effects of the code. Rather than make hasty changes behind closed doors, we urge the City Council to accept the open process for revision and improvement already embedded in the code. We challenge opponents of maintaining the Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code to identify specific technical problems, and present solutions through the existing revision process.
Other regions and states are preparing to adopt more progressive codes: Maryland, California, Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, New York and Vermont. New national codes are already pushing beyond IECC 2009, to IECC 2012. The Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code is certainly not the most progressive energy conservation code, and even it will quickly require ongoing evaluation and updating to remain current with national trends. USGBC-NM offers its expertise to provide technical assistance, and to help small businesses develop energy models and reach code compliance.
The USGBC-NM remains committed to changing the built environment within a generation – this requires building codes like the AECC 2009, which turns increased energy efficiency into economic development for our residents.
Approved 9/29/11 USGBC-New Mexico Chapter Board of Directors
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