City Councilors Isaac Benton, Michael Cadigan, and Martin Heinrich announced that they will move forward a legislative initiative to protect the city’s sustainability and establish Albuquerque as a leading city in addressing global warming.
The ordinance sets an example for other cities seeking to concretely contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and does so comprehensively across the City’s building practices.
“We have been working for a number of months to draft legislation that will serve as a national model for addressing the global problem of climate change,” explained Councilor Martin Heinrich. “This ordinance will move Albuquerque into the forefront of green building in the United States and help us get a handle on Albuquerque’s greenhouse gas emissions by mandating higher standards of energy efficiency for all residential and commercial buildings in the city.”
In addition to the Albuquerque High Performance Buildings Ordinance (PDF), this legislation proposes the adoption of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC); currently, the State of New Mexico and City of Albuquerque use the 2003 version of the IECC, which has lower, less stringent standards of energy conservation than the latest edition.
According to Councilor Isaac Benton, a green architect with 30 years of professional experience, “The requirements set forth in this ordinance take care of what I would call the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of efficiency standards that any architect and builder can achieve at relatively low cost. Though the changes being proposed are actually quite simple to make, the impact on our environment will be significant.”
In short, the bill does the following:
Part I of the legislation adopts the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code standards. By adopting the 2006 standards, Albuquerque would be surpassing what is required by the State (which still uses the 2003 code) and holding ourselves to a higher standard of energy conservation.
Part II creates the “Albuquerque High Performance Buildings Ordinance,” which applies to all new construction and significant alternations of existing buildings.
Under this section of the ordinance, projects that are LEED certified will receive Priority Plan Check Processing at the City. This will help encourage and expedite the construction of energy-efficient buildings.
Requirements include: higher standard of efficiency for air conditioning and heating systems, building insulation, roof insulation, and hot water heaters; testing for building leakage; Energy Star appliances and low-e windows.
Part III tackles an air-quality issue by amending the Woodburning Ordinance to include five additional materials – garbage, paints, paint solvents, treated wood, and waste petroleum products – that are prohibited from being burned.
Councilor Michael Cadigan outlined the following benefits to having higher energy efficiency standards: saving money through lower energy bills for consumers and businesses and an overall reduction in the demand of energy; economic development via increased demand for energy-saving products and increase consumer spending on other goods and services which strengthen the local economy; and the protection of the public’s health by reducing air pollution.