ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) hosted a second town hall meeting for Albuquerque HVAC contractors and distributors to discuss the latest industry efforts to work with the city regarding its controversial Energy Conservation Codes signed into law in January. Eight wholesale distributor members of the Heating, Airconditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) that supply the Albuquerque market - Doc Savage Supply, Contractors Heating & Supply, Albuquerque Winair, Hercules Industries, Burke Engineering, Johnstone Supply, Perry Supply, and Gorman Industries - sponsored the meeting and have been prime drivers of the industry’s efforts to address the new codes.

The Albuquerque Energy Codes attempt to raise HVAC equipment standards within the city limits on all new and retrofit commercial and residential applications to 15 SEER air conditioning equipment and 90 percent AFUE heating equipment. ACCA and HARDI note that this violates the preemption doctrine that restricts states and local governments from setting energy efficiency standards in excess of the federal standard. Unless the city of Albuquerque obtains a waiver of preemption from the U.S. Department of Energy, it cannot enforce the Energy Codes. The current federal minimum standards are 13 SEER and 78 percent AFUE, respectively.

The new codes were originally set to go into effect on April 1, 2008, but due to pressure from the local HVAC community, their residential and commercial customers, and HVAC industry manufacturer, distributor, and contractor national associations, the city pushed back the effective date to July 1, 2008 to provide time to potentially amend the codes.

Representatives of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), ACCA and HARDI, along with local contractors and distributors, met with city leaders and the mayor’s office to discuss the problems they perceived with the Energy Codes. Along with the federal preemption issues, contractors and distributors are concerned that the new Energy Code will have the unintended consequence of pricing new heating and cooling equipment beyond the reach of most consumers due to higher installation costs. At the same time, contractors are unsure that enforcement will stop illegal installations of cheaper, less efficient equipment by unlicensed contractors.

Over 100 local HVAC professionals attended the latest local HVACR community town hall meeting. Attendees were encouraged to hear that city officials have indicated a willingness to work with the industry to improve the codes and several members of the city council have expressed support for the industry’s efforts.

Publication date:04/07/2008