HARDI Disputes Albuquerque's 15 SEER Mandate

Local jurisdiction is raising the temperatures of HVAC contractors in Albuquerque, NM.

Beginning April 1, contractors will be mandated to install 15 SEER air conditioning and 90% AFUE or higher systems for all new commercial and residential new construction, remodels, and replacements.

The Heating, Airconditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) recently hosted a meeting of more than 80 Albuquerque distributor and contractor HVAC professionals to discuss the codes.

The requirements exceed the federal minimum set by the Department of Energy, and therefore the City of Albuquerque must obtain a waiver of federal preemption from the Department before attempting to enforce the Energy Codes. At the same time, the Energy Codes create a nearly unenforceable regulation that tips the playing field against complying contractors and distributors.

In separate letters, the national organizations representing HVAC distributors, contractors, and manufactures notified the city last month about the code’s legal contradictions and their severe impacts on the HVACR industry.

To date, HARDI and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) have received no direct response from the city of Albuquerque which added to the uncertainties looming with the April 1 enforcement date. In response to local distributor’s requests, HARDI hosted a joint distributor-contractor summit of more than 80 local professionals. The meeting reviewed local reactions and interpretations of the new codes and clarified exactly how the codes violated federal preemption laws governing national equipment efficiency standards.

During the Albuquerque meeting, HARDI established four general principles, unanimously agreed upon by the local HVAC community, to use when engaging local officials in future code revisions. Albuquerque HVAC distributors and contractors uniformly agreed that:

• Energy supplies will be unable to meet future demand if practical and effective energy efficiency practices aren’t put into place now
• Any energy efficiency initiatives must encourage and support quality installation practices such as the ACCA/ANSI Quality Installation Standards
• While impossible to effectively implement if overly prescriptive and without industry’s technical involvement, whole-system approaches to building efficiency are valuable and necessary methods for establishing new codes
• Demand-side incentive programs are ultimately the most effective method for driving energy efficiency investments and upgrades.

HARDI and ACCA will organize a local task force to work with city officials and efficiency advocates to provide market and technical expertise towards the development of new, more effective and federally-compliant energy conservation codes. Visit www.hardinet.org for additional information.

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