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Recent Trend in Green Buildings Laws: Potential Preemption of Green Building and Whether Retrofitting Existing Buildings Will Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Save the Economy

Driven by local government regulations, green building for civic, residential and commercial projects has been sweeping the country, and especially California. This article discusses the potential impacts of economic factors and federal laws on the green building industry.


“Recently, a federal district court in New Mexico issued one of the first court decisions regarding the federal preemption of local green building ordinances.  In Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) v. City of Albuquerque, the court found that the City of Albuquerque was preempted from enacting efficiency HVAC regulations by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA).  The court found that the EPCA is a “long-standing federal statute governing the energy efficiency of certain HVAC and water heating products and [that it] expressly preempts state regulation of these products. . . .”  At issue in AHRI v. City of Albuquerque was the City’s Energy Conservation Code, which sought to increase energy efficiency requirements for multi-family and commercial buildings by thirty percent by adopting regulations stricter than federal requirements.  The city failed in its argument that the multiple performance-based options for compliance offered in the code sidestep preemption.”

Click on the link to read the full article on “Recent Trend in Green Buildings Laws…


Urban Lawyer
Vol. 41, No. 3
Summer 2009
published by American Bar Association