In February 2011, new building codes in New Mexico that will reduce energy consumption for residents and businesses by at least 20 percent were published. The codes allow for an average net savings of nearly $14 per month ($167 per year) for each homeowner, which adds up to $66 million dollars saved over a ten-year period throughout the state. The new codes will also improve property values for homeowners and lower barriers to homeownership for low-income New Mexicans.
If Governor Susana Martinez had her way, these codes would have never been published.
The codes were initiated in 2009 by the state of New Mexico after a meeting with Shrayas Jatkar, Sierra Club’s clean energy organizer in New Mexico, and the Southwest Energy Effiency Project. The Club’s grassroots army called and emailed hundreds of local citizens, ensuring the New Mexico Construction Industries Commission adopted the new, energy-saving building codes in 2010.
The Governor delayed this.
Upon hearing about the Governor’s executive order, the Club’s legal team mounted a quick response. The Sierra Club and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed separate petitions stating that: 1) the New Mexico Governor does not have authority to overturn or delay implementation of a decision made by a state Board or Commission and; 2) the State Records Center Administrator has a duty to publish any rule that has been filed. The Supreme Court agreed, and ruled that the Governor had overstepped her legal authority when she stopped the publication of the building codes duly adopted last year. As a result, the Sierra Club dropped its lawsuit and the state published the cost-saving building codes.
“These codes will save New Mexicans money, slow climate change, and conserve the state’s celebrated natural resources,” said Jatkar. “This is a victory for us all.”