The incumbent Republican governor of New Mexico has suffered a major setback in her efforts to overturn green building regulations introduced by her Democratic predecessor.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals overturned a decision made by the state’s Construction Industries Commission in 2011 to extensively amend the green building regulations implemented by the previous governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.
Current governor Susana Martinez sought to water down Richardson’s green building requirements after assuming office at the outset of 2011 on the grounds that they incurred excessive costs for both developers and property owners.
In issuing its decision, the Court of Appeals said the Construction Industries Commission had failed to provide sufficient grounds for amendment of Richardson’s green building codes, and ordered that the case be sent back to the commission for re-examination and another round of voting.
During his time in office Democratic governor Bill Richardson placed strong emphasis on the expansion of renewable energy and green industries in New Mexico.
Richardson implemented a state-wide program to foster the development of clean energy and concomitant job creation, with the explicit goal of becoming a key centre of the solar power industry in North America.
In 2006 Richardson passed an executive order requiring that all new state buildings and remodels greater than 15,000 square feet in area meet the requirements of LEED Silver certification.
The green building codes subsequently introduced by Richardson were touted by his administration as the most environmentally friendly in the United States.
While detractors of Richardson’s green building regulations say the extra costs they incur will act as a drag on growth in the local construction sector, supporters point to the negligible impact of similar requirements in the state of California, as well as the economic benefits reaped by sustainability and efficiency measures over the long-term.
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center hailed the decision made by the Court of Appeals, saying that the current administration’s efforts to soften Richardson’s building codes were not in accordance with the law.