A group of HVAC equipment makers, contractors and distributors is challenging an attempt by Albuquerque, N.M., to impose its own equipment efficiency standards.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, the Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, and 11 local HVAC distributors and contractors filed suit July 3 in the 10th U.S. District Court. The suit alleges that Albuquerque lacks the right to set its own standards for residential and commercial heating and air-conditioning equipment under federal law.

Albuquerque passed an ordinance last year that requires air conditioners installed in new or existing structures to have at least a 14 seasonal energy-efficiency rating - one point higher than the federal minimum - and residential furnaces to have a 90 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency rating. Current federal law requires a 78 percent efficiency rating.

Federal regulations generally ban state and local regulation of the energy efficiency of these products, unless a waiver has been granted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The suit says the city of Albuquerque has not asked for a waiver.