A U.S. district court has upheld a decision that Albuquerque, N.M., violated federal preemption rules when it included higher HVAC efficiency standards in its 2007 building codes.

The Jan. 25 ruling by Judge Martha Vazquez was a victory for the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute and other industry groups, which claimed federal law governing the manufacture of heating and cooling equipment overrode ability of the city to set its own performance standards.

“We are gratified that Judge Vazquez agreed with AHRI that regardless of intentions, the law must be followed,” said AHRI attorney Joseph Mattingly. “Our member companies produce very energy-efficient equipment and are at the forefront of popular efforts to curb energy use, but we have maintained all through this case that federal law is very clear, and we are happy that the judge agreed with us. We look forward to continuing to provide highly efficient heating, cooling, commercial refrigeration, and water heating equipment to people in Albuquerque and around the world.”

The AHRI is a trade association representing most of the major makers of HVAC equipment. Association President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Yurek said Albuquerque acted prematurely.

“AHRI is not opposed to using building codes to better enable installation of highly efficient equipment in new construction,” Yurek said. “In fact, we negotiated an agreement with energy-efficiency advocates that would allow states and localities to use building codes to do just that, but we need Congress to pass legislation to make that happen. We are working very hard on Capitol Hill to ensure this gets done this year.”