So, it turns out that New Mexico’s Construction Industries Division (CID) is going to scale back its proposed building codes due to industry concerns. No more mandatory sprinklers; no more demanding that if 50 percent of an existing building is remodeled, the entire structure must be upgraded to the new codes.
That’s great, but the CID wants to move forward with a policy that the new state regulations must be 10 percent stricter than new national model codes (whatever that means). Of course, folks from the CID claim that this increased efficiency is all for free because customers will benefit from less energy usage, but I remain unconvinced.
Regardless, it seems to me that the CID has overstepped its bounds by dealing with energy usage and sprinklers in the first place. Building codes should be there to protect the public’s safety from buildings that are dangerous or will fall down, not to mandate the latest environmental regulations or sprinklers.
After all, shouldn’t you be able to build your building and experience savings without some bureaucrat — waiting in the wings with the force of law — telling you how to build? Clearly, a horribly inefficient building will be an energy sink and would not be a popular choice in the market, but shouldn’t building buyers and tenants have that choice? The same applies to sprinklers. If sprinklers are a major benefit, the insurance companies will price policies in such a way as to make it worth our while — much like those anti-theft devices on cars — why do we need the state looking over our shoulders?
I say, get the CID back to making sure basic safety measures are in place. Leave energy efficiency and the deluxe sprinkler systems up to the free market lest they completely kill New Mexico’s building industry.