News Article
July 19, 2016

Mexico City Prioritizes Building Efficiency with New Regulations

mexico-city-skyline

Mexico City. Photo Credit: Kasper Christensen/Flickr

On June 17, Mexico City’s Environmental Ministry (SEDEMA), headed by Secretary of the Environment Tanya Müller García, announced the final publication of updated construction regulations for the city. The regulations include energy efficiency measures for new and retrofitted buildings and are part of a series of actions the local government is taking to build a more sustainable city by improving buildings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector.

The update will provide new Complementary Technical Standards to enable more energy-efficient buildings. The standards include guidance on materials for construction, equipment (electrical, plumbing, drainage, sewage, solar water heaters and efficient lighting and air conditioning) and design (building envelope and insulation). 

“The previous regulations didn’t take into account energy efficiency for buildings. With this new regulation and the Complementary Technical Standards, important topics like thermal insulation, solar-powered water heaters, efficient lighting, mechanical systems, thermal and optical features in glass, energy efficiency in pumping systems and elevators, are now addressed,” says Julia Martínez, Director, Economy, Environment and Climate Change at CTS EMBARQ Mexico.

With these new changes, both users and owners of new and retrofitted buildings meeting these guidelines will notice savings on their electricity bills. It is estimated that efficient buildings will reduce their energy usage by up to 20 percent.

Providing sustainable energy for all

In September 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Mexico City and its mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera, pledged to improve energy efficiency in buildings. WRI and other organizations have been supporting the city’s efficiency commitment through Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All) Building Efficiency Accelerator.

SE4All is a United Nations initiative which includes the aim to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. The Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) is a project of the SE4All initiative. As one of six Accelerators, the BEA’s public-private collaboration approach helps sub-national governments advance adoption of best-practice building policies and projects. The BEA’s global network of over 30 businesses, NGOs and international organizations currently provides tools, expertise, technical capabilities and support to over 20 cities seeking to accelerate and transform markets to deliver energy efficiency benefits to their citizens.

CTS EMBARQ Mexico and the Building Efficiency Initiative of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities worked with many other organizations and agencies in Mexico, including Casedi, SENER and CONUEE, to support the adoption of efficiency components of the city’s construction regulations. They also contributed to the development of the national Energy Conservation Code for Mexico, which enabled a solid foundation for Mexico City’s Complementary Technical Standards. These activities were supported by the UK Prosperity Fund and the Danish Energy Agency.

“The updated building codes are very important regulations that highlight good practice for the construction of new and refurbished buildings,” says Martínez. “The next step the city should take is strengthening the capacity of decision-makers and officials responsible for authorizing new construction as well as of architects, engineers and other construction professionals.”

In addition to the regulations for private buildings, Mexico City is also leading by example. In the coming months, SEDEMA will audit four public buildings in the capital, the funding for which was recently approved. This is the first step toward refurbishing them into energy-efficient buildings.