In a close 219-212 vote, the House approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act, just before taking a break for the July 4th recess. Maybe the break will be a good time for our nation’s lawmakers to go off and reflect upon what really makes sense in terms of moving our country forward in terms of our energy situation in the upcoming critical years. And maybe, the break in the action will give our nation’s senators time to actually read this massive 1,300 page bill before they decide on how to restructure it before passing anything like it.Don’t laugh! In a survey conducted by CNS News last Friday, the same day of the vote, most Congress members admitted they did not even have time to read the entire 1,300 pages of legislation before casting their votes! Many commented that they were aware of the major goals of the legislation, but by not reading the bill in its entirety, they did not fully understand the provisions for putting the goals into practice. Hmmmm, we have seen this before, have we not? Remember my blog on 30-30 vision?

One of the major provisions of this bill is what is known as Cap & Trade, or Emissions Trading. The government will put a cap on total greenhouse gases that will be permitted and companies will trade allowances or permits to emit a specific amount of pollutants. The net effect on global warming is highly controversial and not even all of the scientists agree on this one. However, one thing is for certain. It will increase the cost of energy for the average American. Believe it or not, that is something it is actually designed to do! The theory is that by feeling the pain of higher energy costs, we will want to run out and invest in new technologies, like more energy-efficient windows, for example, to reduce our escalating energy bills. However, how will the average American be able to afford to do this when we will be shelling out bigger bucks for our gas and electric bills? This new legislation comes at a time when we are trying to get our economy back into a growth mode, and reducing the average American’s disposable income does not sound to me like the formula for economic growth.

Now, the bill does have some sensible goodies in it that could positively impact the window industry. It contains a section that would establish a national building energy code and steadily raise the bar relative to the existing standards, which are the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) level for residential buildings and the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 for commercial buildings. The targets start off at 30 percent above the existing levels and go to 75 percent above by 2029 (2030 for commercial buildings).

With respect to ENERGY STAR, the bill would incorporate a rating system into ENERGY STAR products to provide consumers with measures of cost effectiveness and payback. This will help homeowners to make some real “dollars and cents” out of the ENERGY STAR criteria!

A provision is included that would create a Building Energy Performance Labeling Program, mandating that new homes receive an energy performance audit prior to sale or financing. This is something that could finally get builders to become more interested in the energy performance of the windows they are buying as opposed to the top three things they currently focus upon which are price, price and price.

The bill also provides for energy improvements in the retrofit market. It calls for a Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program to facilitate energy efficient retrofits for existing residential and commercial buildings. Once again, these types of legislative pieces make energy-efficient “sense” for the country while making “cents” for the window industry!

And finally, in true Obama fashion, the bill, while designed to raise energy costs for the average American at the same time is concerned about affordability of energy for the low income families! Therefore, it also includes the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act, aka, the GREEN ACT (HR 2336). The first hearing on the Green Act focused upon “the importance of providing green affordable housing especially for the low income families.” The second hearing was held to address the concerns of HUD, and the low income families it serves, both of which are severely impacted by high energy costs.”

CLICK HERE to see the video of the 2nd hearing. Maybe, at this point, everybody was just thoroughly confused and therefore disinterested, or maybe back at the office trying to cram in the 1,300 pages, because in addition to the people presenting, I am only counting 2 in attendance!

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