I had a conversation recently with a consultant working on the Department of Energy (DOE) Highly Insulating (R-5) Window and low-E Storm Window Volume Purchase Program.  The purpose of this program is to facilitate volume purchases of highly energy efficient windows.  The U-factor equivalent of an R-5 is .2, significantly lower than the .3 U-factor required for the tax credit.  The goal of this program is to bring volume buyers together with window manufacturers, creating a virtual market for high volumes of energy efficient windows.  By creating high volume buying demand, the intention of the DOE is to encourage manufacturers who qualify for the program to manufacture windows that would be prohibitively expensive to produce in smaller quantities.

As part of this process, Jason Bogovich, the consultant with whom I spoke, has been conducting a grassroots effort to reach out to homebuilders, schools, state and municipal governments, weatherization agencies, architects, realtors and housing authorities.  They’ve conducted numerous presentations to raise awareness of the Volume Purchase Program and the ways in which manufacturers can become involved.

In mid-December, the DOE will request that manufacturers submit proposals for participating in the program over the ensuing 60-day period.  Manufacturers that wish to participate will submit window descriptions, sizes and corresponding price points.  They will also need to demonstrate that they meet the R-5 requirements.  Manufacturers that are accepted into the program may be given the chance to submit additional products that qualify.  Products accepted under the program will receive a seal of approval from the DOE and will be included on a DOE website to facilitate searches on the part of volume window purchasers.  Among these purchasers is the Community Economic Development Association of Cook County here in Chicago.  This Association conducts the largest weatherization program in the country and has the potential to singlehandedly direct the purchase of thousands of windows. 

There may or may not be another opportunity to become approved under this volume purchase program in 2011. That means that it behooves manufacturers with qualifying products to submit their proposals now. This is just another example of energy efficiency separating the have’s from the have not’s. Companies that weren’t able to meet the .30 requirement will certainly be excluded from this program as well. Meanwhile, companies that place a strong emphasis on energy efficiency will continue to see markets opening up for them.

I would strongly encourage eligible companies to take part in this program and have written a letter of support to the DOE to that effect. In a soft market like this, “volume purchase” should be music to our ears. Jason Bogovich can be contacted with questions regarding the Volume Purchase Program at JBogovich@energetics.com.

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  1. Don’t forget about the low-e storm window portion of this volume procurement plan. There are many homes in weatherization programs that would not qualify for new replacement windows (R5 or otherwise), but can significantly benefit from low-e storm windows. This is a new market opportunity.

  2. The comment in this article that “The goal of this program is to bring volume buyers together with window manufacturers” may be somewhat misleadng. From the recently submitted Q&A on this program, it stated that “The “volume” created in this program is intended to be derived from the aggregation of buyers organized and directed to the qualified vendors who participate, NOT NECESSARILY from the volume of a single purchase.”

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