Emily Zachery of D & R International provided members of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) with a report on the U.S. Energy Star program at IGMA’s Annual Meeting, which took place last week in Las Vegas. Zachery opened her presentation by commenting that D & R, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that administers the program, were glad IG certification had been adopted by NFRC. “We think this is really important for product quality,” Zachery said, adding, “We felt that was an important step forward.”

Currently EPA is working with NFRC to develop a blind verification testing program as part of a “renewed effort to enhance the Energy Star brand” by requiring verification testing of all products. “They’ve been working with EPA, EPA is very comfortable with the proposal they’ve put together and we’re looking forward to moving forward.” However, Zachery acknowledged that this post-manufacturer testing was a bit simpler when it came to picking a light bulb off the shelf of a hardware store, as opposed to a window. She did stress that a key in their research was to try to keep the program economical.

John Lewis with NFRC reiterated that same point when he summarized NFRC’s activities to IGMA members during the Technical Services Committee meeting. “We’re looking to find a balance [between] the increased cost of that program with the current costs,” Lewis said. He added, ‘We are in the process of developing that blind verification which will be presented to the board Wednesday afternoon.”

Zachery’s presentation also addressed Phase II of Energy Star’s revisions. EPA is looking to “develop a new U-factor and SHGC criteria that will really give us additional energy savings,” she said, using the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as a baseline. “Basically, IECC is our starting point, so IECC 2012 will be where we go from to figure out where we go next.”

Zachery said that EPA had considered, during its Phase I revisions, looking at orientation and shading. At present agency has found this doesn’t make sense to incorporate directly into the Energy Star program but will keep it under consideration in the future. The group also has decided at present not to make exemptions for impact or high-altitude installations. “In our research it seems products exist that make this less necessary … so essentially what we’ve decided to do here is let the industry come to us and say look this is a burden for us … here’s the data that shows why we can’t do this,” Zachery said.

Another item brought up during the last Energy Star revision was Life Cycle Assessment. Zachery said a number of people have expressed interest in seeing some sort of credit for a product’s recyclability at the end of its life. Zachery said EPA has worked on a different LCA that’s underway at the Athena Institute and recently got the results, but found them to be “not as helpful as we’d hoped.” Zachery said she thinks there’s a lot “longer way to go” than initially thought, so while LCA data will not be in this next revision, it will be coming.

Suggestions for installation requirements, too, have continued to come up, Zachery said. Her take was that it’s become “increasingly obvious” that it will be difficult to establish set installation requirements; instead EPA is looking at ways to increase consumer awareness of these issues by expanding content on websites and asking its partners to include install instructions with all products they supply.

Zachery touched briefly on commercial product considerations. “In terms of commercial, EPA has a commercial buildings program so they do not look at individual components in buildings. There has been some talk about the possibility of [developing] commercial criteria for light commercial applications … but that’s still in discussions,” Zachery said.


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