If you’ve followed my blog over the last year, you know I’m a strong advocate for participating in conversations that will impact our industry. After all, we only have ourselves to blame if we are unhappy with an outcome we didn’t take the time to help shape. That’s why I am happy to see that the EPA is making it easier than ever for you to voice your opinions as its Energy Star Version 7.0 gets underway.

Hopefully many of you were able to attend the December 12 industry stakeholder meeting, whether online or in person. One of the key themes throughout was a desire by the EPA to increase participation. If you happened to miss this first meeting, allow me to catch you up with my top five takeaways from the day:

  1. Increased Transparency and Confidentiality

One commitment the EPA has made is to increase transparency, such as how and where data being used was collected. They took it even a step further by asking stakeholders to chime in on what other data would be useful and the best methods for collection.

Additionally, they addressed concerns over confidentiality – none of us want to put our proprietary information at risk and the EPA recognizes that. Sound measures are in place for your protection because without your data, it can be very difficult to assess cost effectiveness and market penetration. Look at this as an excellent opportunity to provide confidential data and compare yourself to others in the industry without risk.

  1. Review Process: Sunsetting

The EPA outlined the revision process used by Energy Star for most categories, including timing for reviews (2-3 years), how to revise a specification based on guiding principles, such as national energy savings, cost effectiveness, product availability and when a specification should be sunset.

Interestingly, this is the first time I have seen a reference to sunsetting specifications. It shows that the EPA recognizes that there are limits to certain performance characteristics, and if or when building code reaches the same level of performance, there is not much value in a recognition program like Energy Star.

  1. How to Measure Cost Effectiveness

Probably the most controversial topic in the Version 6.0 revision process was measuring cost effectiveness. Can window manufacturers isolate the real incremental costs of improving energy efficiency? How should incremental costs be evaluated against efficiency improvements and energy savings? What is a reasonable payback period for the consumer?

The EPA is asking for your input on all of these questions. I think we all know that today’s consumers are much savvier when it comes to investing in home improvements, and they are constantly looking for credible information to help them make the comparisons.

  1. New Technologies, New Challenges

The EPA also identified challenges for future performance criteria and new technologies, such as dynamic products, that currently do not have standardized measurement and reporting criteria and are asking for your input on that as well.

  1. How to Participate

Previous version revisions began with data presented to support target performance improvements. The EPA is taking an extra step to explain the process and collect feedback on issues and concerns uncovered during the version 6 revision process. There are several ways to participate, including:

The View of What’s to Come.

So, what can we expect with ENERGY STAR Version 7.0 for doors, windows and Skylights?

It will likely be late 2017 before data on market penetration and cost analysis can be collected for Version 6.0 (due to the delayed 2016 Northern Zone implementation). But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be progress sooner.

The EPA laid out a tentative timetable with a framework document sometime mid-2015, which will not contain any performance criteria, but rather a process for collecting and analyzing data. Clearly changes will only be made if the data supports them meeting the guiding principles criteria. Hopefully the process will work more smoothly with less uncertainty so we can all plan for our businesses.

The View from Here is that you should get involved early to ensure the best outcome for all involved. Start by checking out the full presentation from the Industry Stakeholders meeting here.

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