The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) caused some controversy in the fenestration business when it was launched in 2009. How did they come up with the performance numbers? Why are all climates and regions being treated the same? Will such a large investment make an impact in the long term?

In some ways, it seems like the scramble for window manufacturers to hit .30/.30 to take advantage of potential new business happened just yesterday, but in reality, it’s been six years. And now we have a chance to look at whether it was worthwhile and to start answering some of the lingering questions.

On November 4, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released a report detailing the effectiveness of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) that was funded by the ARRA. Some of the key findings included:

  • For every EECBG dollar spent, program participants received $1.76 in bill savings over the lifetime of the measures installed (at a 2.7 percent discount rate).
  • Lifetime cost savings: $5.2 billion of total cumulative savings on energy bills.
  • More than 62,900 direct, indirect, and induced jobs were created or retained. This is equivalent to about one job per $36,000 in EECBG dollars invested.

The multiyear, peer-reviewed study was led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, providing the most comprehensive, detailed analysis conducted to date for the program. (View more here).

The View from Here

Even though there were many questions and doubts that such a huge expenditure would have any long-term effect on our industry, it’s difficult to argue that the program was successful. At the end of the day, consumer awareness of energy-efficient windows grew and many members of the fenestration market benefitted financially – not to mention the broader benefits that were listed in the EERE report.

It is not likely that tax credits of this level will ever be repeated; rather, the federal government is more likely to invest in local and state initiatives that promote energy efficiency. However, The View from Here is that reports, like this one, will continue to reinforce the importance of high-performance, energy-efficient building products.

What’s your View? Email me directly at Eric.Jackson@Quanex.com.

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