A plan to “closeout or transfer” the popular Energy Star program as part of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal has sparked an advocacy effort that’s uniting industrial and environmental groups.

A letter signed by 78 companies, associations and environmental organizations was sent to leaders in both houses of Congress this week urging lawmakers to save Energy Star and maintain its funding at current levels. The program currently spends about $57 million a year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) — and the letter’s signees say it’s an investment that’s paid for itself many times over in energy savings.

“Today, Energy Star enjoys brand awareness of about 90 percent, which makes it the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency,” the letter reads. “In 2015 alone, American consumers and businesses saved over $34 billion with the help of Energy Star. Since 1992, Energy Star has helped families and businesses save $430 billion on utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.7 billion metric tons. Through brand recognition, information and positive publicity, the Energy Star program has provided the catalyst for many consumers, homeowners, businesses, and state and local governments to invest in energy efficiency.”

Last week, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) sent a letter to new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to preserve the program. More than 800 firms and organizations signed it.

“Energy Star’s voluntary third party product certifications are important to consumers, and also serve to assure designers that the equipment they specify will meet important performance goals,” the letter reads. “In fact, in many jurisdictions, energy codes and standards have been adopted that would be difficult or impossible to meet without the use of EPA benchmarking tools and data. Energy Star building ratings also provide trusted outside validation of performance claims for prospective buyers and tenants.”

Additionally, the Environmental Defense Fund has launched what The Hill calls a “six-figure ad campaign” in support of Energy Star. The TV spots will air in Washington, D.C., and California.

Associations aligned with the door and window industry have been more muted in their support for Energy Star.

“While we believe there could be programmatic improvements, the Energy Star program has been very successful in promoting high-efficiency windows, doors and skylights that have saved consumers billions over the year,” Window and Door Manufacturers Assocation (WDMA) president and CEO Michael O’Brien told DWM two weeks ago. “We will be working with the administration and Congress to work through these budget issues over the coming months.”

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), which provides the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient ratings used in the Energy Star program for doors, windows and skylights, also told DWM that it hopes the program survives.

“As a government-backed program, Energy Star has significant credibility with U.S. consumers,” said NFRC CEO Deb Callahan. “It helps them make sound decisions when purchasing windows, doors and skylights intended to reduce their energy bills, and we encourage its ongoing operation.”

A recent informal poll on the DWM website shows that about 46 percent of respondents think eliminating Energy Star would be a bad idea, while 42 percent think it would be a good idea. About 12 percent are unsure.

About 300 fenestration companies are listed as partners on the Energy Star website for doors, windows and skylights. Most heavily promote their participation in the program in marketing materials and press releases.

The White House’s 2018 budget proposal, unveiled in early March, would dismantle or privatize the Energy Star program as part of a 31-percent funding cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (EPA administers the Energy Star program.) The plan would take Energy Star’s budget down to just $5 million in 2018 “for the closeout or transfer of all the climate protection voluntary partnership programs.”

1 Comment

  1. ES has out lived it’s need. Let the market dictate energy savings. RIP ES.

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