DWM is currently running a poll that asks this question: If Energy Star Goes Away, Would Privatization Be Okay?  Well, I clicked on the link to register my vote and check the status of the results so far, and I must say that I am somewhat surprised that the results, as of this writing, are running in favor of letting Energy Star fall by the wayside.

The results of this survey really surprise me because I remember what it was like marketing door and window systems before the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and Energy Star came along. I started in the fenestration industry a long time ago –in 1986. Back then, I was working with door and window companies to promote new technologies, materials and components that would improve the overall energy efficiency of their products. I remember what it was like working with manufacturers who wanted to invest in such superior technologies only to fall short when it came to convincing the end users of their ultimate value. My customers, who were forward-thinking manufacturers willing to invest in superior technologies, would become frustrated when their competitors, who did not invest in these state-of-the-art technologies, advertised products with U-values supposedly every bit as good or even lower.

My phone would ring off the hook (yes, we had those types of phones back then) with my vinyl window manufacturers expressing deep frustration as they lost customers to other window manufacturers still marketing non-thermally broken aluminum-framed windows made with aluminum IG spacers vs. their window systems made with the more thermally efficient vinyl frames made with warm edge spacer systems. What their competitors were doing was reporting the center-of-glass U-values in their advertisements as opposed to the overall window U-values. You can put a thermally efficient IG unit into a thermally efficient vinyl window and you can put the same IG unit into a thermally inefficient aluminum window and they will both exhibit the same center of glass U-value. However, the true energy performance of these two window systems is vastly different.

Now, in today’s world with what NFRC and the Energy Star program have accomplished, U-values are fairly and properly reported as the overall window U-value, which is a weighted average of the center-of-glass U-value, the edge-of-glass U-value and the frame U-value. But before NFRC and Energy Star came along, a standard method of measuring and reporting U-values did not exist. Therefore, reporting and advertising U-values in any manner you wished to suit your marketing program was fair game. The result was misinformation at the consumer level and frustration among many door and window marketing executives who felt like they were playing in a game without rules.

So why would we, as an industry, want to go back to a situation where window manufacturers can report thermal efficiency or condensation resistance in whatever manner they see fit? It seems to me that there is too much temptation to report results that benefit the window manufacturer as opposed to the consumer. Also, as door and window technologies are advanced, new performance levels are achieved and new test methods are developed, why would our industry not want a system in place that makes all manufacturers adhere to the same test methods and report results to the consumer in the same manner? It benefits our industry as a whole. It provides a greater degree of confidence at the consumer level when comparisons are being made, and it enables consumers to act in a more decisive manner when selecting replacement door and window systems that suit their needs.

So let’s hear it from some of the poll respondents who do not favor the privatization of the Energy Star Program in the event that the government cuts its funding. What are your concerns about privatization, and where do you propose we go from here?

Feel free to respond right here or write to me at JimPlav@gmail.com

4 Comments

  1. Why is it better if the government runs it?
    USGBC (LEED) and the NFRC are independent organizations. Let’s see if Energy Star can stand on its own.

  2. The poll question seems misleading. A yes vote could indicate a support for privatization or total elimination.

    Better phrasing may be “If Energy Star is cut from the government’s budget, would you be in favor of privatization?”

    The available answers would be “Yes, privatize it to continue the program”, or “No, eliminate the program entirely.”

  3. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for the feedback. We’ve adjusted the responses accordingly.

  4. @Terry Newcomb

    why is it better if the private sector runs it? That is one of those pervasive and misleading myths of this country. Private sector is always better. Abundant evidence to the contrary notwithstanding

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *