The View From Here
by Ric Jackson
July 23rd, 2018

2018: The Road So Far

Where does time go? We’re already a little over halfway through 2018, and what do we have to show for it? By many accounts, it has been a pretty rough six months with DOE and EPA program defunding threats to tariffs wars. But there has been some silver lining. Let’s take a look back.

  1. Energy Star lives on. Back in February, the fate of the program was up in the air as I asked the question: Will Energy Star Survive Again? It was widely covered by our trade media, and there were mixed reviews on whether it would really matter to our industry. The View from Here, and I stick to it, is that Energy Star is an effective sales tool recognized by consumers and is just a fraction of the EPA budget. I consider it a positive that the program has continued, despite some budget cuts.
  1. Residential green building is on the rise. As reported in one of my March blogs – Has Energy Efficiency Become an Expectation in New Construction? – the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported some encouraging statistics and projections that point toward continued growth of energy-efficient products in new homes. 44 percent of builders expect to build net-zero homes in the next two years? That’s a trend to capitalize on.
  1. The Better Buildings Initiative enjoys continued success. The Obama-era initiative aimed at improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings continues to grow. In my May blog, The Ongoing Success of the Better Buildings Initiative, I covered the program’s 2018 Progress Report, which showed participation has grown to include 900 organizations, representing 30 of the country’s Fortune 100 companies, 12 of the top 25 U.S. employers, 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing footprint and 13 percent of total commercial building space. Why has it continued to succeed, you ask? The short answer is its approach—using recognition and education programs in place of grants. The program has been so successful that it has become a model for the DOE and many of its projects. We’ve also seen a number of studies highlighting the benefits of green building beyond energy efficiency – such as tenant satisfaction and higher rents – that provide added incentive for creating sustainable commercial buildings.

Long story short, at a time when headlines are plagued by DOE and EPA budget cuts and trade wars, we can’t lose sight of the opportunities before us. In the background, green initiatives continue to grow momentum across the board. Progress continues and opportunities exist – we just have to keep our eyes wide open. For some inspiration on what could come, check out one of my blogs from early this year, The Window of the Future: Harnessing the Power of Glass.

So, what will the second half of 2018 bring? When it comes to government advocacy issues, The View from Here is that it will likely look quite different as our members of Congress poise themselves for re-election. As they say, only time will tell.

What’s your View? Email me directly at eric.jackson@quanex.com.

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