No Pain, No Gains: Through a Different Lens, Energy Star Version 7.0 Marks Opportunity

By Jessica Ferris

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

These are good mantras to have when preparing for the coming criteria revisions for the Energy Star program for windows, doors, and skylights. You may think this is just another move of the goalpost—and in many respects, it is—but is that such a bad thing?

The fact of the matter is Energy Star will once again be challenging door and window producers to step their games up to meet the new 7.0 specification by summer 2023. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released Draft 2 of the specification in February and gathered stakeholder comments through March 28, 2022. In response to Draft 1 comments, EPA conducted additional analyses to develop Draft 2. Draft 2 maintains the proposed prescriptive window criteria from Draft 1 but revises the proposed equivalent energy performance levels. Also of note, the sliding glass door criteria has moved away from the windows criteria established in Draft 1 only to be placed back with criteria for swinging doors. In doing so, the U-factor for all less than ½-lite doors was lowered to ≤ 0.25 from ≤ 0.28. A final draft is scheduled to be released any day now, with a final report out shortly thereafter. Version 7.0 will take effect 12 months after the issuance of the final report.

The Energy Star program for doors and windows dates back to 1998. Since that time it’s clear this voluntary labeling has had a significant impact, by incentivizing the fenestration industry as a whole to research, develop, and manufacture energy-efficient products. Just from a glazing perspective alone, the industry has gone from products with single-pane, clear glass to
double-pane insulating glass units (IGUs) with low-E, gas-fills, and high performing spacer systems, to current emerging technologies, such as dynamic glazing, vacuum insulating glass, aerogel-insulated IGUs, thin glass triple-pane units, and photovoltaic (PV) glass.

With each revision of the criteria, one of the impetuses EPA has for revising specifications includes when the market share of qualified products is high. It’s been well over six years since Version 6.0 came into play, and according to a Version 7.0 Criteria Analysis Report, the market share for products meeting 6.0 criteria has been over 70-80% for much of this period. This suggests that the current specification is widely achievable in the marketplace. Market share and other factors indicate it’s time to once again adjust the standards to align with Energy Star’s guiding principles for “effectively differentiating energy-efficient products and contributing significant energy savings nationwide.”

A Leading Role

Consumers have learned to look for the Energy Star label because they know the value and cost-savings of energy-efficient products. They appreciate the added perk of federal tax credits they receive when they buy certified products for their homes. Now more than ever, the threat of climate change has consumers seeking energy savings and ways to lower their carbon footprints. In the spirit of looking at it all from a positive perspective, the industry is in a unique position to continue its value proposition through product innovation while doing its part to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment. Door and window manufacturers can do so by taking on the challenge of Version 7.0.

Jessica Ferris is director of Codes and Standards for World Millwork Alliance.

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DWM Magazine

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