Despite a global history of policies being put in place to mitigate pollution and the effects on human health, responses to new policies and regulations never change.

Following the Great Smog of London in 1952, the Committee on Air Pollution was formed to look at the problem. In 1954, the committee reported that the burning of coal was a significant cause of the pollution and recommended using other, cleaner sources of fuel. Responses were suggested the change “[would strike] a damaging blow against the economy of electricity development” (because coal was burned to create electricity) and the committee was criticized for not considering all the economic implications. Due to resistance, it took an additional two years to introduce the Clean Air Act in 1956.

California started requiring emissions standards on cars in the 1960s and 70s to combat air pollution, particularly in Los Angeles. At about the same time, pollution from cars was getting called out on the national stage, with Richard Nixon calling cars “our worst polluter of air” in his 1970 State of the Union address—the same year he established the Environmental Protection Agency. We can all imagine the reaction from the auto industry: arguments about cost, feasibility, impact on the industry, and so forth.

Cities, states and countries are getting tired of waiting for industries to react. Each year the trend towards more frequent and more severe weather events increases. Summers bring more heatwaves and wildfires. Winters bring freezes to areas not accustomed to them and dangerously cold temperatures to others. The resulting demand is adding to already stressed utility grids and utility companies are behind pushes to make buildings more efficient. In addition, research increasingly shows that factors that contribute to building efficiency don’t just affect cost and comfort, they can also affect health.

As most of you are aware, as members of the fenestration industry and readers of this magazine, Colorado will begin requiring Energy Star-rated windows and doors in all buildings under three stories starting in January 2026, putting our industry on the defensive in much the same way the coal and auto industries were in response to regulation, but with one important difference: those pushing for such changes are actively inviting those in the industry to be a part of the solution.

While there will be challenges, policies similar to the law in Colorado can be viewed as opportunities rather than threats.

At the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) 2023 Fall Membership Meeting in College Park, Md., Rick Dunn, senior product manager, Emerging Technologies, at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), presented information on organizations, such as the Partnership for Advanced Window Solutions (PAWS) and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). They’re eager to work with manufacturers to ensure that progress takes their concerns into account while still moving forward. (The full presentation can be reviewed here.)

“PAWS is working to support the legislation [in Colorado] by engaging with window and insulating glass unit manufacturers, providing data and analysis that support technical pathways and more clearly articulate the benefits and costs associated with the new law,” said Dunn.

Regarding the Colorado legislation, Dunn explained the situation to NFRC’s meeting attendees: “You have a state trying to address a climate crisis and they are trying to get the industry to promote better windows. They are not going to wait for the industry to come and help them, they are going to mandate it.”

He continued, “There are a lot of challenges with taking an Energy Star Version 7 window and mandating that as required in residential new construction. Most of those challenges, if not all of them, have solutions and the people that have those solutions are also in this room.”
Dunn concluded, “The real opportunity is how can the industry get behind it and say, ‘Yes, there are some challenges, and we have some concerns, but let’s figure out how to make it work together to solve this problem.’”

As an industry, we have a chance to adjust our reactions by joining the conversations rather than relying on arguments that are either exaggerated, surmountable, or that reiterate someone else’s flawed view. We can gather data that disproves the arguments used against us. We can become part of the solution rather than a perceived problem.

The NFRC is committed to educating people on the benefits of high-performance fenestration products. NFRC is also committed to sharing the information that we have and helping those in the industry to increase the availability and demand for high-performing products that make buildings more comfortable and healthier for everyone.

To become a part of the conversation, please contact NFRC staff at communications@nfrc.org, contact PAWS at info@paws.energy, and contact NEAA at eolson@neea.org.

Here are the two resources shared by Rick Dunn in his presentation:
Triple-Pane Windows with a U-factor of 0.22: A Better Builder Value?
Why Glazing Matters So Much More Than Insulation

Leave a Reply

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