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Industry Reps Speak before DOE Concerning Energy Star

Several industry representatives spoke before representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) on Friday, October 26, about the upcoming changes to the criteria for Energy Star® windows. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

Among these representatives were Margaret Webb, executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), John Lewis, technical director for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and Mike Fischer representing the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA).

Fischer, along with some WDMA members, presented before the DOE about the best way to move the program forward and presented some specific recommendations including:
  • Short-term revisions that capitalize on today’s best available windows, with an incremental increase in efficiency that will shift the program to the best of the best.
  • Increases in energy efficiency that require a shift in product technology should be carefully planned, and with target performance requirements that will allow the industry to work on product development and necessary investment in capital. WDMA believes a five-year period between the next two Energy Star revisions is the most appropriate balance.
  • WDMA believes that adoption and enforcement of existing model codes, particularly the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) will also move new construction ahead and result in reduced energy use. WDMA urges DOE to continue working with states on adoption of the most up-to-date energy codes.
  • The most significant opportunity for energy savings through windows is in the replacement market. The inventory of single-pane windows in today's housing stock represents almost half of all windows. Conversion of these single-pane windows will have the biggest impact on energy savings.

WDMA urged the DOE to consider the balance between energy efficiency and the price points that will occur as a result of new window designs and technologies. The economic benefit of window replacements has to make sense.

“If the math doesn't work, consumers will not have the motivation to replace their existing single-pane windows with Energy Star products,” said Fischer. “It is important that the program include incentives like the current tax rebate program if we are to have the greatest possible effect on energy consumption in the United States.”

He also told DWM magazine, “We have significant alignment on key issues. Not all details are resolved but overall we are confident that the voice of our members will be heard.”

AAMA also represents the views of door and window manufacturers and they spoke before the DOE as well. Lewis said the DOE’s main interest was how AAMA members responded to the group’s initial letter to industry stakeholders about the upcoming changes to the program.

“We took the letter from the DOE [to stakeholders] and distributed it to the membership; we discussed this at length at our Orlando conference,” said Lewis. “Members generally agreed that updating the Energy Star requirements was something that needed to happen, but AAMA’s message to the DOE was that we wanted to be sure that this is done in kind of a phased approach, and that any of the changes to be implemented would be done in a manner so that a total re-design of the fenestration systems was not required.”

Overall, Lewis says the meeting was successful as far as he was concerned.

“[The DOE representatives] were quite interested in AAMA’s position, and we got some feedback as far as the timelines, and some of their thoughts on a phased-in approach,” he added. “We suggested some options that piqued their interest, and we’ll have to see where this goes. We stressed that we looked forward to working with DOE on the revised Energy Star program; I think it was a positive meeting.”

IGMA Weighs In
Webb provided an overview for DOE on IG certification and the various roles it plays, and also presented information regarding IGMA’s 25-year field correlation study.

Along with representing IGMA, Webb also presented on behalf of the Insulating Glass Industry Durability Advisory Group (IGIDAG), a group that IGMA administers.

“There had been some back and forth between IGIDAG and DOE and I addressed the questions that we could and some of the information I couldn’t provide because it doesn’t exist,” she says. “They wanted an exact number of windows that are manufactured without certified insulating glass units [IGUs].”

Webb says this number is one that hasn’t been discovered as far as she is aware.

“The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) conducted a survey of their members. They sent out 400 surveys and got 106 back and at that point they estimated that 40 percent of manufacturers don’t purchase or fabricate certified IGUs. But [the survey] doesn’t consider volume of the manufacturers.”

She notes that most large window manufacturers do utilize certified IGUs, and if they’re the ones that responded to the survey that they do—then the percentage of total windows that utilize certified IGUs (as opposed to manufacturers) could be much higher.

“Typically we find large window manufacturers do use certified IGUs and the survey didn’t differentiate between residential and commercial,” Webb says. “Most of the large residential manufacturers do use certified IGUs, [but] smaller companies may not.”

She says IGIDAG has requested this information from the National Fenestration Rating council (NFRC), but hasn’t received a response. (The NFRC did not present at this meeting.)

Webb says the DOE was also looking for information about the failure rate of non-certified IGUs, but that there are currently no field studies available about non-certified IGUs.

The DOE was looking for information on the energy loss of IGUs that fail and was hoping that IGIDAG might undertake research into this topic.“[We suggested that] the DOE could request this work from a national lab,” she says. “[IGIDAG] is an advisory group, not a group that undertakes research.”

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