EPA Releases Final Draft for Energy Star 7.0

July 19th, 2022 by Drew Vass

The race will soon begin for manufacturers seeking to earn or keep Energy Star certifications for door and window products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took another step toward deployment of Version 7.0 today, releasing a final draft with minor updates over its Draft 2 proposal. Changes include a slight adjustment to U-factor requirements in the North-Central climate zone for windows and updated U-factor requirements for doors in the Southern and South-Central regions. At the same time, officials are standing by their decision to forego a typical nine-month period for deployment after final approval, instead providing an additional three months (a year total) for manufacturers to deploy products.

The same prescriptive approach found in drafts one and two for windows in the Northern climate zone remains in the final draft.

Following industry feedback from Draft 2, U-factor requirements for the North-Central zone were raised from 0.24 to 0.25, with a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) requirement of 0.40. With this change, EPA officials say they’re acknowledging the originally proposed 0.24 requirement was “a tough U-factor to get to with two panes of glass.” Typically, products meeting around a 0.28 U-factor rating will need only to add a room-side (surface four), low-E coating to reach the 0.25 mark, an EPA official tells [DWM]. At the same time, the updated 0.25 requirement represents a significant improvement over Energy Star Version 6, which calls for a 0.30 U-factor rating in the same climate zone. Companies that persist in using “poor thermally performing frames,” won’t be able to get by on glass upgrades alone, an official suggests but will need to adopt frames with additional insulating features, such as an increased number of air chambers or foam filling.

After backing away from the idea for adding separate specifications for sliding patio doors and swing-style doors (positioned in Draft 1), program officials settled on one set of requirements for sliding doors and swing doors with a half-lite or more of glass, raising the U-factor requirements for the Southern and South-Central zones in the final draft to 0.28. U-factor requirements for the same doors in the Northern and North-Central zones remain at 0.25, as proposed in Draft 2.

As part of the final draft, EPA has also settled on changing the way it gathers shipment data for doors and windows from manufacturers. As part of Energy Star program requirements, manufacturers are required to report the number of Energy Star-rated products sold each year. To collect this information, officials say in the past EPA has relied on a third-party agency to shield manufacturers from having to provide info directly to a government agency. Going forward, EPA will now perform its own data gathering, the same way it does for other product sectors, officials say, but will now allow manufacturers to provide shipment data through an independent trade association for aggregation. The final version also delinks Energy Star requirements for air leakage and U-factor testing from current National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) requirements. While Version 7.0 requirements will align with NFRC’s current protocols, calling for U-factor performance evaluation every five years and air leakage testing every 10 years, those requirements will hereafter be prescribed directly by Energy Star. Under new circumstances, should NFRC change its requirements, EPA will retain the currently prescribed five- and 10-year cycles, officials say.

Following today’s unveiling of a final draft for Version 7.0, a three-week period of comment ensues, in which manufacturers can provide a last round of feedback. EPA will then share a final summary letter, after which specifications are expected to be published as early as September 2022. Barring any egregious errors, new requirements will take effect a year later, officials say, in fall 2023.

Full final draft requirements can be found HERE.

Equivalent Energy Prescriptive Requirements for Windows

Climate Zone U-Factor1 SHGC2
Northern ≤ 0.22 ≥ 0.17
North-Central ≤ 0.25 ≤ 0.40
South-Central ≤ 0.28 ≤ 0.23
and Southern ≤ 0.32 ≤ 0.23

1  Btu/h ft2∙˚F

2  Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

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  1. Totally in keeping with the brilliance that has been the hallmark of this organization over the years. Wonder what the unintended consequences of this decision might include? Manufacturers deciding that since they can’t meet Energy Star, why bother using Low-e/Argon at all and just go back to Clear/Clear thereby driving energy usage even higher? Consumers weighing the significantly higher cost of the Energy Star window with a return on investment that stretches into decades, and concluding that the Energy Star label just ain’t worth it? And those that do shell out for Energy Star 7.0 (achieved with S4 Low-e) will endure significant interior window condensation with the resultant sheet rock damage and mold growth, just for that coveted Energy Star certification. Yes, a brilliant decision that keeps them on the pathway to U-Factor of 0.20 that was laid out back when the DOE was in charge of this marketing ruse. But, I guess when you compare it to an internal combustion alarm clock, it’s not the EPA’s worst decision.

  2. I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you… (Ronald Reagan)

    …you better run, you better hide… (Pat Benatar)

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