Changes Unlikely for Energy Star, Expert SaysJanuary 3rd, 2017 by Trey Barrineau
The Energy Star program for windows, doors and skylights, which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been in wide use by the industry ever since the program for fenestration products was launched in March 1998. Today, 303 door and window companies are listed as Energy Star partners. But what’s ahead for the voluntary certification program under a new administration that’s vowed to dismantle the EPA?
Probably not much, says one codes and certifications expert who says energy-efficiency programs are supported by the public and the industry.
“It’s obviously very difficult to know what the future holds, but the voluntary Energy Star program is pretty broadly popular with builders and manufacturers around the country who like it and use it, so I think that kind of broad industry support is likely to be something that would carry the day with the Trump administration,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on improving energy efficiency in buildings. “I think it’s pretty unlikely that they would eliminate the Energy Star program, or even make fundamental changes.”
President-elect Donald Trump made weakening the EPA one of his signature campaign promises last year.
“We are going to get rid of it (the EPA) in almost every form,” Trump said during the GOP debate in March 2016. “We’re going to have little tidbits left, but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.”
Most of the new administration’s efforts for changing the EPA will focus on energy production. For example, Scott Pruitt, the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma who is Trump’s pick to lead EPA, has taken legal action against the agency he’s been picked to run. He’s sued the EPA over its power plant regulations, and he also took part in a case that claimed the agency has a cozy relationship with environmental groups.
Trump’s energy policy aims to tap America’s reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. He says he’ll do that by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminating moratoriums on coal leasing and opening shale energy deposits. His campaign platform said nothing about energy codes for buildings.
“In general, you’ll see a lot of efforts going toward new energy production in the United States and you’re not going to see a lot of attention given to energy codes or Energy Star or other programs,” Majersik says. “I would expect that you won’t see dramatic changes with programs like Energy Star.”
Majersik says the public doesn’t think about energy efficiency as much as it does about energy supply, mainly because it’s a subject he calls “fairly non-controversial.”
“Energy efficiency is something everyone likes,” he says. “Energy efficiency is about saving energy and saving money and creating more comfortable homes. I think that is non-controversial, and because it’s non-controversial it hasn’t merited much attention from the press.”
The current Energy Star Version 6.0 specification for doors, windows and skylights took effect on January 1, 2015 in the U.S. except in the Northern Zone, where the prescriptive and equivalent energy performance criteria for windows went into effect on January 1, 2016.
The Energy Star specification uses National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) performance ratings for U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient.
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