WDMA Takes aim at Energy and Fair Trade in 2020

February 20th, 2020 by Drew Vass

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) released its 2020 National Policy Agenda recently, calling on Congress and the White House to advance legislation and policies that officials say will help to extend a state of economic expansion. Chief among the association’s concerns are policies that promote energy efficiency and fair trade, while eliminating excessive regulations and promoting workforce development, declared WDMA chair Robert Lewis.

According to the published agenda, the association will continue its work in 2020 to encourage long-term agreements that bring stability to product supply and pricing, including negotiations between the U.S. and Canada over softwood lumber. The species of wood imported from Canada and required for framing in the U.S. “are simply not available in sufficient quantities domestically,” Lewis said in his opening remarks. Meanwhile, U.S.-based manufacturing jobs depend on exports, officials suggest. As a result, WDMA supports eliminating what the agenda refers to as “border barriers,” including such things as tariffs and “non-tariff barriers,” urging government officials to consider the full impacts of such measures. Agreements such as the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), WDMA cited as positive for domestic producers, while pointing to a need for further negotiations—most notably over softwood lumber.

The association also included energy and energy-related policies in its targets, calling on Congress to address updates designed to stimulate retrofits. Officials estimate that there remain nearly one billion single-pane windows in existing structures in need of updates, also including those with clear, double-pane glass on its list. To remedy those deficiencies, officials said WDMA endorses proven, commercially available alternatives—specifically referencing Energy Star-certified products. As states and localities take up the cause for mandating improvements among new buildings, there is a need for a “balanced national policy,” officials said—one that takes into account varying climates. For this reason, any incentives aimed at inspiring retrofits should be tied to Energy Star Version 6.0 requirements, the agenda suggested.

As the Department of Energy (DOE) participates in developing national model energy codes and standards, association officials say they support those efforts, including DOE’s role as a technical advisor. At the same time, they’re calling on the department to be “fully transparent” in its efforts. Meanwhile, at home, when it comes to energy usage among the association’s members, manufacturers’ reliance on energy sources “dictate that our national energy policy include support for alternative and renewable fuels,” the agenda suggested. Any new policies or policy changes, officials said, should strike a balance between domestic competiveness and protecting the environment.

Beyond energy, American manufacturers are “often disadvantaged by current tax structure,” the agenda asserted—citing direct and indirect impacts. For instance, mortgage interest deductions (MID) have been a “powerful tool to incentivize homeownership,” the association suggested. For this reason, officials declared their support for permanent extension of mortgage- and real-estate-based deductions, also urging continuity for capital gains exclusions on the sale of principal residences.

Regarding the disadvantages presented by labor shortages, WDMA called for human resource policies that balance workers’ rights with those of employers—including those that avoid unfairly restricting manufacturers’ abilities to negotiate freely with their workers. Unions should continue to be formed via secret ballot elections, officials suggested, opposing any legislation that would interfere with such practices. Instead, officials support policies that address shortages by improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, thereby increasing the pool of qualified candidates.

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