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USGNN Original StoryABC Forum Asks, Can 30 Percent Energy Reductions Be Met By 2010?

An open forum examining the prospect of meeting a 30 percent improvement in residential energy efficiency by 2010, sponsored by the Advanced Building Coalition (ABC), was held yesterday in Chicago. Approximately 60 people, from the glass industry-including PPG, Pilkington, AGC Flat Glass, representatives from the Glass Association of North America, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association and others-other parts of the building industry and government, were in attendance.

"The goal [of the forum] was to have experts in the field present concepts and ideas as to how can we achieve an additional 30 percent in energy savings over the current code by 2010," says Thom Zaremba, the designated spokesperson for ABC and forum moderator. Zaremba says these reduction was addressed both for commercial and residential buildings. "We also had as the subject matter how the code development process can assist in the development of this increased efficiency in the code sector and what are some of the 30 percent solutions."

A variety of answers to this question were presented.

"There was a belief that 30 percent energy savings could be achieved. The representative from Pacific Northwest National Labs [Todd Taylor] asked some very poignant and difficult questions," Zaremba says. Essentially, Taylor asked, "Thirty percent of what?"

How do we measure this and where do we start, Taylor asked of his audience. With all of the energy that the building uses? The appliances? The windows?

Zaremba summarized, "The building is not just a structure, it is a living thing with machinery in it and all these other things that consume electricity and energy."

Henry Green, past president of the International Code Council's (ICC) board of directors, also spoke at the event.

"He, as a building code official, indicated that he is convinced that if building codes were properly [executed] and enforced the existing building codes, we could save at least 30 percent more energy," Zaremba says.

Other speakers included Michael Freedberg from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Majette from the Department of Energy, Craig Drumheller from the National Association of Home Builders, Craig Connor of Building Quality, Chuck Murray of Washington State University and Julie Ruth, who represents the American Architectural Manufacturers Association.

ABC will be holding additional forums in the future, asking new questions.

Zaremba expects that the next open forum will be held sometime between when the building code proposals are published by ICC in November and the February code hearings. "It's going to ask the question 'Will the current code proposals result in greater energy efficiency or do we need the federal government to intervene?'" he says.

ABC also intends to hold a forum to address possibilities for improving energy efficiency on existing buildings.

The forums are relatively new to the industry, as the coalition itself is only about six months old.

"About six months ago it occurred to me," says Zaremba, "that there was a need for a really broad-based group of building component manufacturers to get together and start to work together to develop more efficient and cost effective building codes or energy codes for construction of both residential and commercial buildings. So we kinda got together on a real informal basis and decided that we would develop this coalition."

Members of ABC include glass manufacturers AGC Flat Glass and Pilkington North America, the International Window Film Association, as well as consulting companies and other building component manufacturers. The group intends to promote significantly increased building energy efficiency, sustainability and other improvements in new and existing buildings.

Zaremba also notes that the group endorses a "whole-building" basis for codes and efficiency programs, considers impacts on life safety and fire safety important, opposes the use of the building codes to gain competitive advantages and believes the cost of energy efficiency to be an important consideration. ABC supports both code and "above code" programs as ways to promote more efficient, durable and green buildings.

"It is very exciting," Zaremba says of the forums. "It's really kind of revolutionary to bring all these groups together in an informal context where they can explore all these alternatives."

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