Home Star Program a Step Closer to Being Law
May 7, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday designed to provide rebates to homeowners who install energy-saving products, including doors, windows, skylights and window film. The legislation could also create an estimated 168,000 construction, manufacturing and retail jobs in the United States.

"The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act is a common sense bill that will create jobs, save consumers money, and strengthen our economy," stated President Obama. "I commend the House on passing this bill … At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work and companies are ready to take on new customers, this legislation will help jumpstart job growth and demand for new products created right here in America. This rebate program will not only put people back to work, it will lower costs for homeowners who choose to improve their home with products like energy efficient windows, water heaters and air conditioners. And it will also save consumers money on energy bills down the road."

He continued, "I'm convinced that the country that leads in clean energy is also going to be the country that leads in the global economy and I want America to be that nation. I will not settle for anything less than first place when it comes to new energy technologies, and this bill will create the incentives to help us accomplish that goal. We have workers eager to do new installations and renovations, and factories ready to produce new energy efficient building supplies. Today's House vote is an important step forward, and I look forward to working with the Senate to improve this legislation so we can help more middle-class homeowners make these investments without delay."

According to the legislation, rebates would be awarded for installation of a variety of energy saving measures for a home energy retrofit. These measures include replacement of at least eight exterior windows or 75 percent of the windows in a home, whichever is less, with windows that are certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and comply with criteria applicable to the windows in the tax credit program (included in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, section 25 (c) (except for those in areas above 5,000 feet elevation, where windows will be required to have a U-factor of at least 0.35 when replacing windows that are single-glazed or double-glazed with an internal air space of ¼ inch or less). Also included are doors and skylights. These must replace at least one exterior door or skylight with those that comply with the 2010 Energy Star specification for doors or skylights.

In addition, window film is also included as part of the legislation. Window film must be installed on at least eight exterior doors, windows or skylights, or 75 percent of the total exterior square footage of glass in a home, whichever is more. The films must be certified by the NFRC and have a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.43 or less with a visible light-to-solar heat gain coefficient of at least 1.1 for installations in 2009 International Energy Conservation Code climate zones 1-3; or a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.43 or less with a visible light light-to-solar heat gain coefficient of at least 1.1 and a U-factor of 0.40 or less as installed in 2009 International Energy Conservation Code climate zones 4-8.

Homeowners can receive $1,000 per measure for energy saving installations. Doors and skylights are an exception; homeowners would receive $125 per door and per skylight for the installation of up to a maximum of two ENERGY STAR doors and two ENERGY STAR skylights. The maximum rebate for a home is $3,000 or 50 percent of the total cost of the installed measures.

In addition to promoting energy-saving products and features, the legislation could also help get many people back to work. U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak from Michigan, who voted in favor of H.R. 5019, issued a statement yesterday saying, "Job creation is a critical goal of the Home Star program, as construction jobs cannot be outsourced and 90 percent of the energy saving products in the program, including windows, doors and insulation, are manufactured in the United States."

Those in the glass and fenestration industry see the passage of Home Star by the House as a positive step.

"We are excited that the Home Star program has taken a significant step closer to implementation," said Janice Charletta, association services director for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). "AAMA's role as a leading trade association in the door and window industry includes a focus on energy efficiency and sustainable products verified through testing, certification and follow-up manufacturing facility inspections. Our members and certification program participants are committed to helping make the Home Star program a success. The House has demonstrated its commitment to both the environment and the economy, and to homeowners, building products manufacturers and remodeling contractors. We urge the Senate to follow the House's leadership and pass the Home Star legislation."

Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), is also encouraged, but says it's important to take into account commercial construction.

"The commercial buildings industry has been equally harmed by the recession, and while residential construction may just be starting to improve, the commercial segment is not expected to recover until as late as 2014. As such, Congress needs to support a similar initiative to improve the energy efficiency of existing commercial buildings," says Yanek. "Along these lines, GANA is working with Congress to support the Building STAR legislation with some important corrections."

The Home Star legislation now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

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