HPBCC Hosts Event to Discuss Plans for Building STAR Legislation
May 25, 2010

The High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC) hosted a luncheon in Washington, D.C., yesterday titled “Building STAR Legislation: Retrofitting Our Way to Energy Saving and Job Creation.” The event, which was co-sponsored by a number of groups and organizations, including the Glass Association of North America (GANA), included presentations by several players in the ongoing push for Congress to enact Building STAR legislation.

"GANA leadership recognizes that the glass industry must engage not only on purely technical issues, but advocate on behalf of the industry as well,” said Bill Yanek, GANA executive vice president. “Building STAR melds energy efficiency performance standards with a policy initiative using direct rebates to 'incentivize' commercial building retrofits in the near-term (18 months)."

Yanek adds that GANA: Technical expertise with regard to energy is being led by its technical director Urmilla Sowell and energy consultant Dr. Tom Culp.

"On the policy front, GANA: Advocacy will continue to partner with allies such as the Energy Future Coalition to hopefully push a Building STAR through Congress that reflects the unique potential energy-efficient glass brings to commercial buildings."

Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, was just one of the event’s speakers. He explained that the origins of Building STAR date back about 18 months.

“We had a sense that energy efficiency was making progress too slowly,” he said. “So we wanted a target to think about.” He said they decided to follow the same plans that the city of Chicago had laid out: to retrofit 40 percent of the buildings in the country by 2020.

“We’re trying to get the most out of the stimulus and also what happens after the stimulus,” he said. “We want to be sure we’re creating a sustainable industry that’s moving toward this [2020] target.”

In order to do so, he said they decided to move beyond the traditional energy efficiency advocacy groups and reach out to contractors, manufacturers, labor unions, etc., in addition to the advocacy groups.

When explaining why they are focusing on the commercial building sector, Detchon pointed out that those involved with this sector represent a group that is ready for and familiar with large-scale work and the workforce is highly qualified to handle this type of work.

He explained that two or three years ago when everyone was hard at work they may not have seen the need for this type of program.

“Now, an unfortunate aspect of the recession has been the tremendous layoffs in the construction industry. Both the trades people and contractors see [Building STAR] as an opportunity to engage the retrofit market,” said Detchon.

He added that with both contractors and the workforce ready he is confident that once Building STAR is passed people will be back to work quickly.

"GANA is very appreciative of the recognition of our Energy Future Coalition membership that Reid Detchon provided from the podium during yesterday's briefing," added Yanek.

Brian Pitman, GANA director of marketing and communication added, "We are very pleased to be able to represent the industry while providing them a way to witness the importance of the Building STAR legislation. Beginning Wednesday, June 26, everyone in the industry will be able to watch a rebroadcast of the briefing on demand, sponsored by Guardian Industries Corp., on the GANA: Advocacy website.” (CLICK HERE to access the website.)

Only minutes before yesterday’s presentations began, GANA was granted permission to provide a live stream of the sessions from its website. Steve Farrar, director, international business for Guardian Industries, viewed the presentations and said they provided a good overview of the Building STAR program and some of the benefits.

“Clearly there will be job-creation benefits –the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that 187,000 jobs will be created by Building STAR between 2010 and 2011,” he said.

However, Farrar said there was no mention yesterday of an issue that is important to the glass industry (and related fenestration industries): the bills as introduced in the Senate (S. 3079) and under discussion in the House do not include storefronts and curtainwalls as eligible for cash rebates.

“In the current drafts, only residential-type windows for "punched openings" are eligible. GANA has raised this issue with leaders of the coalition helping to structure the program, and there is agreement that the problem needs to be remedied. We are close to agreement on language.”

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