Insights: Fenestration Representatives Share Views on the Proposed
ENERGY STAR® Revisions
The Department of Energy's (DOE) ENERGY STAR stakeholder meeting
took place last week in Washington D.C. (CLICK
HERE for that story.) Hundreds of people attended to discuss
the proposed criteria revisions. While some companies support the
proposed changes, others, including some aluminum window manufacturers,
do not. With ENERGY STAR revisions calling for lower U-factors,
it might be a challenge for some aluminum windows to meet the increasing
Freddie Cole, national sales manager with General Aluminum Windows
in Dallas, says he is not in favor of the proposed changes.
"It's punishing those states, counties and municipalities
that have done the right thing and adopted an energy code requiring
the use of low solar gain products," says Cole. "Why should
those jurisdictions be punished with required stricter values when
there are entire states that do not require low solar gain products
at all in the South? Wouldn't the DOE be better served leveling
the playing field, so to speak, by pressuring those states to adopt
codes that require low solar gain products?"
He continues, "I understand the DOE's position that ENERGY
STAR has to be better than the codes, but codes in many jurisdictions
are already equal to ENERGY STAR and codes can be and are being
changed at a much more rapid pace. Many municipalities and jurisdictions
reference ENERGY STAR in their codes, which means there can be three
different code guidelines (ENERGY STAR, International Residential
Code [IRC] and International Energy Conservation Code [IECC]). Wouldn't
it make sense to take a good (IRC), better (IECC), best (ENERGY
STAR non-mandatory) approach?"
Tom Culp, who represents the Aluminum Extruders Council, also has
some concerns about the proposed revisions.
"We're encouraged that DOE is updating ENERGY STAR, but of
course, we're concerned about how it will affect aluminum windows
in the south," says Culp. "Because ENERGY STAR must beat
code, it is still uncertain what the final criteria and performance
trade-offs will include until after the International Code Council
final hearings in late September. We will be filing detailed comments
after that time."
In addition, Cole says that there are also issues when it comes
to the codes and the way they are viewed by window manufacturers,
homeowners and builders.
"The biggest disconnect I and many others see is both the
manufacturer and the homeowner view the code as the minimum standard;
the builder, in most cases, views code as a maximum to which a home
should be built. Builders could do better, but since the state(s)
don't require it they don't choose to," says Cole. "If
every state adopted the IRC and its energy code as a base standard
the nation as a whole would be better off in regards to conserving
Cole adds, " I would like to see the DOE make the statement
that 'Energy Star U-value and solar heat gain coefficient requirements
are not intended for and should not be used by jurisdictions as
the basis for local energy code(s). ENERGY STAR is an above-code
initiative.' This would help explain the intended use of ENERGY
STAR and prevent the misuse of the target requirements."
And on a different note, Culp says they [AEC] are also encouraging
the DOE to think more broadly about the environmental impacts of
ENERGY STAR. He poses the question: "Beyond just proposed energy
savings, do the proposed criteria promote materials that are more
or less environmentally friendly and sustainable?
"To that end, we have presented a new concept for a recycled
content credit, where a credit would be given toward meeting U-factor
criteria based on the equivalent embodied energy savings from using
recycled materials," he says. "Our initial analysis shows
that in the south the embodied energy savings from the use of recycled
aluminum can be as significant as the energy savings from proposed
reductions in U-factor."
Culp has presented data on recycled content credit to the DOE and
says the proposal and analysis will be made available for review
and discussion through the DOE's ENERGY STAR website.
HERE to share your views on the proposed ENERGY STAR revisions.
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