LBL Begins Energy Saving Initiative
Scientists of the environmental energy technologies division (EETD) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBL) have begun a three-year public-private research initiative with the goal of reducing annual energy costs for commercial buildings by $100 billion. According to LBL, the California Energy Commission (CEC), the De-partment of Energy (DOE), private-sector partners and Pacific Gas & Electric have pledged more than $13 million in research funding. A team of 14 public and private sector partners has been brought together by EETD to carry out certain tasks within the High Performance Commer-cial Building Systems program.
LBL says the new program will form information technologies to design, commission and operate buildings, as well as integrate design techniques to generate substantial and sustained energy savings in commercial buildings.
“In California alone, implementation of technologies and practices developed in this research program for both new and existing buildings could reduce overall commercial-sector electricity consumption by 22 percent by 2015,” said Stephen Selkowitz, a principal investigator for the program.
The five areas in which new developments will be made are: life-cycle tools—the information management systems for efficient building design and operations; lighting, envelopes and daylighting—hardware and software to control lighting and ventilation systems, and dynamic window systems that modulate the amount of daylight and solar heat passing through them into the building; low-energy cooling; integrated commissioning and diagnostics; and indoor environmental quality, according to LBL.
This program is the first major agreement between the DOE and CEC to develop and implement technologies that can save consumers money on their energy bills and also reduce indoor pollution, said LBL.
In addition, CEC’s PIER program has made four two-year project awards totaling $2.35 million to LBL for end-use energy efficiency. Research is expected to cover instrumental home-energy rating and commissioning; energy-efficient downlights for California kitchens; heating, ventilation and air conditioning distribution systems in commercial buildings; and next-generation power management user interface for office equipment.
PGMC Urges Energy Conservation Credits
Homes using high-performance windows and other energy-saving products may earn tax credits if the U.S. Congress adopts an energy bill in 2001. According to the Primary Glass Manufacturers Council (PGMC) tax credits of 20 percent were included in the energy bill, H.R. 4, enacted by the House of Representatives in August. Pending Senate and Executive approval, the tax credit will be applied for a five-year period from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2006. The maximum allowable tax credit for each home will be $2,000.The PGMC says action has now shifted to the Senate, “where prospects this year are uncertain as the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks have forced changes in the legislative agenda.”
House Ways and Means chairman Bill Thomas is one lawmaker in favor of this energy bill. “Taxpayers who take steps to improve conservation and or use alternative sources of energy—such as investing in their home in energy-efficient ways or buying a more fuel-efficient car—will be rewarded for that behavior,” Thomas said.
The PGMC issued a statement saying it would continue to promote the tax credit to the Senate, but will also support the use of the Energy Star® program as an alternative for qualifying products and homes.
A PGMC task force, led by PPG Industries and Guardian Industries, has been working to promote the use of low-E glass.
PGMC also believes there is strong support in Congress for the completion of an energy bill. PGMC said that since September 11 “there is also an enhanced appreciation of the importance of energy conservation as part of a comprehensive national energy strategy.” However, the task force says that if Congress does not complete an energy bill before it adjourns, it will urge that the work resume in 2002.
The PGMC’s efforts to get an energy bill passed is part of its campaign to promote and encourage the use of low-E glass through both federal policies developed by the Bush Administration and Congress. According to information from the PGMC, several early-stage bills may include mortgage preference incentives or tax deductions for homes using low-E glass, expanded application of federal initiatives such as the ENERGY STAR program and promulgation of minimum standards for glass products in local building codes.
Home Depot Inc., which is based in Atlanta, recently announced that it has seen strong increases in sales of home energy consumption products for the first five months of this year. The company issued a statement saying that unit sales of a range of insulation products, energy-efficient lighting and solar-reducing window treatments have surpassed the previous year’s sales by approximately 25 percent.
NFRC Gives Condensation Resistance Rating Approval
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), based in Silver Spring, Md., has approved a procedure to rate condensation resistance in fenestration products (see "The Rate Debate" for more info). According to the NFRC, the new rating will be determined using a pre-specified set of environmental conditions and it will permit window and door manufacturers to obtain a condensation rating in conjunction with other NFRC thermal performance ratings such as U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient and visible transmittance.
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