Volume 13, Issue 8 - October 2012

Energy & Environmental News

Stakeholders Weigh in on Latest Energy Star Draft

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a stakeholder meeting in late August through which door, window and skylight companies had the opportunity to offer their views on the latest Energy Star draft, as well as hear about important program updates. This included an update on the future of the Energy Star program reported by Christian Kohler, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and an update on the Most Efficient program (MEP) for windows.

Kohler also mentioned the MEP as part of Energy Star’s future. Doug Anderson, project manager for the Energy Star Program, offered some additional insights, though he said he couldn’t divulge all of the specifics just yet.

Anderson affirmed that windows will be folded into the current Energy Star Most Efficient Program, which is currently in place for other Energy Star programs. Anderson said the windows program will be similar to what EPA has in place for heating and cooling equipment.

“The program will not include prices,” he said. “I know that was an issue in the windows volume purchase program.”

He added that the agency is considering using the same U-factor specified for the windows volume purchase program, and that the EPA plans to propose a minimum VT rating and will require NAFS certification. Manufacturers will have to fill out forms affirming their products are NAFS certified and then the product lines will be listed on the Most Efficient website beginning in January 2013. Finally, the SHGC will be in line with the latest Energy Star criteria.

Additionally, the Most Efficient designation won’t include a label to be affixed to products, but it may be included in store signage, websites, displays, etc.

As part of the discussions, stakeholders also had the opportunity to offer input on the latest draft. The EPA offered a limited number of stakeholder presentations so various companies and associations took advantage of this opportunity.

Jeff Inks, vice president of codes and regulatory affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), and Richard Walker, president of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), spoke on behalf of their members. Both addressed the air leakage requirement and Inks said he supports this addition but existing certifications such as WDMA’s Hallmark should be allowed for verification purposes without any special new labeling. Walker said the EPA needs to be clear that the air leakage numbers have to be verified–not just reported.

Inks also addressed the requirement regarding the fact that installation instructions must be included, and said the WDMA does have some concerns.

“While we understand the intent of the provisions for Energy Star, a simpler requirement is adequate without listing what must be included,” said Inks, noting installation instructions are already required by the building code.

Door and window manufacturers then shared their views and that included Jeld-Wen’s Ray Garries who began his presentation by reiterating that doors, windows and skylights are different than other Energy Star products.

“Our primary concerns are in the protection of the brand and increasing sales of branded products,” he said. “Also, there are still around a billion really bad windows that have to be replaced.”

Garries’ presentation was based on hard data, and displayed a chart to show that Energy Star window sales are falling off.

“Energy Star has reported a large increase in market share to 81 percent, but sales of Energy star products have dropped dramatically over the last four years,” he said. “So they key is affordability.”

Skylight stakeholders also made some key points regarding their products and Walker urged the EPA to keep in mind “the need to apply the same rigor and thoughtfulness to skylights as windows.”

He added that tubular daylighting devices (TDD) should be put in a separate category. Ray Dill, engineering manager, ODL, also spoke about TDD’s and noted that the .45 criteria listed now is “probably not practical.”

DOE Explores Attachments as an Added Way to Offer Energy-Efficient Benefits
While Department of Energy (DOE) officials say they would love for all consumers to have access to more energy-efficient windows in their homes, Marc LaFrance, building envelope and windows research and development manager for the DOE, says he “knows that is unrealistic.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options that can work alongside windows, such as attachments, which can help consumers reduce their energy usage. “We are aiming to provide other options,” says LaFrance. Exploring these alternatives was the topic of the recent Technical Analysis Workshop for Window Attachments held in Washington, D.C. LaFrance explains that the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) provides ratings for window film, and that future ratings could include those for low-E storm windows, solar shades, exterior blinds, interior blinds, awnings and highly insulating cellular shades. “The main ones we are looking at are exterior shading and that is a high priority for hot climates,” he says. “DOE’s mission is to help promote those products to consumers. We want them to have other options.” Toward that end, LaFrance says the DOE, working with other interested parties, has been busy analyzing these products in the lab to move this along. The main purpose of the workshop was to give representatives of the national labs, consultants and contractors, an opportunity to lay out the technical game plan as far as priorities. “This was a technical-focused workshop,” says LaFrance. “The main action item down the road is that DOE wants to get ratings on these products in place, and to figure out how we do this while working with a third party.”

New Resource Can Aid Window Companies in Energy Audits
A new resource is now available to assist window companies that are offering energy audit services. The Building Performance Institute Inc. (BPI) published BPI-1100-T-2012 Home Energy Auditing Standard, designed to provide the protocols to conduct a building-science-based evaluation of existing, detached, single-family dwellings and townhouses that meet specific criteria detailed in the standard’s scope.

The new standard also includes a number of references to doors and windows. For example, under the “Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation” section, the standard provides certain exceptions it says can reduce or eliminate the need to install a whole-building ventilation system. It notes that “whole-building ventilation systems aren’t required for homes without mechanical cooling in International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Zones 1 and 2 or for homes that are conditioned for less than 876 hours per year. These exceptions all require that the local jurisdictional authority determines that windows are an acceptable method of ventilation (ASHRAE Standard 62.2 – 2010, Section 4.1).”

In addition, under “Building Enclosure Performance,” the standard notes that energy audits must include an evaluation of the performance of the building enclosure and include recommendations for upgrades as appropriate. According to the standard, this includes evaluating window performance and fit by testing operation. Also noted is an estimation of U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients of doors, windows and skylights, including “evaluation of the feasibility and energy savings for window treatments, interior and exterior,” and “evaluation of window improvements in thermal resistance and/or exterior shading devices.” The next step for BPI is to have the standard published by the American National Standards Institute.

Steve Rennekamp, owner of Energy Swing Windows in Murrysville, Pa., says the BPI standard is something that will help move the industry in the right direction, providing a level of creditability and consumer confidence.

“The development of a standard that is understood and accepted by the industry is always a very good thing for both the consumer and the companies who are trying to ‘do the right thing,’” he says. “I still believe that energy audits are important. The real question is, ‘are enough people interested and willing to make an investment in the study and then take action on the recommendations?’ I think that it is going to be awhile [unless, for example, the government mandates or incentivizes the process …] for the consumer to take the audit step. While the audit gives them great information, the money that is spent on doing it right does nothing to fix the problem unless you spend more money.” (For more on conducting energy audits, see DWM, July-August, page 38).


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