Lights Out  
for Energy  
Star? It Could  
Happen ...  
B Y T R E Y B A R R I N E A U  
arch 2016. During a televised  
“While we may not agree with every aspect of  
debate with other Republican the Energy Star program, we believe that it does  
in a great job in supporting the American consum-  
Detroit, then-candidate Donald er,” said Phil Wengerd, vice president of market  
Trump vows to dismantle the strategies for ProVia. “The key is that there has to  
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  
We’re going to get rid of it in almost every form,” toward—a plumb line, if you will. Consumer edu-  
he said. “We’re going to have little tidbits left, but cation must be the top priority—making sure that  
be some known criteria that everyone is working  
we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.”  
May 2017. Newly elected President Trump  
when I buy something, I know what I’m getting.”  
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who has teamed  
releases his first comprehensive budget plan. The with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to introduce  
highlight? A massive 31-percent reduction in fund- energy-efficiency legislation in recent years, sug-  
ing for the EPA, from $8.2 billion in 2017 to $5.6 gested that many of the Trump administration’s  
billion in 2018.  
proposed reductions to the EPA would face strong  
One little tidbit that isn’t left—the agency’s pop- opposition across the political spectrum.  
ular, voluntary Energy Star program, which rates  
the efficiency of thousands of products, from air  
conditioners to dryers to doors and windows.  
That includes cutting Energy Star.  
“The fact is there is bipartisan support for pro-  
grams like Energy Star,” she said during the EE  
The administration’s budget completely Global Forum in Washington, D.C., in May. “We  
defunds the program for 2018, though the EPA understand that these programs bring benefits to  
says it will explore options for the transfer of the American people.”  
Energy Star and other climate protection partner-  
ship programs to “non-governmental entities.”  
While there’s a good chance that many of  
Shaheen added that energy efficiency is now  
widely accepted.  
“Despite what may happen at the federal level,  
Trump’s proposed cuts won’t make it past Congress what we have seen at the state and municipal level  
this year, the possible loss of Energy Star has gen- and from the private sector is that the effort to  
erated intense interest in the fenestration industry, support energy efficiency will continue,” she said.  
and with good reason. More than 300 door and “There is a revolution in how we think about and  
window companies are partners in the program, use energy, and it will not be derailed.”  
and Energy Star-rated windows represent about 80  
percent of the U.S. market, according to the EPA.  
Despite that, there are those in the industry  
who question the usefulness of a government pro-  
Recently, several industry companies, including gram that many say is flawed.  
Andersen, Plastpro, ProVia, Steves & Sons, Velux  
“In the early days of Energy Star, when it was  
America, Vitro, ViWinTech Windows & Doors and still a marketing program of the Department of  
others, joined about 1,000 other businesses across Energy, there was some perceived value to hav-  
many sectors to sign a letter urging Congress and ing it,” said Bob Maynes, director of marketing  
the White House to preserve Energy Star.  
and international sales with Mathews Brothers  
Door & Window Market  
Delving Into Energy Star’s Costs  
The EPA never responded to DWM’s request for  
specific annual budget figures for Energy Star’s win-  
dows, doors and skylights program. (The total budget  
for all of Energy Star in 2017 is $66 million.)  
Should Pay For  
It and Run It”  
I Think You  
Assisting the windows, doors and skylights pro-  
gram doesn’t seem to be terribly expensive, though.  
For example, a search of federal procurement data-  
bases shows that in 2015, ICF Inc. was awarded a  
one-year contract of $212,589 for “support services  
for Energy Star windows, doors & skylights products.”  
However, promoting the entire Energy Star pro-  
gram appears to carry a relatively hefty price tag.  
In 2016, the EPA sought to award a one-year  
contract for $14 million to market Energy Star. That’s  
about a quarter of the total budget for the program.  
Myron Ebell  
A search of the American Presidency Project website  
at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that  
Donald Trump never mentioned Energy Star in any speech-  
es, press releases or other documents from the date he  
announced his candidacy (June 15, 2015) to his election  
in November 2016. His campaign website didn’t mention it  
either, and the GOP’s platform was silent on the program  
as well.  
So whose idea was it to send Energy Star packing?  
We’ll probably never know for sure, but a lot of evidence  
points to Myron Ebell, who leads the Center for Energy  
and Environment at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise  
After the election, Ebell headed up Trump’s transition  
team for the EPA. When DWM asked him in April if it was  
his idea to axe Energy Star, he said “transition work is con-  
fidential.” But he then added: “I can say that it is public  
knowledge that the agency transition teams were primarily  
charged with developing plans to implement the president’s  
campaign commitments. Defunding Energy Star was not a  
campaign commitment.”  
Company. “But eventually, it became so incredibly  
easy to achieve the designation, it evolved into  
just another sticker on the window, instead of a  
differentiator. To me, the solution is, ultimately, a  
single code-enforcement body run by the industry,  
incorporating both structural and thermal per-  
formance, and reporting those numbers on the  
window label.”  
The Upside  
According to former EPA official Daniel Fiorino,  
the Energy Star program was designed to be a  
more collaborative and transparent alternative to  
top-down, one-size-fits-all government directives.  
“I do see Energy Star as a model for other kinds  
of public-private programs,” he said. “I would not  
call it a partnership exactly but a kind of third-par-  
ty certification program in which government  
plays a central role. There are private ones as well.  
An example is the Forest Stewardship Council.”  
Maria T. Vargas, director of the Department of  
Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, said the vol-  
untary nature of Energy Star means stakeholders  
work together to achieve efficiency goals.  
Ebell told DWM that he thinks privatizing Energy Star is  
a small step on the path toward getting the government’s  
financial house back in order.  
“Our view is that Energy Star is good insofar as it’s volun-  
tary and not so good that taxpayer dollars are used to run  
it,” he said in an e-mail. “One of the reasons that the federal  
government is so disastrously in debt is that hundreds of  
special interests have been able to commandeer tax dollars  
for programs that benefit them. If your industry and others  
that participate in Energy Star think it’s a good program,  
then I think you should pay for it and run it. There are good  
examples in other industries of programs (that were started  
before everyone decided that Congress could be persuaded  
to pay for every good idea) that are self-funded and admin-  
istered by the industries involved. The lumber grading stan-  
dards are a good example and do for lumber what Energy  
Star does for energy efficiency. They were self-funded, and  
as far as I know, still are self-funded.”  
“I think voluntary programs are an important  
part of solving the problem of energy efficiency,”  
said Vargas, who also was the brand manager  
for the Energy Star program for almost 20 years.  
When you have a voluntary program, you know  
the problem you’re trying to solve.”  
Carolyn Snyder, director of EPA’s Climate  
Protection Partnership Division, which includes  
Energy Star, said the public-private nature of vol-  
untary efficiency programs makes them especially  
receptive to what’s happening in the marketplace.  
continued on page 32  
June-July 2017  
Lconitinguehd frtomspaOge 3u1 t?  
We make sure the tools and pro-  
grams meet the needs of the market,”  
she said. “It’s important to continue to  
evolve with the marketplace.”  
Many door and window companies  
are on the same page. They see a gov-  
ernment-run Energy Star as a collab-  
orative, impartial body that sets uni-  
form standards that are clear to both  
manufacturers and consumers. That’s  
why so many take part in it, trumpet-  
ing their participation in advertising  
and marketing materials.  
From my perspective, Energy  
Energy Star Energy Efficiency Requirements for Windows  
Star has really challenged our indus-  
try—and many other industries—to  
become better and more energy effi-  
cient,” said Tyson Schwartz, Soft-  
Lite’s executive vice president and  
chief sales and marketing officer.  
Climate Zone  
Energy Star is almost like a seal of  
approval. Consumers look for Energy  
Star on most electronics and appli-  
ances. The logo and brand is recog-  
nized internationally.”  
Energy Star Requirement Test Method Reference  
NFRC 100  
NFRC 200  
That seal-of-approval aspect is a  
big part of its appeal to the industry.  
Air Leakage  
ASTM E283 in accordance with NFRC 400 or  
AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-11  
“By having a third-party organi-  
Source: Environmental Protection Agency  
zation that is verifying the accuracy  
of the reports and testing methods, it  
gives the consumer confidence that house gases are backing Energy Star’s gy manager with 3M, said Energy Star  
they can trust the numbers they are survival in a big way. has benefits for companies that go  
seeing,” said Brian K. Zimmerman, “We strongly support the beyond energy-efficiency initiatives.  
the owner of Zen Windows Carolina Energy Star program,” said Lowell “The ability to network, meet peo-  
in Charlotte, N.C. “If you remem- Ungar, senior policy adviser at the ple, share problems and share suc-  
ber back to the days before Energy American Council for an Energy- cesses really helped,” he said. “And  
Star certified windows, you had Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “This is the recognition we received with  
many companies using center- a voluntary government program that Energy Star was certainly fantastic.”  
of-glass U-value numbers to make works—indeed, it’s the leading volun-  
The National Fenestration Rating  
their windows look superior to oth- tary energy-efficiency program in the Council (NFRC), which plays a major  
ers, as opposed to overall window world. Bottom line: it helps consum- role in Energy Star by providing the  
U-values.” U-factor and solar heat gain coeffi-  
The other important function of  
Energy Star is to push the industry to who bought Energy Star products and skylights, also hopes it survives.  
ers save money.”  
According to Ungar, consumers cient ratings for doors, windows and  
advance its technology, said Schwartz. participated in its programs saved $34  
“As a government-backed program,  
It has challenged us to become billion in 2015, and a cumulative total Energy Star has significant credibility  
with U.S. consumers,” said NFRC CEO  
better and strive for more energy-effi- of $430 billion through 2015.  
cient products,” he said.  
“It is a remarkably successful brand Deb Callahan. “It helps them make  
Of course, reducing energy bills was recognized by almost 90 percent of sound decisions when purchasing  
a key reason the Energy Star program Americans,” he said. “And it helps windows, doors and skylights intend-  
was founded in 1992 (the windows businesses market better products. ed to reduce their energy bills, and we  
program began in 1997). Because We don’t see why anyone would want encourage its ongoing operation.”  
of that, organizations that support to take that away.”  
energy efficiency and reducing green-  
Steven Schultz, the corporate ener-  
continued on page 34  
Door & Window Market  
Lconitinguehd frtomspaOge 3u2 t?  
Big Market Share  
Energy Star windows  
made up about 80 percent  
of the U.S. market in 2010.  
The Downside  
understand all the window technolo-  
gies that manufacturers have certified  
and which combinations can achieve  
certain performance levels.  
While many door and window  
companies say they love the little blue  
label, the industry’s relationship with  
Energy Star hasn’t always been posi-  
tive. For example, testing and verifica-  
tion have long been issues.  
“EPA is working to improve how  
they calculate which windows and  
doors are available to consumers, and  
this should help,” said Ray Garries,  
vice president of engineering and  
innovation at MI Windows and Doors  
and a blogger for DWM. “The NFRC  
CPD has millions of products list-  
ed, but a large percentage are not  
available for consumers to buy. These  
unavailable listed options are mostly  
glazing combinations that the system  
Non-Energy Energy  
Star Star  
In 2012, the agency launched a test-  
ing program for fenestration products  
that’s administered by the NFRC. The  
goal was to test 10 percent of Energy  
Star product lines each year.  
However, Doug Anderson, the proj-  
ect manager for Energy Star’s win-  
dows, doors and skylights program,  
told an industry gathering in February  
Source: EPA  
that NFRC is testing just 5 percent of turers found that they could lower the requires, but the manufacturers may  
product lines in 2017. And at an earli- U-factor to achieve Energy Star cer- not sell for a variety of reasons.”  
er meeting, he noted inconsistencies tification by placing additional low-E  
within the verification program. on the fourth or room-side surface of eficial to manufacturers. By working  
We have found issues of concern, a window, they missed an important in the database and selecting combi-  
The change could be hugely ben-  
and we have found failures,” Anderson —and potentially costly—side effect.  
nations that match existing products,  
said during a December 2014 stake-  
holders meeting in Washington, D.C.  
“The fact that it also lowers the window makers could see how they  
condensation resistance factor was stack up against the best and worst  
Members of the industry said lost on them,” Maynes said. “So, this for that combination. It could also  
those problems damage Energy Star’s spring and summer and fall, a whole save the time and expense of testing  
lot of windows with fourth-surface different configurations, and it could  
There have been labeling incon- low-E glazing are going to be installed turn up the lowest-cost combinations  
sistencies that cause you to question in the Northeast, and next fall, a whole that hit efficiency targets.  
the program,” said Steve Strawn, the lot of window dealers’, distributors’  
product compliance manager at Jeld- and window manufacturers’ phones Specification Vexation  
Another issue that bothers manu-  
Wen, during that meeting.  
are going to be ringing off the hook  
Maynes points out specific prob- with people complaining about the facturers is the additional costs that  
lems with the current Energy Star incredibly massive amounts of con- arise from changes to the specification  
Version 6.0 specification, which took densation that will be with them all that some feel come too fast.  
effect on January 1, 2015 in the U.S. winter long, which will lead to sheet-  
“Obviously as the EPA raises the bar  
except in the Northern Zone, where rock damage and mold growth. And on performance in order to achieve  
the criteria for windows went into what comes shortly after that? Class- the Energy Star rating, it requires man-  
effect on January 1, 2016.  
What did the EPA do here? They  
eschewed responsibility and simply Steps to Improve  
pointed to one value (U-factor of 0.27  
action lawsuits.”  
ufacturers to pour more and more  
money into the window to achieve  
smaller and smaller improvements,”  
To its credit, the EPA is trying to said Maynes. “It’s a business decision:  
or better) or two values (a sliding fix problems like this. For example, do we want to inventory specific pro-  
scale of U-factor and solar heat gain in January the agency began work files, specific types of glass, specific  
coefficient) from the array of NFRC on a new methodology for analyzing glazing systems, specific anything, in  
testing we all perform, and used those NFRC’s Certified Product Directory order to address this niche?”  
as its pass/fail criteria for whether or (CPD), the massive database of win-  
Maynes’ company, Mathews  
not the window passed (for the North dows, doors, skylights and other Brothers, is the type of smaller manu-  
and North/Central climate zones),” products that have been approved by facturer that might be especially sen-  
he said. “In reality, it’s the single cri- the organization. The analysis could sitive to fluctuations in production  
terion that the market looks at: the be used in future Energy Star specifi- costs, but even major players in the  
U-factor. All we have to do is achieve cation revisions.  
industry have expressed concern.  
a 0.27 U-factor, and we’re in.”  
In a statement, the EPA said it’s  
And while many window manufac- proposing the new approach to better  
continued on page 36  
Door & Window Market  

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