Volume 38, Issue 8, August 2003


Natural Gas Prices Continue to 
Affect Window and Glass Manufacturers

As the cost of natural gas continues to increase, many manufacturers, including those of glass and fenestration products, are feeling the impact. On March 12, Greg Lebedev, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), hosted a press conference in the Senate Energy Committee Room on Capitol Hill to address the issue.

According to Lebedev, the congressional delegation joined a variety of trade associations whose industries are struggling with the cost of natural gas. Three ACC members, two of whom have ties to the glazing industry, Rohm and Haas and Dow, spoke out on how their operations were being affected by the natural gas crisis.

“The nation is in a natural gas crisis and it won’t end when the weather warms. There is a long-term structural imbalance in natural gas markets that has been years in the making, and Congress bears most of the responsibility for the crisis.” said Lebedev. “In recent years, Congress has been promoting policies that drive more and more use of natural gas, a clean and once abundant energy source. Demand for natural gas to generate electricity and heat homes has risen rapidly in the past decade. At the same time, Congress has put most of the most promising deposits of natural gas reserves off-limits to development.” 

During the conference, Lebedev said Congress was called upon to pass legislation that would open America’s large gas reserves to “environmentally friendly drilling.”

“We urged Congress to preserve all of the nation’s fuel supplies, including new generation coal technology and we delivered the message that conservation must figure prominently in any national energy policy.”

EnergyPlus Software Helps Federal Building Save Millions in Energy Costs

According to a report in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (LBNL) newsletter, Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) News, EnergyPlus software, a building energy-simulation program distributed by the lab, helped a federal office building in San Francisco save nearly $9 million in energy costs projected over a 20-year period. Groundbreaking on the project took place July 15, 2002.

The software allows users to calculate impacts of different heating, cooling and ventilating systems, as well as the impact of different windows and lighting systems. The development of EnergyPlus was a joint effort between EETD’s simulation research group, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, with assistance from other research organizations, and funded by the Department of Energy Office of Building Technologies.

The article reported that the San Francisco building will use natural ventilation so as to provide cooling without fans or refrigeration, with natural airflow through windows cooling the building most of the year. During hot weather, interior heat will be absorbed during the day by exposed, heavyweight ceiling slabs, and stored heat will be dissipated at night when temperatures are lower. The article says cooling and ventilation are maximized “by orienting the building and its windows to take advantage of natural wind conditions.”

While LBNL’s portion of the project is complete, it is still working to help designers with various strategies. One problem to be addressed, according to the article, is finding a way to “reconcile automated strategies aimed at overall building comfort with the desire to allow individuals to open and close windows near them.” According to studies, the use of operable windows and day-lit interiors contributed to workplace productivity, health and satisfaction of those in the building, reported the article.

Info www.eetd.lbl.gov.

New Design Tool Available for Estimating Energy Life-Cycle Costs
A new software tool, Energy-10 Version 1.5, is now available and designed to assist in estimating energy life-cycle costs of new buildings. The new software version was developed jointly by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the Berkeley Solar Group. It is an upgrade of the original program developed by the Department of Energy and the NREL.

Energy-10 Version 1.5 features several upgrades, such as a discounted cash-flow evaluation of a building over its lifetime and a new graphing package. 

According to an article in LBNL’s newsletter, Environmental Energy Technologies Division News, the new software allows users to play ‘what if?’ to find answers to questions 
such as what if I change the windows?”

“Helping architects and engineers understand the energy implications of their work is critical in any strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming,” stated the article. “The life-cycle cost feature helps designers make the case for incorporating energy-efficiency features by evaluating the cost effectiveness of these features.” The article adds that the software can allow an architect to view simulations of how a building will use energy. It also details ways to reduce energy usage. It includes weather data for 239 locations around the country (expandable to 3,945 locations).

The product is being distributed by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council.


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