Volume 43, Issue 5 - May 2008

Energy & Environment             

Department of Energy Moves Forward with 
Energy Star® Changes

An upcoming change to energy ratings was discussed at the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) spring meeting, which took place in March at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. (see April 2008 USGlass, page 16). The Department of Energy (DOE) is continuing to move forward with revising the Energy Star® criteria for doors, windows and skylights. Richard Karney with the DOE provided a progress report as part of the NFRC’s Regulatory Affairs and Marketing Committee meeting.

According to Karney, the DOE currently is evaluating the technology, market, costs and energy-savings data, and the earliest effective date of the new criteria would be April 2009. Some of the guiding principles in changing the Energy Star criteria included significant energy savings, cost effectiveness, measurable energy savings and a meaningful differentiation.

Karney explained that one reason DOE is changing the criteria is the fact that in some areas codes have superseded Energy Star, and that Energy Star performance needs to be above that of the codes. He also added that Energy Star now has 53-percent market share.

“That number is too high for the label to have meaning in the marketplace,” said Karney. Also as part of the presentation, Karney shared some common misconceptions about Energy Star. For example, one misconception is that Energy Star is a “seal of approval” that identifies all reasonably efficient products. 

The truth, explained Karney, is that Energy Star is intended to distinguish the most efficient products. Another misconception is that lowering market share will impede rather than accelerate Energy Star energy savings. According to Karney, sales of Energy Star-labeled products may decline, but aggressive performance levels will increase.

Karney also shared a few other elements under consideration, including separate Energy Star criteria for doors, air leakage requirements and a longer transition period between old and new criteria.

Other associations have commented on the DOE revisions as well. Building upon recent meetings and correspondence with the DOE, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) provided further feedback on the proposed Energy Star® Program revisions for fenestration products.

“Improving energy efficiency is a national priority. We applaud Energy Starr’s success and the momentum it has gained in the marketplace,” says John Lewis, AAMA’s technical director. Lewis adds, “It benefits us all to give careful consideration to any revision to the program. 

We encourage the DOE to implement Energy Star program revisions that are consistent with achieving the goal of reducing energy consumption, while continuing to enhance market penetration. We are confident revisions can be made that preserve the DOE’s goals, yet have minimal impact on the manufacturing base.”

Toward this goal, AAMA recommendations include the following:

  • A two-stage phase-in with Stage One implemented one year after the program parameters are finalized (mid-2009) and Stage Two implemented in 2014;
  • U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient values be brought in line with aggressive goals as predicted by industry experts as attainable within six or seven years;
  • Alternate compliance paths coupled with realistic program parameters that maintain a consistent and clear message to the consumer via the Energy Star label;
  • Careful cost-benefit or payback analysis that evaluates decreasing demand for more expensive products, while accounting for price elasticity; and 
  • Close alignment of the five Energy Star zones with those provided in the International Energy Conservation Code climate zone map and redefinition of the Northern Zone parameters.

AAMA has submitted these recommendations and other comments for the DOE’s review and will continue discussions as the Department plans to announce its Energy Star Program targets for 2009, 2012 and 2015. 

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