Volume 43, Issue 9 - September 2008

Energy & Environment

Department of Energy Unveils
Newly Proposed ENERGY STAR® Criteria

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) auditorium was filled on August 13 with door, window and skylight manufacturer representatives who came out for the stakeholder meeting to discuss the draft of the revised ENERGY STAR® criteria released the previous week.

The new criteria differs from the current criteria in several ways:

• Revised climate zone boundaries more closely match national and state energy code climate zones;
• The new criteria includes a separate zone and stringent prescriptive criteria for windows in the Pacific Northwest in Phase 1;
• In the heating-dominated north (outside of the Pacific Northwest), windows must meet minimum annual energy performance;
• Traditional prescriptive maxima have been developed in the Central and Southern regions without equivalent performance criteria (trade-offs);
• Products must meet a new insulating glass unit (IGU) certification requirement relying on the anticipated National Fenestration Rating Council’s IGU certification requirement;
• The draft includes separate criteria for swinging entry doors that vary according to glazing area rather than climate zone; and
• The revised skylight criteria is more stringent, though less aggressive, than the door and window criteria.

Those in attendance had the opportunity to hear a panel of speakers including ENERGY STAR program manager Rich Karney; Stephen Bickel, Alice Dasek, Jordan Kelso and Emily Zachery of D&R International Ltd.; and Stephen Selkowitz and Josh Apte of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In addition, manufacturers and others had the opportunity to offer feedback on the criteria.

Much of the DOE’s presentation explained the rationale behind the new draft criteria.

“The market share of ENERGY STAR windows was around 50 percent in 2007,” Karney explained. “The ES label must provide some differentiation.”

Likewise, ENERGY STAR criteria matches that of the codes in some locales. “We wanted to create a climate zone map that would enable us to meet or beat codes in all parts of the country,” Bickel added.

In addition, the DOE is working to align the ENERGY STAR criteria more closely with that of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

After explanations and an overview, the panel encouraged stakeholders to provide feedback.

Timing seemed to be the overarching concern—both of the public comment period for the draft, which began August 14—and on the phase-in of the new criteria. American Architectural Manufacturer Association (AAMA) technical director John Lewis was the first of many to voice this concern.

“We’re asking for a 90-day review time,” he said. (The deadline is now October 17.)

The phase-in of the criteria also was a concern for some. The first phase of the criteria could be implemented as early as August 3, 2009, and Phase 2 is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013.

One suggestion was that Phase 1 be implemented in the winter, since summer typically is a busy season for manufacturers, and that Phase 2 be implemented on January 20, 2015—two years later than scheduled.

One of the main reasons most hope to push back the phase-in of the program is that Phase 2, in particular, will require some product upgrades and re-designs for many window manufacturers.

“What proportion of products that qualify today will qualify under the new criteria?” asked Bickel. “With the exception of [Climate Zone] ES5a, the majority will.”

For this zone, Bickel expects new products to be designed using argon gas and higher performance glass packages. However, he expects products will still be readily available, but did note that, for this zone, there currently are no qualifying continuous aluminum frame windows.

“These products exist, but not many people are making them,” he added.

Of course, with new products come additional costs. While DOE has shared its projections for cost increases with manufacturers, many in attendance noted that, in the end, it’s the consumer who’s going to pay for this. DOE estimates an approximate increase of 15 percent under the new criteria, particularly for windows designed to meet ES5 and ES5a’s criteria.

“There’s going to be a price for premium ES5 windows,” says Bickel.

Lewis fears what may happen when these costs are passed on to consumers.

“It very well could be that if we put the ES criteria in Phase 2, with the marginal cost increases, it’s possible that the product will cost so much that consumers won’t buy it and we’ll save less energy and will lose ground,” he said.

Several manufacturer representatives also questioned the new criteria—and the emphasis the criteria in general places on U-factors.

“U-factor is important, but it’s not the only thing,” said Thomas Culp of Birchpoint Consulting, who spoke on behalf of the Aluminum Extruders Council.

Gary Curtis of the Northwestern Energy Efficiency Alliance also noted the variables that can affect a U-factor.

“We believe the U-factor is a pretty solid measure, but occupant actions may affect the gains,” he said.

Though many argued too much emphasis still is placed on U-factors, the DOE has incorporated several trade-offs into the new criteria, in which a combination of a particular U-factor with a particular SHGC will meet the criteria.

“The idea is we have the overall goal of decreasing energy consumption in a home, and this can be achieved with different U-factor and SHGC combos,” Apte explained. “Then we calculate the change per unit.”

Lewis, however, pointed out that tradeoffs are not offered in the Southern zones in the current draft of the window criteria, and said that many AAMA members would like to see this return.

Bill Yanek, in his role as executive director of the Glazing Industry Code Committee, pointed out that he sees the trade-offs as a benefit to manufacturers and their customers.

“In pursuing greater energy conservation, maximizing the use of trade-offs will result in greater cost-effectiveness,” he said.

Architecture 2030 Publishes
White Paper on GHG Emissions
Glass and glazing products and technologies for commercial and residential applications offer a number of characteristics and features that can help buildings perform more energy efficiently. In an effort to promote the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector the nonprofit organization Architecture 2030 has released a white paper titled “Meeting the 2030 Challenge Through Building Codes.” The group’s 2030 challenge calls for a 50-percent reduction in energy consumption, including fossil fuel, GHG-emitting energy, of all new buildings and major renovations by 2010, and for incrementally increasing the reduction every five years so that all new buildings are carbon neutral by 2030.

“Implementing the 2030 Challenge targets through building codes creates a huge opportunity for everyone in the building sector to become a part of the solution to the climate change crisis, from architects and engineers, to glass and coatings manufacturers and installers,” says Edward Mazria, Architecture 2030 executive director.

“They will have a big impact,” says Tom Culp, energy code consultant with the Glazing Industry Code Committee, of the 2030 goals. “On the positive side, they will promote innovative design like integrated photovoltaics and daylighting, along with even further use of low-E and thermal break technologies. On the negative side, some architects could try to reduce glazing area, with the attitude that a wall always performs better than a window (ignoring the positive energy, productivity and social benefits of daylighting and vision area).”


© Copyright 2008 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.