Volume 44, Issue 8 - August 2009

Energy & Environment

Industry Reacts to House Passage of Clean Energy and Security Act
The House of Representatives’ passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act brings with it challenges as well as opportunities for the glass industry. While many in the glass industry have concern about the cap-and-trade system, if signed into law the bill would also have a significant impact on commercial buildings—bringing opportunity for increased use of energy-efficient glazing.

The act would require glass manufacturers to absorb either the increased cost of carbon emissions (via cap-and-trade) or the increased cost of having to deal with additional state and federal regulation. As part of the cap-and-trade system, manufacturers would be provided an allowance of annual carbon credits. Those manufacturers that are below established emission maximums would be able to sell or trade carbon allowances to other companies so that those companies could produce more carbon than the legally established limit. Some in the industry say these increased costs could significantly affect the ability of flat glass manufacturers to do business in North America, as producers in non-regulated countries, such as China or India, would not be required to meet the regulation.

Some groups, including the Glass Association of North America (GANA), have been actively involved, speaking out to Congress on behalf of the industry.

“As climate change legislation moves to the United States Senate, GANA plans to communicate with Senators regarding the recently released GANA document outlining the flat glass industry’s position on climate change legislation,” says Bill Yanek, GANA executive vice president. “With regard to what passed … GANA obviously is encouraged about the alternative energy aspects of the legislation and that energy-intensive industries such as glass are given consideration on the initial distribution of emissions permits.”

In addition to the carbon emissions costs are very stringent requirements for reducing energy use. Effective on the date of enactment, the law would call for a 30-percent reduction in energy use relative to a comparable building constructed in compliance with the baseline code (Note: baseline code for commercial structures is the code published in ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004). Effective January 1, 2015, this requirement increases to a 50-percent reduction in energy use relative to the baseline code for commercial buildings. Effective January 1, 2018, and every three years thereafter through January 1, 2030, a 5-percent additional reduction in energy use relative to the baseline code for commercial buildings would be required.

The act also states that the “secretary shall consider ways to support the deployment of distributed renewable energy technology, and shall seek to achieve the goal of zero-net-energy commercial buildings” (a commercial building that requires a reduced quantity of energy to operate and has no net emissions of greenhouse gases).

Technologies and design approaches that can help enable the construction of net-zero energy buildings may also represent an opportunity for the glass and fenestration industries. This could include further development of highly insulating glass and window packages.

The legislation also notes a requirement for national energy efficiency building codes for both commercial and residential buildings. This would be established no later than one year after the deadline for establishment of each target (meeting the 50-percent energy use reduction and the additional 5-percent reduction every three years thereafter, as noted above).

In addition to its potential impact on glass manufacturers and commercial design and construction, the bill would also affect the Energy Star program.

The legislation calls for the establishment and implementation of a rating system for Energy Star products. The rating system would be developed within 18 months of the enactment of the bill, “unless the Administrator and the Secretary communicate to Congress that establishing such a system would diminish the value of the Energy Star brand to consumers.” The bill also would require a review of the Energy Star product criteria for the ten product models in each product category with the greatest energy consumption at least once every three years.

As of press time, the bill had been received in the Senate.

Buildings Seeking LEED to Provide Performance Data
As part of LEED v3, the latest version of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) program for green building design, construction, operations and maintenance, buildings seeking LEED certification will begin submitting operational performance data on a recurring basis as a precondition to certification. USGBC will use the performance information collected to inform future versions of LEED.

“Today there is all too often a disconnect, or performance gap, between the energy modeling done during the design phase and what actually happens during daily operation after the building is constructed,” says Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED. “We’re convinced that ongoing monitoring and reporting of data is the single best way to drive higher building performance because it will bring to light external issues such as occupant behavior or unanticipated building usage patterns, all key factors that influence performance.”

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