Volume 44, Issue 5 - May 2009

News Now

DOE Releases Final Revised Criteria for Energy Star®

The Department of Energy (DOE) has released the final revised criteria for Energy Star-qualified doors, windows and skylights. It includes the following items:

1. Phased implementation. According to an announcement from DOE, stakeholders generally supported postponing finalization of Phase 2 criteria. “Since it is still three to four years until the likely effective date for these criteria, DOE is deferring finalization of these criteria to allow for additional data collection and analysis,” Rich Karney, program manager wrote in a letter issued on April 7 to Energy Star stakeholders. “The department will begin research on a Phase 2 proposal in late 2009.” 

2. Revised four-zone climate zone map. The revised map includes four climate zones and geography-based zone names. 

3. Category shift for sliding glass doors. Sliding glass doors will now be present in the door category for the criteria, rather than the windows category. 

4. Revised criteria. In the North, DOE has retained the criteria levels and limited tradeoffs from the revised draft report. DOE had adjusted the U-factor for doors in the < ½-lite category; in addition, DOE has set the solar heat gain coefficient for doors to match the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). For skylights, the criteria listed in the original draft will be retained, based on IECC levels. 

5. Tubular Daylighting Devices. While some stakeholders had suggested that tubular daylighting devices be removed from the program, DOE has decided to continue to include these under the criteria for doors, windows and skylights, “under the condition that manufacturers provide documentation showing the product U-factors are rated under NFRC’s [the National Fenestration Rating Council] computer simulation procedure.” 

6. Insulating Glass (IG) certification. DOE will require IG certification for Energy Star-qualified doors, windows and skylights as soon as NFRC makes this certification mandatory, expected in July 2010. 

7. Shipment data requirement. While stakeholders supported DOE’s potential solution to the requirement for reporting product shipment data, the final draft notes that this will help DOE measure the impact of the program, but is still discussing whether this method is plausible. 

DOE rejected the following possibilities for the program:

1. Exemptions for specialized products. Several industry representatives suggested that DOE allow an exception to the U-factor values for high-altitude products, whiles others suggested separate criteria for high-impact products; DOE plans to compile data on these topics and analyze it for Phase 2.

2. Reference products for building packages. Some industry representatives had suggested that a “package” of windows be allowed when equipped with a single glass package but various operator types. The DOE has rejected this suggestion, noting it could cause consumers to “mistakenly believe all windows they purchased qualified for applicable incentives offered in their region.” 

3. Elimination of the map on the product label. Karney notes that removing the climate zone map from the product label “would compromise the effectiveness of the label.” 

4. Air infiltration requirement. While some stakeholders suggested that there be a mandatory air infiltration requirement, DOE has not included this in the new criteria based on the fact that there’s not a consistent way to evaluate air infiltration performance and for the consumer to verify performance claims, according to the announcement. 

5. Certified Product Directory number and code readjustment requirements. DOE has eliminated these from the final criteria. 

6. Orientation, shading and glazing requirements. DOE notes that setting these requirements was not feasible because they deal with the installation of the windows and Energy Star typically is aimed at the replacement market “where orientation and shading are predetermined.” The revised Energy Star program requirements for doors, windows and skylights will go into effect January 4, 2010. A transition period will run through March 31, 2010. 

Freedom Tower Follow-Up: Senator Schumer and Safety Group Calls for Change

There has been much industry response to the USGlass investigative report regarding the glass for One World Trade Center being manufactured in China after U.S. companies provided much of the development work (see April 2009 USGlass, page 30). The New York ABC affiliate highlighted the story in April based on the article. In that report New York Senator Charles Schumer called for a rescinding of the glass contract. Also in response to that article, the Skyscraper Safety Campaign (SSC) held a press conference regarding this issue.

“It is a well-known fact that numerous Chinese products have inconsistent and questionable quality standards,” said Glenn Corbett of John Jay College in New York, chief technical advisor to the SSC, during the press conference.

“In addition to grave safety concerns, the use of Chinese glass in the Freedom Tower is a slap in the face to every hardworking American worker who has lost his or her job in this time of economic crisis,” he added. “President Obama has called for jobs to remain in this country so that U.S. citizens can remain gainfully employed.”

Corbett also was concerned about the fact that the Freedom Tower is an extremely sensitive building in terms of security. “The type and quality of glass is one of the most important considerations when designing a terrorism-resistant building,” he said. “It is critical that the design and fabrication of the Freedom Tower glazing meet the highest possible quality standards. Does all of the glass for the Freedom Tower meet the standards of organizations such as ASTM and the Department of Defense?”

The SSC called for the following immediate actions in the press conference:
• For the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegation to initiate a federal probe into the legality of the glass contract with China; • For the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to explain why no American glass company received this contract, and to answer the question why American union workers have been overlooked;
• For the PANYNJ to immediately void the Chinese glass contract and use U.S. products instead; and 
• For the PANYNJ to show the public exactly which standards were used to design the glass. 

While the name of the Chinese glass manufacturer has not been confirmed, a PPG technology licensee has not been ruled out as a possibility. 

The April story included this statement from Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman: “Our contract is with DCM/Solera. That firm hired a sub, Zetian, an American company, to procure the glass from a Chinese manufacturer which is producing the ‘starlite’ low-iron glass under the Pittsburgh glass license.”

Rob Struble, business commercial manager for PPG’s Performance Glazings division, confirmed to USGlass that PPG has a technology license with Shandong Glass Group that includes low-iron (but not Starphire) glass. “Our agreement does not allow them to ship to the U.S. unless it is fabricated in China or part of a finished good,” Struble says.

“We still are of a mind that the glass used on the project should be the specified Starphire and sourced locally,” he adds. 

It is important to point out that this license is not for Starphire as PPG does not license that technology. PPG licenses low-iron and other float glass technologies around the world, including oxy-fuel which enables glass makers to reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact. PPG’s patent for low-iron glass dates back to 1989.

“Other glass companies also market low-iron and low-iron glass making technologies globally,” Struble says.

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