Volume 45, Issue 4 - April 2010


Industry Approves of Building STAR Legislation—with Commercial Caveats

Recently introduced legislation that could help spur new jobs for the construction industry has seen a largely favorable response from members of the glass and fenestration industries. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), co-sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), introduced the Building STAR Energy Efficiency Rebate Act of 2010 on March 4. The “Building STAR” bill is intended to create jobs by promoting the installation of energy-efficient renovations in commercial and multi-family residential buildings. By utilizing rebates and low-interest loans, the Building STAR program leverages between two and three dollars in private investment for every federal dollar spent.

“Buildings represent 40 percent of the energy used in the United States, and many have old equipment that waste energy and money,” says Senator Pryor. “Investing in energy-efficiency retrofits for industrial, commercial and multi-family buildings can drive economic recovery by saving small businesses money, spurring construction and manufacturing and creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs across America.”

The rebates would cover approximately 30 percent of the cost of installing energy-efficient products and/or providing related services. Windows, for example, must have a maximum U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient as certified to National Fenestration Rating Council standards. The only downside, from the perspective of the commercial glass industry, is that curtainwall and storefront windows would not be eligible for the rebate, as the bill is currently written.

“On the surface, the Building STAR program certainly appears to have the potential to provide significant benefits … however, we will continue to monitor the details of this proposed legislation as they become available,” says Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America (GANA). “Significant energy savings could be realized through energy-efficient renovations in commercial and multi-family residential buildings that focuses on energy-efficient glass and glazing.”

Although supportive of the overall bill, GANA has released a position paper for the industry calling for proposed improvements for commercial windows and glazing. Pointing out flaws in the current draft version of the legislation, the paper offers various proposed corrections in order to properly define what commercial fenestration qualifies for rebates. It also addresses other issues in the proposed legislation, such as the requirement of NFRC certification for circumstances in which NFRC ratings can’t apply, including glazing-only replacements.

Rich Walker, president and chief executive office of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) agrees that the legislation is a positive step, although AAMA is one of several organizations that has supported changes to the bill.

“Spurring retrofits of commercial and multi-family buildings through Building STAR can start to reverse the downward trend in construction and manufacturing by leveraging private-sector investment to create jobs,” Walker says. “We believe the Building STAR program should be included in the federal ‘jobs bill’ because it would help create at least 150,000 high-quality jobs during 2010 in every part of the country. We encourage individuals to contact their Senators to express support for the bill.”

Building STAR is expected to begin creating jobs immediately and is projected to create as many as 150,000 jobs in some of the economy’s hardest-hit sectors, including the construction industry, over the next two years. In addition, Building STAR is expected to save building owners more than $3 billion on their energy bills annually by reducing enough peak electricity demand to avoid the need for thirty-three 300-megawatt power plants. It will also reduce the pollution that contributes to climate change by 21 million metric tons, or the equivalent of nearly 4 million cars’ emissions each year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Building STAR is similar to “Home STAR,” a parallel program put forward to offer energy-efficiency assistance to homeowners.


Wisconsin’s Union Glaziers Open New Training Center
On February 1 Painters and Allied Trades District Council No. 7, an affiliate of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), started operating out of its new offices and training center in Big Bend, Wis. The new center has approximately 40,000 square feet of dedicated training space of which about one third is being used for glazing apprentice instruction.

“We are excited to finally be able to offer our glazing contractors a significant cant improvement in the training of glazing apprentices,” says IUPAT training director Adam Holmes. “We hope this will translate into improved profit margins for them, as well as a closer working relationship.”

Joel Allen, business representative for IUPAT District Council No. 7, explains that the new building more than quadruples the previous training center, and improves accessibility by combining the training ground and offices into one location.

“It is quite impressive, but it is still a big empty space right now,” Allen says of the brand new facility. “We’ve got the skeleton of the glazing mock-up set up right now, and it’s huge.”

The more than $40,000 mock-up currently is being adapted so that apprentices in other trades—drywall finishing and painting apprentices also are trained here—can use it as well.

“We are working toward being able to offer training and certification in the installation of [skylight systems], as well as point-supported training … This will be in addition to the storefront, curtainwall, mirror and heavy tempered instruction we do normally,” Allen adds.

At this point the district is still waiting for increases in numbers of apprentices, but Allen is optimistic that the new training center will soon be put to good use.

“We had a very large lot going through and of course a lot of them have completed—but we are interviewing a lot of people,” he says. He adds, “Work in our area is projected to pick up this spring, and then 2011 is considered to be turn-around year.”

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