With an Eye Toward EPDs, LEED and Green
Globes Focus More on Products
As work on Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for various
glazing products continues, and the broader certification landscape evolves,
programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
and the newer Green Globes are increasingly reflecting the trend toward
putting greater attention on individual products, say some experts.
Several industry groups including the Glass Association of North America
(GANA), American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Insulating Glass
Manufacturers Alliance and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association,
have been involved with the development of a Product Category Rule (PCR)
for windows, which must be put in place before an EPD can be created.
The work on this is nearly finished, according to Rita Schenck, executive
director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Education, which
serves as the program operator for the initiative. “We’re very near the
end of the process,” says Schenck.
Following the PCR, next on the agenda would be the EPD. That also requires
development, but once a PCR is in place, it could come as early as just
weeks of the PCR becoming final.
On a related note, NSF International, in collaboration with GANA’s Flat
Glass Manufacturing Division, has developed a PCR for flat and float glass.
Flat glass, for purposes of the PCR, includes sheet glass, plate glass,
rolled glass and float glass and is used in a wide range of architectural,
auto and decorative applications including windshields, curtainwall, doors,
windows and glass panels in furniture. The PCR provides both a science-based
and internationally recognized method for reporting the environmental
impact of glass products and materials throughout their life cycle from
cradle to gate, according to NSF International.
“Developing the flat glass PCR with NSF International is an important
next step toward a more sustainable future for the glass industry,” says
GANA technical director Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell. “This PCR will give glass
manufacturers an opportunity to identify and focus on reducing the environmental
impacts of their products and operations and to differentiate themselves
in the marketplace.”
Certifications such as LEED generally have focused on building systems
as a whole rather than individual products. “It’s hard to pull an element
out of a system,” says Kerry Haglund, acting executive director for the
Efficient Windows Collaborative. “So it’s hard to quantify an element
that’s just a piece of a system. It’s always hard to do that.”
Meanwhile, there’s been an otherwise increased focus on
products and life cycles, she notes. Green Globes, a certification program
of the Green Building Initiative (GBI) and a rival to LEED, is newer on
the scene, with 5 percent market share, according to Jerry Yudelson, president
of GBI. While Green Globes, too, focuses on the entire building system,
it has embraced the gravitation toward product assessment, he says. EPDs
have been part of Green Globes for some time. Underscoring the trend,
EPDs are now part of LEED—at least, as of its version four.
Why the push to products? Schenck points out that various studies have
questioned whether LEED buildings are actually more energy efficient than
non-LEED buildings. At least with EPDs, “I can be pretty confident of
that component [at least].” Such tweaks, she says, represent “a giant
step forward toward having real outcomes.”
Yudelson confirms that the window EPD is the kind of thing that Green
Globes would look to incorporate once it is available. He also notes that
this year GBI is reworking the Green Globes standard for new construction.
The glass industry is in a good position to take advantage of the new
product focus, particularly given the emerging technology that is changing
the product landscape. “To me, if I were in the glass business, I’d be
excited about the new technology opportunities for developing glass and
window systems to do a variety of things,” says Yudelson.
Meanwhile, it’s a big year for Green Globes, which not only has a new
standard in the works but has launched a marketing campaign as it works
to grow its modest 5 percent market share. Among Green Globes’s claims
to fame are that it’s more user friendly (web-based) and promises to be
faster and less expensive than LEED.
With recognition coming last fall from the General Services Administration
with respect to federal-building use, the brand is primed to make market
inroads—or so hopes Yudelson, who happens to be a LEED fellow himself
and has been at the helm of GBI for just a few months. GBI’s plans for
Green Globes: 25 percent market share within five years. —Carl Levesque
New Legislation Offers Opportunity to Increase Usage
of Energy-Efficient Glazing
Recently introduced legislation could
be a positive step forward for the commercial glazing industry. In April
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives
Act (S. 2189), restoring energy efficiency tax incentives, specifically
the 179D tax deduction for commercial buildings, which expired in 2013.
The 179D provision currently allows building owners to claim a tax deduction
of $1.80 per square foot of building area to install systems that reduce
the total energy and power costs by 50 percent or more when compared with
a reference building. The deduction applies to nearly all commercial,
high-rise multifamily residential, health care, institutional, public,
and educational facilities. It also allows public building owners to allocate
the deduction to the designer of energy efficient property. Senator Cardin’s
bill raises the tax deduction to $3 per square foot, among other improvements.
Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North
America (GANA), says the organization is in support of such tax credits
that favor the construction industry.
“Over the course of the past few years, especially as commercial construction
continued to struggle, GANA supported tax policies that would spur commercial
construction,” says Yanek. “With regard to energy efficient construction,
tax incentives are especially important to help offset initial commercial
construction/improvement investment that may only prove financially viable
over a long period of time.”
Noting that buildings are responsible for roughly 40 percent of all energy
consumed in the U.S., Yanek adds that GANA urges Congress to renew and
strengthen the 179D tax deduction.
“More widespread use of energy-efficient glazing in commercial buildings
represents one of the most readily available methods to improve building
energy performance,” says Yanek. “Glazing systems have made dramatic advances
in energy efficiency during the past decade. By replacing the existing
glazing with modern materials and systems, commercial buildings can realize
significant energy savings. 179D helps ensure that the right incentives
exist for people to invest in energy efficient building materials to realize
Likewise, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)
agrees that bill is important. “This legislation will allow commercial,
multi-family and residential property owners to invest in properly retrofitting
the building envelope to ensure that sourced energy is not wasted. Through
S2189, building owners can make energy-efficiency improvements using a
systematic and methodological approach, which begins with incorporating
the technologically-advanced fenestration products available today,” says
Maureen Knight, AAMA’s government affairs/ product stewardship manager.
“The increase of the 179D allowance to a $3/square-foot maximum for achieving
a 50 percent or higher source energy savings offers the type of incentive
that prompts building owners to invest in energy efficiency. And, homeowners
will benefit greatly through the substantive credits offered for investing
in energy-efficient products that decrease their energy consumption.”
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