Volume 15, Issue 2 - March-April 2011



Administration Unveils “Better Buildings Initiative”

In February, President Obama unveiled a “Better Buildings Initiative” with a goal of making commercial buildings 20-percent more energy-efficient by 2020 through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings.

This new commercial component initiative builds on investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the proposed HOMESTAR legislation that encourages energy saving upgrades in homes.

During a speech at Penn State University, the President proposed a plan to make American businesses more energy-efficient through a series of five new initiatives:
New tax incentives for building efficiency: A redesign of the current tax deduction is proposed for commercial building upgrades, changing the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and that will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts to retrofit their properties. These changes could result in a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofit take up, leveraging job-creating investments.

More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits: To address gaps in access to financing, the Small Business Administration is working to encourage existing lenders to take advantage of recently increased loan size limits to promote new energy efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses. The President’s budget will also propose a new pilot program through the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy-efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.

“Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects: The budget will propose new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encouraging upgrades and attracting private sector investment.

The Better Buildings Challenge: The President is challenging CEOs and university presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy, which will save them money and improve productivity. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient. They will, in turn, become eligible for benefits including public recognition, technical assistance and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.

Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers: Using existing authorities, the administration is working to implement a number of reforms, including improving transparency around energy efficiency performance, launching a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership modeled on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Commerce and providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.

Virginia House Bill Could Change Tinting Laws and Inspection Fees
A bill introduced to the Virginia House of Representatives could alter Virginia’s current tint laws and allow for vehicles with tint to be charge a higher fee for their state inspection. The bill, Virginia HB 1728 2011, would increase the allowed amount of tint on the front side windows to decrease permitted light transmittance. Currently the minimum permitted light transmittance is 50%, but this bill would change that to 35%.

In addition to changing the current tinting laws the bill also would increase the cost of a Virginia safety inspection by $4 for all vehicles with any type of aftermarket window tint on the front side, rear side and rear windows.

“We do not object to a reasonable inspection charge being levied against window film, if standard practice dictates an inspection charge for all other after-market products which require inspection,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). “We would object to window film being treated differently or subject to additional charges that are not incurred across regulated automotive retrofit products as a category.”

The bill has made its way through house committees and was passed to the Senate on February 1. At the time of press, the bill was passed by indefinitely in the Committee on Transportation with a letter, which was sent to the Secretary of Public Safety and Virginia State Police.

Steve Phillips: “I’m Here to Stay.”

In August 2010, SunTek Holding Co. (Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Inc. [CLC]) brought in new financial investors leading to rumors that staff changes would soon be forthcoming. Cleveland-based Riverside Co. sold its interest in the company to two new investors, Fenway Partners and Transportation Resource Partners. Fenway Partners is associated with the Penske Automotive Group.

CLC president and CEO Steve Phillips spoke with Window Film magazine in an exclusive interview to address these rumors.

“Those rumors are absolutely not true. There is no change either for me or for any of the management team nor is there a plan for any change,” he says. “ You can say with any luck that I hope to be with the company for the next
15 years.”

“My ownership of the company is approximately the same as it has been for the last 12 years. That hasn’t changed,” says Phillips. “I continue to be president and chief executive officer. I continue to be a board member and a principal investor. That did not change when Riverside invested nor does it change now.”

According to Phillips, the transition has been completed and CLC is moving forward with its future plans.

“Riverside did an excellent job supporting us over the last four years in terms of capital expansion and building the company. The record speaks for itself,” comments Phillips.

“In looking at the next five years, we wanted to be in a position to continue to support the company’s growth and plans for expansion. By having Fenway Partners and the Penske Group investing it puts us in position to take the next step,” says Phillips. “It’s part of our overall growth plan and as we continue to grow and expand we need different financial partners at different stages.” wf

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