Volume 15, Issue 2 - March-April 2011


The Window Film Industry Speaks
Members of the Window Film Community Comment on the President’s “Better Buildings Initiative”

Earlier this year, President Obama unveiled a five-point “Better Buildings Initiative” intended to make commercial buildings 20-percent more energy-efficient by 2020 by catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives that promote energy-efficient building upgrades.

President Obama stressed in his speech, at Penn State University on February 3, the importance of energy-efficiency to both the environment and the economy.

“Making our buildings more energy-efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America,” said the President in his speech.

“The problem for both homeowners and businesses is they’ll recover the money that they make by lowering their utility bills, but they may not have the cash upfront,” continued the President. “And, if we can provide the American people an incentive, you’ll recover that money. You’ll get it back. And in the meantime, we’re making our entire economy more efficient. So steps like these also can boost manufacturing and private sector jobs.”

Window film companies, manufacturers and groups have been sharing their thoughts and outlook on what this initiative could mean for the window film industry.

What is the “Better Buildings Initiative?”

The proposed program features five points that will strive to make commercial buildings 20-percent more energy-efficient by 2020. The five points consist of:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. “Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects.

4. 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.

5. 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.
For more information on the “Better Buildings Initiative” see page 16.

Chris DeLuca, owner, All Pro Window Tinting in Canton, Ga.
"I think it’s a great idea however, with the way the economy is going, if you are a small fish in this big pond and competing with the big companies, you need to make sure you are in with an energy performance company in order to be able to work things. It’s kind of broad. If someone puts in high-efficiency glass, then there is no sense in installing window film. It all depends on if it’s retrofitting or just new products. If it’s retrofitting than it can work for window film."

Kathryn Giblin, vice president of global marketing, Bekaert Specialty Films in San Diego, Calif.
"We are … excited to see Obama’s ‘Better Building Initiative’ align with our goals to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings across the United States. As the only window film manufacturer to register an Environmental Product Declaration based on a full Life Cycle Analysis of our energy saving architectural solar control window films, Solar Gard is uniquely positioned to assist small businesses, commercial buildings and universities meet their energy goals. We are proud to offer a carbon-effective and cost-effective energy solution and look forward to the opportunities the ‘Better Buildings Initiative’ will provide the window film industry."

Steve Mank, owner, American Window Tinting Inc. in Denver, CO "On the surface, it appears that these measures would be a boon to the film industry. However, his incentives amount to government subsidies, which I am opposed to. The only way many of these measures will be fiscally attractive to the private sector is through significant government subsidies which cost taxpayers inordinately more than the subsidies save. After all the dust settles, we’ll likely find that all the program served to do is artificially inflate industry sales ... see the Carter admin oil shale subsidies."

Rob Oranges, business development manager, Vision Quest Distributing in Sparks, Nev.
"Incentives, and especially financing, are critical in the retrofit market because most people are already convinced that they need to make improvements to their buildings, the problem is that they just do not have the available cash to do so. This initiative is a great idea but as with all ideas and politics, a lot of details can change from the time of inception to actual implementation. We will have to see how this all plays out. There is no doubt though that huge potential exists for the window film industry. Retrofit is our primary market and now the Federal Government is proposing to incentivize it like never before. As an industry I feel that there is nowhere for us to go but up as far as rebates, incentives, and financing are concerned."

Lewis Pitzer, special projects coordinator, American Standard Window Film in Las Vegas
"The Better Building Initiative from Obama would likely have a great impact on our industry. Any energy efficiency upgrade to commercial buildings should consider retrofitting existing glazing with window films. Our industry offers excellent, durable, high performance films that deliver measurable reductions in energy consumption providing a very reasonable pay-back period. Products from our industry also offer the additional benefits of enhancing appearance, increasing safety and improving the interior environment. I am confident that products from our industry would figure prominently into a Better Building Initiative and that our industry is prepared to meet the increased demand that will likely result from this program."

Alison Schell, vice president of 3M energy conservation, 3M Renewable Energy Division in St. Paul, Minn.
"The Administration’s recently announced building energy efficiency initiatives will enhance the deployment of energy efficient technologies, while also assisting manufacturers in advancing technologies to improve the energy performance of windows. 3M has been actively investing in the development of transformational window films, striving toward even more advanced game-changing technologies. The funding support we received last year from the Department of Defense and Department of Energy has assisted us in this effort. In addition, we are excited to be a part of the Penn State Center for High Performance Building Systems (CHiPBS) that is working to push the envelope towards developing zero energy buildings in both the retrofit and new construction markets. We believe that window film manufacturers and the entire nation could benefit from these efforts to help our country realize its energy efficiency goals."

Darrell Smith, executive director, International Window Film Association (IWFA)
"The announcement by the President is very encouraging news for the window film industry. We know that the use of energy control window films is one of the most readily available, technologically proven, cost effective, and environmentally friendly measures which can be taken to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. However, in the past several years there have been many well-intended programs which either have not come to fruition due to inadequate funding, difficulty in implementation, or else did not get enough political consensus to get Congressional approval. For these reasons, until we can see the details of an actual funded program ready to go, it is hard to gauge the real value of such a proposal by the President. It does show that the issue is still on the minds of the country’s leadership and should get much press coverage and discussion, even if there are no other results. As an industry, we will be tracking progress on these types of programs closely."

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