Washington DC - The ENERGY STAR Program marked a sharp departure from its past practice of collaborating with industry partners to balance consumer accessibility against the need to raise efficiency standards over time with the final draft of Version 6.0 program requirements for residential windows, doors, and skylights, released today.
The program has taken an unjustified and unprecedented step to target a deep cut in the share of ENERGY STAR windows and skylights sold to average consumers. Past revisions have focused on incremental gains in efficiency that still would promise a reasonable payback period for fenestration products carrying the ENERGY STAR label. In an earlier Version 6.0 draft, the program admitted it set the proposed standards for windows with a goal of reaching "a market share of less than 50% after the Version 6.0 specification takes effect" from just over 80%. (Version 6.0 Draft 1 Criteria and Analysis Report, p8.)
"Because of the program's past success, consumers expect to recoup the cost of ENERGY STAR labeled products through energy savings in a reasonable period and they doubt the efficiency of products without the label," said Michael O'Brien, CEO of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. "Version 6.0 takes away reasonable payback periods for much of the country and will strip the ENERGY STAR label from affordable energy efficient products that do offer a fair payback period."
Fenestration industry leaders are not alone in their concerns about Version 6.0. The Coalition for Home Energy Efficiency, a coalition of environmental and consumer advocates, manufacturers, and retailers - launched a petition to save the ENERGY STAR program. The petition has gathered more than 20,000 signatures in a matter or several weeks over concerns that ENERGY STAR products will be priced out of reach of average consumers. A bipartisan group of 23 Congressmen signed a letter asking the Obama Administration to "re-examine the proposed ENERGY STAR specifications for windows, doors, and skylights to ensure that they are consistent with the guiding principles of the program."
Stakeholders repeatedly have raised concerns throughout the Version 6.0 revision process. The program has not responded directly to many of those concerns and has pointed to confidential data and a questionable methodology to justify its analysis. To meet their procedural requirements, the effective date has been shifted to Jan. 1, 2015 from Jan. 1, 2014. The U-factor for windows in the North-central zone has shifted to .30 from .29. But the area of greatest concern to consumers and the industry - the Northern zone criteria - remains unchanged. The Northern zone covers almost half of the country.
"To the program's credit, the final draft offered some concessions, but they did not address our primary concerns about transparency and fairness," said O'Brien. "This is a major set-back for average consumers and for the industry, which has been committed to improving energy efficiency standards over the last decades.
WDMA hopes to work closely with EPA to address the concerns of its members about the agency's recent lack of transparency and departure from the program's guiding principles during the Version 6.0 process. Looking forward to the Version 7.0 revision, WDMA members strongly encourage EPA to implement an open process that includes all stakeholders and remains true to ENERGY STAR's guiding principles.
"Industry partners, consumers and taxpayers have developed reasonable expectations about the goals of the ENERGY STAR program over two decades," said O'Brien. "Any changes to the program's mission should be discussed openly and stakeholders should play a role in that discussion."
About WDMA: Founded in 1927, the Window & Door Manufacturers Association is the premier trade association representing the leading manufacturers of residential and commercial window, door and skylight products for the domestic and export markets. WDMA members are focused on Total Product Performance™ products that are designed and built to performance-based standards. The association is focused on key member needs in the areas of advocacy, product performance, education and information and facilitating business interactions and relationships in the fenestration eco-system. For more information, please visit www.wdma.com.
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