Promoting Energy-Efficient Products
by Alecia Ward
Local and regional window manufacturers have much to gain from the manufacture, promotion, labeling and sale of high-performance, energy-efficient products. In a cut-throat regional environment where fabricators are trying to position themselves in the marketplace to edge out their local competition on the margins and their national competition on price and installation, energy-efficient products can be the differentiation local fabricators are looking for.
Fabricators will argue that the component parts, labeling and marketing costs are all too expensive. Lets dispel each of these myths.
Now that all five of the major glass suppliers to the residential sector are manufacturing traditional low-emissivity (low-E) products for the northern climates and low-solar gain low-E products for the central and southern region, the price of that upgrade is marginalas low as a few cents per square foot. Now that high-performance framing materials, and the technology to improve aluminum framing techniques with thermal breaks are becoming widespread, that argument is no longer valid. The cost of improving your product (if it even requires any improvement to qualify) is as low as it has ever been.
Many fabricators claim that the cost of National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labeling is too expensive. Consider this: each fabricator already makes claims about his or her product that he or she is not able to substantiate without a label. If you are going to make claims that your marketing folks have to use to sell your product, why not give them a tool to sell it with? Each fabricator already engages in American Architectural Manufacturing Association and/or Window and Door Manufacturers Association air, water and structural testing to determine minimum code compliance. Each fabricator invests millions in the design and manufacture of its product. Why not add NFRC testing to your total rating and labeling portfolio? Framing fabricators can also make this a little easier. If you are a vinyl fabricator, your supplier may already have NFRC certification for his or her profile, in which case the cost to you may be even less than you think. As for the cost of the labeling itself, the price is about one penny per window.
Why should local and regional fabricators begin using high-performance component parts, rating and labeling their products with the NFRC label, and participating in the ENERGY STAR® program and organizations like the Efficient Windows Collaborative? Marketing. Your competitors at the national level have invested millions in the marketing and promotion of the ENERGY STAR label as it relates to their products. Now, in the residential fabricators market, where successful smaller regional companies are being bought up at record pace, doesnt it make sense to differentiate your product and give marketing support to your sales staff? This will allow you to get a bigger share of the total regional fenestration sales.
Finally, there are other groups promoting the manufacture, promotion, labeling and sale of energy-efficient fenestration products in the country. In the Northwest, a group called the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is coordinating a regional marketing campaign to promote the sales of energy-efficient products and has moved that market to a higher level of efficiency. In the Northeast, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership is coordinating a regional high-performance windows initiative. And, in the Midwest, a new group called the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance will begin promoting high-performance windows in the early part of 2001. In addition to these regional groups, Texas will invest several million dollars over the course of the next few years to promote energy efficient, NFRC labeled, ENERGY STAR, qualifying windows. California already has invested millions in the development of more efficient products and the installation and specification of those products.
Think about how your company might benefit from leveraging all of these national activities. It is in the best interest of both you and your customers.
Alecia Ward serves as executive director of the newly formed Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance based in Chicago.
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