Dissecting Star Programs: Energy, Home
by Ken Brenden
New energy performance rating and incentive programs, the
Home Star residential retrofit program, and a complimentary program for
commercial buildings, Building Star, currently are traversing through
Congress. Meanwhile, the Energy Star® program is receiving a major
Home Star, officially introduced in the House of Representatives as The
Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (HR 5019) and unofficially dubbed
“Cash for Caulkers,” calls for rebates direct to homeowners who invest
in qualifying home energy efficiency improvements, including replacement
doors and windows . As of this writing, the bill had passed the House
Energy and Commerce Committee and was slated to move to a vote by the
full chamber, followed by a Senate vote.
The program proposes two levels of participation. The Silver Star incentive
level focuses on specific energy-saving measures such as window replacement
and provides cash rebates for 50 percent of project costs up to a $1,500
maximum. The program as proposed would cover a project “that replaces
at least eight exterior windows or skylights or 75 percent of the exterior
windows and skylights in a home, whichever is less, with windows or skylights
that are certified by NFRC.”
The performance-based Gold Star incentive offers higher rebate amounts
for consumers who develop a customized retrofit plan based on a thorough
energy audit. Homeowners can receive $3,000 for modeled savings of 20
percent, plus $1,500 for each additional five percent of modeled energy
savings, with incentives not to exceed 50 percent of total project costs.
Recommended measures can include replacement doors and windows.
The Home Star proposal also attempts to impose new quality assurance standards
covering contractor accreditation and workforce training and certification.
While the measures do not mention anything related specifically to door
and window installation, they give latitude for the Department of Energy
(DOE) to recognize various existing programs. Accordingly, AAMA is working
to gain recognition of the InstallationMasters™ program, now with 10,000
program participants under its belt, as the preferred option for qualifying
can receive $3,000 for modeled savings of 20 percent,
plus $1,500 for each additional five percent of modeled energy savings."
As Home Star is to residential, Building Star is to commercial. Introduced
in the Senate as S 3079 on March 26 and referred to the Senate Environment
and Natural Resources Committee, it would provide rebates and tax incentives
to building owners for energy retrofits in commercial and multi-family
Building Star’s proposed rebates would cover approximately 30 percent
of the cost of installing energy-efficient products and/or providing related
services. Qualifying windows would be eligible for $150 or $300 per unit.
As this legislation unfolds, the Energy Star program for doors, windows
and skylights is facing a comprehensive and aggressive revamp. Under the
new regime, EPA becomes the lead agency on the Energy Star program while
DOE offers technical support.
Energy Star will also become a two-tiered program encompassing both its
existing scope aimed at a 25 percent or less market share, plus a new
top-tier—to be known as “Super Star”—for the approximately five percent
of top-performing products.
AAMA supports both Home Star and Building Star as means to get more contractors
back to work and spur production of qualified products designed to reduce
energy use and associated costs for homeowners and building owners. We
will, however, remain watchful that their performance criteria, compliance
timelines, standards and testing and certification protocols reflect real-world
capability at a cost-benefit balance that will enable them to reach their
admirable goals. y
Ken Brenden serves as technical services manager for the American
Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be
reached at email@example.com.
His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this
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