Energy Star® Top Tier Sidesteps Windows
by Ken Brenden
The Energy Star program for doors, windows and skylights
is in the midst of a comprehensive and aggressive revamp, based on a September
30, 2009, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Improving the Energy Efficiency
of Products and Buildings between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). At that time, EPA became
the lead agency on the Energy Star program while DOE offers technical
support and administers the National Building Rating program.
Following up on the MOU, DOE/EPA issued the Enhanced Program Plan for
Energy Star Products on December 2, 2009. Under the plan, Energy star
becomes a two-tiered program, encompassing the existing scope of Energy
Star aimed at a 25 percent or less market share, and a top-tier—tentatively
known as “ENERGY SuperStar”—that covers approximately five percent of
the top-performing products in a given category. Decisions about the exact
make-up of the top-tier program were scheduled to be made in December,
in preparation for a January 2011 introduction.
In partial reaction to accusations of fraudulent labeling, DOE/EPA has
decreed that all Energy Star products will be required to be tested in
an EPA/DOE accredited laboratory before the product can be qualified as
Energy Star—as many fenestration products already are required to submit
"For the time being, Phase Two
for fenestration products will consist of further tightening of fenestration
criteria, which will be accomplished by the usual focus on lower U-factors
in most or all climate zones and adjusting SHGC in some climate zones."
Initially, the top-tier program will include the six following product
categories: clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, TVs, air conditioning
units and heating equipment. Products whose performance can be affected
by climate or installation, including windows, will not be offered with
this initial product group.
What? No Windows?
Of some surprise to our industry, a top-tier program for fenestration
products is not currently in the works, although it may be considered
in the future. “EPA’s focus now is on the next specification revision
for windows, doors and skylights,” EPA representative Doug Anderson told
DWM magazine in October (see related story in November-December DWM, page
18). “[In the meantime], manufacturers who wish to participate in a high-performance
window program … should consider DOE’s R-5 Volume Windows Program.”
So, for the time being, “Phase Two” for fenestration products will consist
of further tightening of fenestration criteria. This will be accomplished
by the usual focus on lower U-factors in most or all climate zones and
by adjusting SHGC in some climate zones, as well as by expanding education
on shading and orientation. Minimum air leakage requirements and mandating
some form of structural testing may be added as well.
The process of developing the new criteria is now underway with initial
analysis and research. This has included consumer research to better understand
the market for energy-efficient products. The research has reflected that
the target consumer represents a small subset of the U.S. population and
already has an awareness of environmental problems. This target consumer
is most likely in the range of 35-64 years in age, and most of these are
Consumer research also revealed that the web is an extremely important
tool in researching large purchases, and, because of this, it is vital
to have information online that is both in-depth as well as updated frequently.
Following the research and analysis stage, the criteria upgrade project
includes the following milestone dates:
• July 2011 – Preliminary criteria published;
• August 2011 – April 2012: Rounds of comment periods and final criteria
• May 2012 – Publish new program requirements; and
• March 2013 – Criteria takes effect.
Ken Brenden serves as technical services manager for the American
Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.