Volume 12, Issue 4 - May 2011

Energy and Environmental News

Life Cycle Analysis Moves Forward

The industry is getting closer to life cycle analysis data for windows, for both the commercial and residential industries, but before research groups can move forward, some say further funding is needed. That was the message from Kerry Haglund, senior research fellow, Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota, when she addressed members of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) during the association’s recent annual meeting. (Haglund also spoke to members of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance as well as to members of the Glass Association of North America during Glass Week in March.)

Haglund explained that life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analytical method used to comprehensively quantify and interpret the environmental flows to and from the environment (including emissions to air, land, and water, as well as the consumption of energy and material resources), over the entire life cycle of a product (or process or service). However, what’s available is limited.

“There is no current LCA data for windows in the United States,” said Haglund. However, the University of Minnesota and the Athena Institute are working to gather this data for the residential market, and, once collected, it will be entered into the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s national database. The National Institute for Standards and Technology also is looking into LCA, she explained.

Haglund said she has heard requests from both the Department of Energy’s Energy Star® program and door and window manufacturers for LCA data. But Haglund said more is needed, and asked AAMA to contribute $60,000 for phase one and $24,000 for phase two so the Center can continue its efforts. She also requested the same amount from the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. An additional $30,000 for phase one and $18,000 for phase two has been requested from both IGMA and GANA. At press time, Haglund told DWM magazine that she hadn’t heard from any of the associations regarding funding decisions.

USDA to Promote Wood as Green Building Material
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in April the USDA’s strategy to promote the use of wood as a green building material. Vilsack outlined a three-part plan addressing the Forest Service’s and USDA’s current green building practices.

“Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials. Forest Service studies show that wood compares favorably to competing materials,” says Vilsack.

The strategy includes the following parts:

1. The U.S. Forest Service will preferentially select wood in new building construction while maintaining its commitment to certified green building standards. USDA will also make a commitment to using wood and other agricultural products as it fulfills President Obama’s executive order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.

2. The Secretary has asked the U.S. Forest Service to examine ways to increase its already strong commitment to green building by reporting on ways to enhance the research and development being done around green building materials.

3. The U.S. Forest Service will actively look for opportunities to demonstrate the innovative use of wood as a green building material for all new structures of 10,000 square feet or more using recognized green building standards such as LEED, Green Globes or the National Green Building Standard.

In carrying out this initiative, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issued a directive to all units calling for increased use of locally milled timber in all new agency buildings and facilities. Secretary Vilsack also directed the heads of all other USDA agencies to incorporate the Forest Service policy of using domestic sustainable wood products as the preferred green building material for all USDA facilities and buildings.


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