Volume 33, Number 4, April 1998

USG Openings - 4/98

Opening Up Efficient Windows

EWC To Double Use of Efficient Windows


LBNL supports the EWC by developming tools and documenting the benefits of efficient windows through field monitoring. Above, the cold puck test apparatus measures and monitors energy efficiency.

by Dariush Arasteh

Energy-efficient windows comprise only approximately 35 percent of the U.S. residential window market even though such products are cost-effective in approximately 80 percent or more of all applications. In order to ensure the optimum use of efficient windows in homes throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and key players in the U.S. window industry have formed the Efficient Window Collaborative (EWC) with the goal of doubling current market share of efficient windows by 2005.

The EWC, with 31 charter members from the window and glass industries, is jointly managed by the Washington D.C.-based Alliance to Save Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBNL's) Windows and Daylighting Group. The Collaborative serves as a focal point for voluntary public/private sector efforts to promote efficient products. The Alliance will lead communication and marketing activities while LBNL will lead technical support efforts. Collaborative members make a commitment to promote efficient products; specific actions include labeling a majority of their products with fair, accurate, and credible ratings, supporting the recently unveiled U.S. Department of Energy-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Windows program (see page 90 and USGlass, March 1998, The Issue at Hand), and participating in EWC-sponsored initiatives and sales staff training as appropriate.

The Energy Star designation can be used by manufacturers who have signed a memorandum of understanding with the DOE for products meeting certain energy performance criteria. Since the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights varies by climate, product recommendations are provided for the three U.S. climate zones. Energy Star labels on windows, doors and skylights should be found in stores and on products soon. For making comparisons among Energy Star products, the National Fenestration Rating Council label should be used. Communications and educational efforts directed toward window purchasers are a key component of the EWC. Given that half the residential windows market is in the retrofit sector, the EWC will reach out to home owners making decisions on window replacements and manufacturer sales staff promoting products to homeowners. Information on energy-efficient mortgages will be promoted to these groups since such programs are attractive financing packages.

Outreach activities to builders and contractors will focus on teaching these groups how to sell the energy and comfort benefits of efficient products. Training seminars aimed at reducing product failure caused by installation will be held in various regions of the country. Factsheets that define the benefits of high-performance windows and criteria for selecting the right windows for each of the three climate zones are also available from the EWC.

The EWC will work with other public and private groups aimed at promoting efficient windows, including utilities launching market transformation programs and state government voluntary programs. Partnerships with federal agencies such as the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), whose goal is to ensure that all products purchased by the federal sector are efficient, is an important first step.

Encouraging the proper use of efficient windows is often best handled on a regional scale. Two regional programs have been established on the West Coast to promote efficient products. With funding from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (utility funding), the Northwest Energy Efficient Windows Collaborative will promote the use of Energy Star Windows in Washington, Oregon and parts of Idaho and Montana. In California, funding from Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison helped establish the California Windows Initiative (CWI). CWI will be working to educate glass and window manufacturers, builder, distributors, specifiers and energy consultants about the benefits and proper use of efficient windows technologies. Where appropriate, the EWC will lend its communications and technical skills to these two regional efforts. The EWC is currently working on other regional initiatives around the country.

Our technical activities in support of the EWC include:

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Dariush Arasteh is a staff scientist for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA. He has worked on issues relating to energy efficiency in windows for the past 15 years.

For more information about the Efficient Windows Collaborative, contact Alecia Ward, EWC/Alliance to Save Energy, at 202/857-0666, or by email: ewc@ase.org, or contact Arasteh at LBNL at 510/486-6844 or by email: D_Arasteh@lbl.gov.

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Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.