FGIA Conference Offers Legislative and Regulatory Updates

The second day of the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance’s (FGIA) 2020 Virtual Fall Conference included an update on U.S. and Canada legislation and regulations that have an impact on the glass industry. FGIA U.S. codes and regulatory affairs manager Kathy Krafka Harkema and FGIA glass products and Canadian industry affairs director Margaret Webb presented the “U.S. and Canadian Legislative and Regulatory Report.”

Krafka Harkema then gave an overview of how COVID-19 has impacted states’ revenues. She said that there’s projected to be a $169-$253 billion shortfall in general fund receipts for the combined fiscal year ending in 2020 and 2021. The highest risk states include Colorado, Florida, California, Oklahoma and Michigan based on five different risk assessment factors.

Krafka Harkema also explained the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office sought input on planned technical objectives, targets, tools, overall research, developments and estimates of their program impacts in addition to asking where research goals for building windows and window technologies could be refined. FGIA submitted public comments.

She also pointed out that the DOE is offering up to $80 million in grant dollars to enhance electric grids and increase the flexibility of energy across U.S. buildings. This is in an effort to make the U.S. energy independent. The money could be used for new building designs, products and retrofits that help buildings achieve these goals. The application deadline is November 5, 2020.

The National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) final rule by the Council of Environmental Quality went into effect on September 14, 2020. It was the first update in 40-plus years. The new NEPA update involves cuts to the time it takes to produce environmental impact statements (EISs). The new rule limits EISs to within two years and 150 pages compared to the previous mean of 4.5 years. Twenty-five percent of EISs took six-plus years to complete in the past. This update is expected to produce annualized savings of $83 million.

Krafka Harkema told attendees that year, an executive order “required federal agencies to tell the public how they do business and to create an online portal so the public could see the guidance documents they use.” She explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been “a posterchild for reform” in this effort.

During the process, the EPA began tracking how long it takes to process permits, which hadn’t been tracked in the organization’s 50-year history, according to Krafka Harkema. She said the EPA wants to process and decide permits in two years or less. Currently they are processing permits in around six months.

“They’re streamlining grant applications and partnering with states to reduce backlog and take waste out of the process,” she said.

Another update Krafka Harkema wanted attendees to be aware of is that California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that bans the sale of gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2025 in an effort to boost electric vehicle sales and cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 35%. The ban will apply to heavy-duty, long-haul trucks in 2045.

Also in California, the California Consumer Privacy Rights Act (Proposition 24) will be on the state’s ballot on November 3, 2020. It will expand on the California Consumer Privacy Act by giving consumers more rights and limiting businesses’ use of personal data. It would also triple penalties for violations involving consumers under the age of 16. Krafka Harkema explained that this will cost Californians at least $10 million more annual to administer and enforce.

Webb informed members that the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is continuing with its market transformation effort for 2030. A Market Transformation Roadmap Advisory Council is being set up and Webb will join the expert teams in this effort.

She explained that one of NRCan’s Market Transformation Program goals is to move all fenestration to a U-factor of 0.82 W/m2K (0.14 BTU/hr*ft2) or lower by 2030 through the continued use of the Canadian Energy Star program, identifying barriers to achieve these goals and possibly a national regulation of fenestration products, though Webb says the latter is not likely.

The FGIA 2020 Fall Virtual Conference ends today. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more conference coverage.

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