Energy & Environment September 2021

New Building Codes Could Save Energy and Reduce Climate Impact, Says DOE

New energy building code proposals from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would save American homes and businesses $138 billion in the next 30 years in energy costs.

Information released recently from the DOE claims its proposals would save an equivalent of $162 annually per residential home while reducing the American building sector’s impact on climate change.

“More efficient building codes are key ways to eliminate wasted energy, lower Americans’ energy bills, and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in the announcement. “These efforts to help states and localities adopt new, more efficient codes – along with President Biden’s plans to produce, preserve, and retrofit millions of homes—will provide Americans safer, healthier, and more comfortable places to live, work, and play.”

According to a DOE analysis, the new building codes would provide an energy savings of 4.7% for commercial and 9.4% for residential compared to a previous model energy code. The new codes would also collectively avoid 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, equal to the annual emissions of almost 200 million cars.

“My point of view is the industry [fenestration] needs help to move forward in achieving what I would call more efficient windows,” says David Cooper, president of Fenestration Consulting Services Inc., meaning windows with improved thermal performance.

“There’s a steady march in the building codes to improve the thermal performance in fenestration,” Cooper says.

According to Cooper, states are behind in adopting legislation that supports the latest International Building Code requirements. The Department of Energy setting up an office to help drive faster adoption of the codes “is well worthwhile” for the industry.

The challenge for manufacturers, according to Cooper, has been creating products that meet different requirements from state to state.

The DOE’s new building code requirements “will help to foster adoption of the codes with better performance” of windows in commercial buildings, as well as unify building codes across the nation, Cooper says. “In the commercial world, the codes are different.” He says that meeting the new building codes for commercial buildings may require different solutions than for residential buildings. But the building codes may also make the job of specifying products simpler for the fabricator.

“I believe that there are a lot of window manufacturers due to limits in their scale that don’t have the resources they need to make decisions in regard to thermal performance,” Cooper says, adding that top manufacturers are well-staffed to understand and engage in conversation about thermal performance, and the new building codes will create equity between all manufacturers to improve thermal performance.

In the U.S., according to the DOE, heating, cooling and lighting 129 million homes and commercial buildings costs $400 billion a year, which creates 35% of the nation’s carbon emissions, 40% of its energy use and 75% of its electricity. But 30% of that energy is wasted by buildings, officials say.

With new codes comes additional support from the DOE for state and local governments to increase technical support, the DOE proposal states. This includes updating the new building codes, providing workforce education and training for industry workers, and emerging opportunities for more codes that further save energy, reduce pollution and use technologies such as electric vehicle charging. New building codes also portend job creation and economic benefits as the DOE works with states and localities to advance energy code policies, according to the DOE.

Cooper says that updating the codes across the nation for commercial buildings “will only serve to reduce the waste of energy and make the specification of the fenestration product simpler.”

Asahi India Glass Ltd. and Vishakha Group to Construct Solar Glass Plant in India

Asahi India Glass Ltd. (AIS) and Vishakha group have announced a new partnership into solar glass. Under the agreement, the companies will build what they say will be India’s largest greenfield solar glass plant at Mundra, Gujarat. It will have a phase-1 glass manufacturing capacity of up to 3 gigawatts of the installable capacity of solar power plants.

The plant is expected to be commissioned within 18-24 months. AIS will have a minority stake in the solar glass business.

Vishakha Group is a manufacturer of flexible polymer packaging and has manufacturing facilities for other key components in the entire solar panel value, according to a press release.

As part of its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, India has now embarked on a target of generating 450 GW of renewable energy by year 2030. This has led to a surge in demand for solar power in India, resulting in demand for solar power equipment, panels and solar glass, according to the release.

“Although a different market segment, solar glass is still an adjacent business to the existing businesses of AIS,” says Sanjay Labroo, managing director and CEO of AIS. “We are delighted to partner with Vishakha group in their vision of creating the entire ecosystem and value chain for indigenizing solar energy … in India.”

“The joint venture into solar glass manufacturing will support the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of the Government of India, contribute in achieving energy independence and lead to massive job creation in the Gujarat region,” adds Jigish Doshi, chairman of the Vishakha Group. “We  are delighted to partner with AIS in this new journey. We plan to compliment the technical expertise and experience of AIS with synergies from our other businesses in the entire solar value chain.”

Guardian Glass Announces UL Product Lens Certification

Guardian Glass announced it has received UL Product Lens Certification, covering three global product categories: uncoated float glass, sputter (vacuum) coated float glass (including commercial SunGuard and residential ClimaGuard products) and UltraMirror products.

“The Guardian Africa, Middle East and India teams had previously collaborated with UL to achieve Product Lens Certification for glass products manufactured in those regions,” says Coleen Dykstra, global product stewardship manager. “Utilizing our market-based management framework, a global team was able to leverage that work along with the cradle-to-cradle certifications achieved by the European region to substantiate the expansion of those certifications to create the UL Product Lens reports covering
these three global product categories.”

The addition of the Product Lens Certifications to the global portfolio of sustainability tools including product-specific Environmental Product Declarations and the company’s Sustainability Calculator promotes Guardian’s commitment to sustainable and green construction, according to a press release.

Briefly

AkzoNobel has announced carbon reduction targets for its full value chain. According to a press release, the company has aligned its own sustainability ambitions with the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global warming and ensure that global temperature rise does not exceed 34.7 F above pre-industrial levels.

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