Dynamic Glass Tax Code Incentives, Inflation Concerns Covered at FGIA Fall Conference

The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) Hybrid Fall Conference’s regulatory and legislative report dove into inflation concerns, tax code incentives embedded in the Inflation Reduction Act, FGIA public comments, along with additional topics concerning the U.S. fenestration and glazing industry.

The report, presented by FGIA U.S. technical operations director Kathy Krafka Harkema, opened with a look at the increase in inflation in the U.S. over the past 12 months. According to data provided by Krafka Harkema, the energy index is up 28%, gasoline is up 26.5%, fuel oil is up 68%, natural gas is up 33% and rent is up 6.7%. Krafka Harkema says that “more economic pain, lower employment and additional layups are to be expected” as the Federal Reserve increases rates to slow down inflation.

The Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by 0.75 percentage points in September, making it the third hike after increases in June and July. This is the fifth interest rate hike this year. The current annual inflation rate is about 8.3%.

Buy Clean Actions

Not all news is bad though. The U.S. recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The $739 billion bill includes tax credits and consumer rebates for American businesses and households, among other incentives.

For the glazing industry, the bill established provisions for the use of American-made equipment for clean energy production, which includes solar panels. The bill also provides bonus tax credits for businesses that pay union prevailing wages and use registered union apprenticeship programs.

Krafka Harkema also touched upon the Dynamic Glazing Act, which offers a 30% energy tax credit amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for electrochromic glass. There are also tax credits for solar panels to be made in the U.S. and for ENERGY STAR Most Efficient skylights, says Krafka Harkema.

Additionally, Krafka Harkema says that the U.S. federal government implemented the Federal Buy Clean Initiative to promote low-carbon construction materials and union jobs. The Federal Buy Clean Initiative is a part of President Biden’s economic plan, which includes the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act, to usher in a manufacturing boom in America.

Along with the initiative, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the federal government will prioritize the purchase of key low-carbon construction materials, covering 98% of materials purchased. This includes steel, concrete, asphalt and flat glass that have lower levels of emissions.

New Forecast Tools

There are also new electronic tools that can help forecast demands. These include Greet, a whole building life-cycle analysis electronic module, and LIGHTEnUP, a tool that forecasts the manufacturing sector and product life-cycle energy consumption implications of manufactured products across the U.S.

U.S. Rail Strike

Companies still need to keep an eye out on the U.S. rail strike, which was averted on Sept. 15, 2022, when a proposed agreement was reached, Krafka Harkema says. That’s because the contracts are still subject to union ratification. According to recent reports, workers remain unhappy with working conditions. Handfuls of workers recently rallied outside of railyards across the country organized by a newly formed workers group separate from the 12 unions that negotiated the deals with the major U.S. freight railroads, reports the Associated Press.

“It remains to be seen whether those concessions are enough to get workers to vote for these deals,” says the Associated Press. “A branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union rejected a deal last week that didn’t include those extra days off, so they are back at the table now working on a new pact.”

Krafka Harkema adds that if railroad worker wages increase, expect shipping costs to rise, which will be yet another hurdle for the fenestration and glazing industry.

FGIA News

The FGIA filed public comments on Aug. 10, 2022, on the final ENERGY STAR draft. According to Krafka Harkema, the public comments include:

  • Pushing the launch of ENERGY STAR Version 7.0 to the start of 2024, not mid-year.
  • Proactively communicating that ENERGY STAR is a voluntary “above code” program that is not intended to be adopted into energy codes.
  • Requiring North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) certification for windows, sliding doors and skylights for greater product quality assurance and safety in ENERGY STAR Version 7.0.

Furthermore, the FGIA asks for North Central Zone U-Factor changes to 0.26 to better align with the least stringent Northern Zone U-factor to eliminate disconnect. The FGIA also wants to move IECC Climate Zone 5 into the North-Central Zone for a more realistic alignment in climate conditions.

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