WDMA Gathers in Washington to Push Agenda

March 16, 2010
Meetings & Events

Washington, D.C.—Members of the Window & Door Manufacturers made their way to the U.S. Capitol yesterday to meet their representatives in Congress as part of the organization’s first legislative conference and spring meeting held here this week. High on the WDMA agenda were the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules on lead safe work practices in remodeling, the new Home Star proposal and an effort to get window tax credits tied to the 2010 Energy Star criteria.

Initial plans for developing the next phase of Energy Star criteria for windows, doors and skylights within EPA were outlined by Douglas Anderson, who is spearheading the window, door and skylight program for the agency.

Next phase of Energy Star
The meeting also saw EPA’s Douglas Anderson lay out the agency’s plans for introducing the next phase of Energy Star criteria for windows, doors and skylights now that the program has been handed over to EPA by the Department of Energy. Elements under consideration for the next round include more stringent U-factors and solar heat gain coefficient requirements and air leakage requirements that will at least set “a base level of performance,” he reported. EPA is also considering adding some sort of life cycle analysis criteria, although, he added, research is just underway on what those might be, and “this could take a long time."

“Best in class” or “super star” labels for ultra energy efficient products is also under consideration, Anderson stated, but EPA is still looking at the concept from a global Energy Star brand perspective. It might be introduced for some product categories, and not others, but the question has to be asked first, "Does this hurt the Energy Star brand?" he explained, predicting a decision would not be made on that front until the end of this year.

EPA is also looking at skylights and tubular daylighting devices to see if the idea of daylighting can be brought into Energy Star criteria. Finally, he noted, the agency is looking at addressing installation as well, although Anderson noted that EPA is not interested in creating some sort of certification program for contractors. “We’re looking at options for what’s practical, what’s reasonable,” he stated.

As for a timeline for the new criteria, Anderson reported that EPA is in preliminary discussions with industry representatives and is “happy to talk to anyone,” but does not expect to bring out new proposals for criteria or hold official stakeholder meetings until Summer 2011. Final criteria, he stated, could be issued by the end of 2011 and the requirements could go in effect by the beginning of 2013.

Briefing Session
Prior to legislative visits, WDMA members were briefed on the organization's positions on the window tax credits under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new EPA lead rules and Home Star by Michael O’KBrien, WDMA executive vice president. The Senate has already passed a bill that would change the tax credit qualification requirements to the 2010 Energy Star criteria, he noted, and it is now in the House.

He outlined a number of WDMA’s objections to the .30/.30 criteria, including its one-size-fits-all approach to energy performance that doesn’t recognize the needs of homes in different climates. He also emphasized the importance of the change, as the same .30/.30 language appears in the draft Home Star bill now under discussion in the Senate.

WDMA supports the Home Star bill—designed to encourage energy efficient home improvements, as well as Building Star, a similar program for commercial buildings—as effective measures for job creation. In speaking with representatives, he urged members to highlight’s WDMA’s position that any Home Star bill reference Energy Star criteria for windows, doors and skylights, as well as the creation of a rebate distribution system that “works for all, including small, independent retailers and contractors.” Also critical is “the need to delay the EPA lead rules if the program is to work,” O'Brien stressed, pointing to the lack of lead-certified contractors.

Senator David Vitter  (R-La.) pointed to "bureaucratic overkill" like the new EPA lead paint rules as one of the major threats to small business coming from Washington.

The WDMA spring meeting and legislative conference was held in conjunction with the National Lumber& Building Material Dealers Association and the National Building Materials Distributors Association. The combined event also featured Senator David Vitter (R-La.) as keynote speaker.

His remarks focused on three threats to small business he currently sees in Washington. The first, he stated, is “Obamacare,” which many thought was dead, but “is now being rammed through Congress.” He wouldn’t predict whether he thought those pushing health care reform would succeed or not, but he said the added costs are likely to present a heavy burden on small business, and even encourage many to drop coverage for workers.

The second threat, Vitter stated, is “bureaucratic overkill,” a perfect example of which he said is the new EPA lead paint rule covering contractors working in pre-1978 homes. “The good news in Washington now is Home Star,” he said. “That’s wonderful that the right hand is doing that. Meanwhile, the left hand is doing something else that will completely kill that.”

The final threat highlighted by Vitter is the “Employee Free Choice” or card check bill promoted by unions. The bill, which he thinks is effectively stopped in the Senate, is particularly dangerous because it not only empowers unions by eliminating secret ballots for workers at a company to decide whether they want a union, it also mandates arbitration if negotiations between a company and its union workers fail.