DOE Offers Update on Changes to Energy Star

Katy Devlin
November 1, 2007
Codes & Standards

Tempe, Ariz.—The Department of Energy is on track to put revised Energy Star criteria for windows into effect by early 2009, according to Richard Karney, DOE Energy Star program manager, who spoke at the National Fenestration Rating Council fall meeting here in November.

Karney said the DOE is working with manufacturers to learn what products are available in the marketplace and what products are in development. Analysis of the findings should be published by the end of January and distributed to stakeholders. A stakeholders meeting is planned for March.

January 1, 2009 is the earliest effective date for the new criteria. “We’re trying to stick to that date as best we can. But, we will not keep it if it means sacrificing better criteria,” Karney said.

The DOE also plans to issue even tougher criteria for Energy Star windows in 2012 and again in 2015, he noted. “We’re looking to establish much more aggressive criteria in 2012 using technology that’s out there or technology that’s coming down the pipeline. … We’re studying targets for 2015 that will be extremely aggressive—extremely high tech products, perhaps using technology that may not exist now,” Karney said. “Products like highly super insulating units, or windows with dynamic glazing.

“We’re setting numbers now to give industry time to prepare to meet aggressive targets,” he explained.
The Energy Star climate zone maps are also set to change, Karney said. The maps will more closely match up with IECC climate zones, but will be more simplified. “The proposed climate zone maps will have 5 zones compared to IECC’s 8,” he said.

The Canadian Energy Star program is looking to toughen its window ratings as well, said Steve Hopwood, program officer for standards and labeling, housing and equipment for the Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa. Hopwood also spoke during the NFRC meeting.

“The U.S. DOE is looking to make their program more stringent, and we’d like to match what’s happening in the U.S.,” Hopwood said. Changes to the Canadian program could also occur as early as 2009.

In other news, NFRC has started the process to potentially develop ratings for three new sets of fenestration products—dynamic attachments and exterior and interior window coverings. NFRC’s board of directors approved the establishment of a new attachment subcommittee and several task groups to explore the technical aspects of developing rating methods for these types of products.

“We received numerous requests for new product ratings at our summer meeting in Denver, and the board evaluated them to ensure they fell within the mission and scope of NFRC,” said Jim Benney, NFRC executive director. “We hope to add these new products into NFRC’s rating and certification program and will closely monitor the progress of the task groups.”

The Tempe meeting also featured more discussion about the component modeling approach under development for commercial fenestration products. Marcia Falke, NFRC board chair and president of Keystone Certifications Inc. acknowledged industry calls for a simplified CMA program during her opening session report. However, she added, NFRC needs to ensure the program has sufficient independent verification first.

Falke discussed a recent board decision to rule against a proposal that would have allowed random auditing of product ratings developed by an approved calculation entity or ACE instead of 100 percent review by an inspection agency. “We want something that is easy and user friendly...but we cannot sacrifice independence and integrity,” Falke said. “We don’t have enough information to determine whether random sampling offers enough of a safeguard.”

The board could reconsider its decision in the future, once a scaled program can be proven successful. “We like the idea of random sampling, but to allow it right now is just too big of a leap,” Falke said. “We need to kick the tires for a little while longer before we make another decision.”