NWDA Wants to Expand Lobbying Efforts

July 23, 2008
Meetings & Events
Vernon, NJ—Facing more stringent requirements in Energy Star criteria—and frustrated with the limited tax incentives offered to people replacing windows—members of the Northeast Window & Door Association have been talking about the need for the industry to start lobbying more in Washington. At its summer meeting, the group heard from two representatives of the National Association of Manufacturers, who noted that with elections coming up, it is an excellent time to get involved.

Pointing to the strength of the industry back in the 1970s, when tax incentives promoted a variety of energy efficient home upgrades, BFRich’s George Simmons urged owners and presidents of NWDA member companies to get more involved in the organization and support efforts to get its voice heard in Washington.

“Get smart,” said NAM’s Dave Asselin. “Get to know your legislators. Get to know your member of Congress. Invite them to your plant. Let them see what you do. Let them know how many employees work in your facility.” With everyone in the House up for re-election now, added NAM’s Tara Smith, representatives and their opponents are looking for events and places to get coverage. They may be more receptive to this type of invitation now.

Tara Smith and David Asselin of the National Association Manufacturers urged attendees to invite their legislators and members of Congress to their plants.

If they do come, Asselin continued, “Don’t be afraid to let them know your concerns. If an Energy Star tax credit is important, let them know that.”

The two also offered advice for NWDA in general about how it could get more involved in Washington, suggesting there are an array of firms and individuals that the organization could contract with to monitor legislative and regulatory activity and represent NWDA’s interests.

Jim Benney, executive director of the National Fenestration Rating Council, was also on the agenda, offering attendees an update on recent activity related to Energy Star, as well as incoming requirements within the NFRC rating program for IG certification. One of the primary reasons Energy Star is moving to become more stringent, he noted, is that building and energy codes in various states have become more stringent. The Energy Star label is designed to represent the top tier of products, as far as energy efficiency is concerned, but in some states, the current Energy Star minimums are less stringent than code.

Jim Benney reviewed current plans for new IG certification requirements within NFRC’s program.

Because codes are becoming so much more stringent, Benney indicated it would be tough for the industry to convince the Department of Energy to not make Energy Star criteria more stringent. He suggested, however, that there may be an opportunity for the industry to push for incentives or programs in the remodeling and replacement market. There are 60 million homes in America that still have single-glazing, he stated. As America looks to increase overall energy savings, there is a real opportunity there.
Still in draft mode, the requirement for certification of IG in order for windows, doors or skylights to carry the NFRC label is an idea that has been “stirring around” for the past year and a half, Benney noted. It is something that has been pushed by the Department of Energy, which sits on NFRC’s board, for the Energy Star program, he added. The primary reason people are promoting IG certification is that NFRC has not been successful in developing some sort of “long-term durability” rating method for products, but there is significant evidence that IG units that are built, tested and certified to certain standards offer good long-term performance.

NFRC is not creating a new IG certification program, but plans to allow manufacturers seeking NFRC certification to use one of the existing IG programs available, Benney reported. One requirement that NFRC plans to add, however, concerns gas-filled units. It plans to mandate a minimum initial fill rate of 90 percent, and require units to still have 80 percent fill rate after they have completed life-cycle testing procedures.

Once IG certification is officially passed by NFRC, Benney concluded, it will be two years before the requirements are enforced.

NWDA also heard an industry update from Michael Collins of Jordan Knaupf & Co., a Chicago-based firm. The current market picture is not very bright, he stated, but the long-term outlook—both for new housing and remodeling—remains fairly bright. Investors also remain very interested in the window and door industry, he added, because unlike other industries, they continue to see window and door manufacturers as more insulated from overseas competition. JGS