AAMA Plans to Oppose Tax Credit Requirements

March 3, 2009

The new stimulus package was a huge topic of discussion at the American Architectural Manufacturers Association conference that concluded last week, officials report. The San Diego meeting saw the organization begin outlining plans to get Energy Star values reinstated and the .30 U-value/.30 SHGC requirements overturned.

Throughout the meeting, members discussed the options available to AAMA and the industry. The general consensus is to promote Energy Star criteria over the "arbitrary values" currently within the legislation that do not take into account climatic differences by regions of the country.

“Along with our members, we are asking the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to reconsider these values, in light of their conflict with the proposed Energy Star U-factors and SHGC values and their application to appropriate regions in the United States,” states Rich Walker, AAMA CEO.

In reviewing developments related to the new tax credit requirements, Walker reports that to date, no justification has been provided for the change to the across-the-board .30/.30 requirements. Based on feedback AAMA has received from Department of Energy staff, which manages the Energy Star program for windows, doors and skylights, the change surprised them.

The one-size-fits-all approach conflicts with much of the work that DOE has done in developing the Energy Star program for windows, he continues. "Different climates require different performance parameters to be considered energy efficient. Windows, doors and skylights intended for installation in a cooling-dominated climate are not as effective and in some cases can use more energy in a heating-dominated climate. Fenestration products are sensitive to both the transmission of hot and cool air and the absorption and reflection of sunlight energy. They are nothing like other Energy Star products, such as hot water heaters, that perform the same, regardless of climate."

Prior to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Walker states, "Energy Star ratings served as the basis for tax credit qualification. The DOE process for establishing Energy Star values has been open and interactive and strives to involve all stakeholders. The DOE process is also built upon extensive trend and opportunity analyses, which provide both scientific and market justifications for proposed changes in product qualification values. AAMA will continue to work together with DOE to exchange information and establish reaching realistic energy efficiency targets, as opposed to imposing arbitrary values inappropriate for different regions of the country. We have not mentioned the devastating impact on the already depressed building products industry–more layoffs, more plant closings and more bankruptcies. The industry says bring back Energy Star." 

AAMA does not know if the new tax credit requirements will impact DOE plans to revise Energy Star criteria for windows, doors and skylights, which are scheduled to be released soon. "We hope not," Walker says, especially given how the industry was united in its response to the most recent proposed Energy Star fenestration requirements.

"Our member manufacturers have invested a great deal of resources in educating consumers, building officials and home builders on the thermal performance attributes and meaning of the ratings," he adds. "Therefore, it is our hope that these requirements will still be relevant as thousands of member products display Energy Star labels." 

Read AAMA's official press release on its efforts to urge Congress to refine energy efficiency standards set for the tax credit provisions.