When Congress expanded a tax break cap to $1,500 to encourage homeowners to make energy-efficiency improvements, it also raised the eligibility requirements for product to qualify, which a group of window makers said shuts out the U.S. market, reports The Hill. AGC Flat Glass North America said the new standard forced it to close a facility in Michigan.
As a result, a group of window makers, along with business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Manufacturers, has lobbied to change the standard to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star measurement to rate windows and skylights, reports The Hill.
Although their efforts resulted in the Senate passing a tax extenders bill that included the change, environmental groups including Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, and the National Wildlife Federation, along with Anderson Windows, are lobbying against the change, stating that Energy Star is a weaker efficiency standard and leads to less energy savings.
The tougher standard in the stimulus bill, called the “30/30” requirement, states that windows and doors must meet a U factor of 0.3 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.3 to be eligible for a rebate.
According to the NRDC, 61 percent of window models would meet Energy Star standards in the South, 57 percent in the South-Central zone, 48 percent in the North-Central zone and 33 percent in the North.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star homes saved $250 million in utility bills in 2008, saving over 1.5 billion kWh of electricity and 155 million therms of natural gas while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to nearly 350,000 cars annually.
In March, the Senate introduced a bill that would establish a Building Star program to provide incentives to commercial buildings related to their energy efficiency.