From the Publisher November/December 2019July 20th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Energy Discussions: They Once Again Rise to the Forefront
by Tara Taffera
When thinking back on my coverage of the door and window industry during the past 20 years, it seems that the focus on energy efficiency is one that can be described as cyclical. And during these two decades, certain companies always have been at the forefront of the discussion, but then there have also been stages where it seemed most were looking to get in on the action, developing more environmentally friendly products—joining the club so to speak. In this way, interest would eventually ebb and flow along a curve.
In 2019 it seems we are definitely back to a rise in interest in energy efficiency as a whole. And I have to say, this isn’t surprising given the nation’s continued debate over related issues—most notably climate change. One of those conversations took place in September, amid a hearing at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy to discuss possible solutions for increasing energy efficiency in the building sector. The fenestration industry was well represented, as Congress was urged to maintain sight of affordability issues while having these high-level discussions about changes.
Among the six witnesses who testified was green builder Arn McIntyre who represented the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). McIntyre said that, due to the added costs for constructing more energy-efficient homes, affordability would be a bigger concern than ever. His suggestions include creating a program that encourages consumer-driven solutions while focusing efforts on old, rather than new homes.
“Targeting new homes would harm housing affordability and encourage people to remain in older, less energy-efficient homes. In turn, this would result in higher energy usage, higher greenhouse gas emissions and lower standards of living,” McIntyre said. “Improving the energy efficiency of the 130 million homes built before 2010 that are much less energy-efficient than today’s new homes is a much more effective approach to reduce carbon emissions and achieve energy savings.”
Others testifying agreed with efforts to retrofit older buildings. Carl Elefante, the 2018 American Institute of Architects (AIA) president, cited zero-net carbon renovations and retrofitting as one of the AIA’s four main components for reducing the impact of buildings on the environment. McIntyre insisted that mandating regulation was not an effective solution because it “is extremely difficult, costly and impractical in most if not all of the nation.”
Instead, he suggested incentivized programs to encourage the shift to “green” home building and renovation practices.
A few weeks after the hearing, Congress introduced two bipartisan pieces of legislation that seek to reinstate, strengthen and expand the energy efficiency tax credits for homeowners and new-home builders that were in place but expired in 2017. (Go to dwmmag.com for more info.)
Manufacturers keying in on efficiency, bipartisan support for legislation—things seem to really be syncing up, so far as the green movement is concerned. How are we getting in on the action? All of this is taking place at the same time that we’re publishing the eleventh edition of our Annual Green Awards. Is that a coincidence? Maybe not. Maybe, just maybe, we’re in one of those phases where we’re all thinking together. Go to page 20 to learn about the six companies we honor for making a difference in this area.
By the way, how long do you think this energy curve will continue?
Tara Taffera is the publisher of [DWM] magazine. Follow her on Twitter @TaraTaffera.
To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.