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Green Building News

Developing Ratings For Window Shades

A manufacturers’ trade association and the U.S. Department of Energy will share costs to develop ratings for window attachments

Window attachments can save energy, but unlike appliances and windows, they aren't systematically evaluated and rated. That will change, the government has announced.
Image Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

When you buy a new window for your house, an attached label from the National Fenestration Rating Council tells you how much solar gain the window lets in, and how efficiently the window insulates against heat and cold. Similarly, Energy Star labels on appliances estimate how much money you’ll spend each year to operate them so you can compare one appliance to another.

Consumers would get the same kind of benefit from a new program announced this month by the U.S. Department of Energy for window attachments — the shades, awnings, and other devices installed over a window to block sunlight.

DOE is joining the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) to develop a “comprehensive energy ratings and certification program” over the next four years that will result in new product labels for consumers.

The Attachments Energy Ratings Council will develop standards for both residential and commercial products.

Citing a government analysis, WCMA said that window attachments have the potential to save 800 trillion BTU of energy by 2030. “Despite this substantial opportunity, there are currently no performance rating mechanisms for assessing the energy performance of fenestration attachments, which means the available energy savings are not being fully realized because consumers are unable to identify the fenestration attachment products that have the potential to save energy,” the association said.

Program development complete by 2018

The government said it would kick in $1.6 million to aid the effort, and that energy performance-based rating, certification, and labeling standards would be developed in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, public interest groups, utilities, and the DOE.

Although the program was just announced, the project actually launched last October and is due for completion on September 30, 2018.

Among technical goals listed by the WCMA were characterizing key material properties, such as transmittance, reflectance and emissivity, and simulating project performance.

Manufacturers, public interest groups, non-profits, test laboratories, and experienced energy raters all were invited to become AERC members. There’s a nomination form posted at the WCMA website.

If you decide to attend the group’s meetings, just remember to say “fenestration attachment product,” not “awning.”

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