Destiny USA, the $2.2 billion shopping and entertainment project proposed for construction in Syracuse, NY, provides a clear example of the kinds of problems that arise when local, state, and national politics run into a local economy struggling for revitalization. Throw in a dose of cutting-edge, environmentally friendly design for a project slated to be built atop ground once used for storage of oil and gasoline products, and adjacent to one of the country’s most polluted lakefronts, and you have a drama fit for Broadway. This play – likely to enjoy a long run – also serves to highlight some of the key issues facing the commercial window industry in coming years.
The project is at a standstill due to the New York State legislature’s failure to complete legislation containing important tax incentives that would provide $52 million in annual tax benefits under New York’s “Empire Zone” program. Until that issue is revisited, Destiny USA and a slate of related projects to develop the nearby lakefront harbor area in Syracuse have an uncertain destiny.
Another political football that may affect the Destiny USA project is the Federal energy bill – passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but stopped dead in its tracks by a Democrat-led Senate. The energy bill contains important provisions that would provide “green bond” monies to support the project. Destiny USA will include renewable energy sources and many other environmentally conscious features such as glazing systems designed to provide solar heat gain to maintain comfort levels throughout the cold upstate New York winters.
If resurrected during the current Senate term, the bill would include deduction incentives for building owners who construct energy-efficient buildings, utilizing renewable energy technology including solar and geothermal sources. The specific certification requirements of the bill are still to be determined, but the overall dollar benefit to commercial building owners could be in the billions of dollars.
While the window industry expects that passive solar features will continue to change the way windows and glazing systems are utilized in the next generation of commercial development, the boost that green building incentives from state and federal agencies can provide may help speed up the construction economy. With these types of incentives, projects like Destiny USA will be more likely to make it from the drawing board to reality and achieve their destiny.
Even as state and local jurisdictions adopt the 2000 and 2003 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the International Code Council (ICC) is at work on the next release of its family of codes – the 2004 supplement edition.
Some of the key provisions – approved by code development committees at public hearings held last fall and awaiting final action hearings this May – include:
Updated reference in the IBC to a new version of glass-strength standards providing more accurate data for laminated glass – used to help windows and skylights meet new impact requirements for coastal areas.
A comprehensive energy proposal submitted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE proposal will provide a simpler method of using prescriptive tables to meet the IECC – making compliance and enforcement easier.
Michael Fischer is based in Chittenango, NY, and serves as the director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturing Association (www.wdma.com), Des Plaines, IL.