Is ENERGY STAR Transparent Enough?

Jan. 22, 2014
Senators raise concerns on standards development.

Citing concerns from stakeholders, eight members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources called on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to make ENERGY STAR’s development process for specifications publicly available.

“Our specific concerns center on whether the EPA is implementing the ENERGY STAR program in a transparent manner and is adequately collaborating with its stakeholders,” the senators wrote in a Nov. 26 letter to McCarthy. “Many stakeholders continue to complain that they feel their input is ignored and the agency fails to adequately explain how standards are developed and program decisions are made.”

The committee raised similar concerns with the EPA two years ago, but the most recent complaints were made after the agency issued a new set of performance standards for windows, doors, and skylights that will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. Among the changes:

  • The U-factor maximum for windows in the North-Central Zone will be changed to 0.30.
  • The U-factor maximum for skylights in the Northern and North-Central zones will be changed to 0.48, allowing more products to qualify.
  • Air leakage labeling requirements now include several existing certification labels instead of mandating the inclusion of an air leakage value.

Stakeholders in the North and South-Central zones in particular complain that “their input was set aside with little or no explanation, and that the reasoning behind the agency’s decision has not been made available to them,” the letter notes.

No formal rulemaking process is required for ENERGY STAR, but major decisions should be “supported by a publicly available record,” the lawmakers say.

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