The following appeared in a recent Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) E-Update and contains updates and information regarding the developments in Congress for tax credits, the EPA lead paint ruling, Home Star, building performance issues, and more.
To view the e-letter version click here.
The Window & Door Manufacturers Association defines the standards of excellence in the residential and commercial window, door and skylight industry and advances these standards among industry members while providing resources, education and professional programs designed to advance industry businesses and provide greater value for their customers.
WDMA-Promoted Tax Credit Change Clears House
The House last Friday passed legislation that included a WDMA-promoted provision to replace the .30/.30 standard to qualify for the window, door and skylight tax credit with the 2010 ENERGY STAR® standards. The legislation was adopted as part of the tax extenders bill, which passed by a vote of 215 to 204, and must now go back to the Senate for final approval after the Memorial Day recess (see below for more details on the overall bill). WDMA thanks Rep.John Yarmuth (D-KY) for his leadership on this important issue and support as the tax extenders legislation was revised by the House. The new criteria, once the extenders act is signed into law, would apply to purchases for the remainder of 2010, although there would be a three-month phase in where both products would qualify. The change sets an important precedent should the 25c tax credits be extended beyond the end of the year, and would also be reflected in pending HomeStar legislation, where the qualifying language for windows references the 25c criteria.
Tax Extenders Bill Passes House; More Changes Expected
The entire tax extenders bill, formally known as the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act" (H.R. 4213), was substantially trimmed down several times in an effort to appease Blue Dog Democrats who objected to the large amount of non-offset spending. It was pared down to a mere $110 billion package after an extension of COBRA subsidies and Medicaid assistance to states were removed. In addition to the window/door/skylight tax credit change outlined above, the legislation also included a one-year extension of the research and development tax credit and the new energy efficient home tax credit. Those credits had expired at the end of 2009. Senate Democrats are likely to seek more changes when they again take up the bill following the recess.
Home Star Reintroduced in Senate
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced revised Home Star legislation last week in the Senate (S. 3434), with fifteen cosponsors including Republicans Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Scott Brown (R-MA). The bill adopts some of the changes made in the House, including accelerated rebate reimbursement. It also creates a new tax credit for performance-based energy efficiency improvements, adding a Section 25E to the Internal Revenue Code that allows homeowners to deduct up to 50% of the cost or $8000 for a "qualified" whole home energy retrofit conducted by a BPI-accredited contractor.
The revised bill includes WDMA-sought changes to allow rebates for ENERGY STAR® qualified doors and skylights. Should the window tax credit change to ENERGY STAR standards, then that will also be the standard for window rebates under Home Star. The bill also adds storm windows that are installed on at least 5 single-glazed windows in a home eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and window films applied to at least eight exterior windows, doors or skylights or 75% of the glass square footage in a home, with film that has a SHGG of .40 or less, visible light-to-solar heat gain ratio of at least 1.1 and is certified to reduce the U-factor of the NFRC dual pane reference window by .05 or greater.
Because of the tax provisions, the bill is still referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It remains unclear how quickly the Senate will take up the legislation, nor has funding for the program been identified as of yet. The House version passed without any funding.
Building Star Legislation Introduced in the House
Last week a commercial and multi-family version of Home Star, called "Building Star," was introduced in the House by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), with seven Democratic cosponsors: Reps. Melissa Bean (D-IL), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY). The "Building Star Energy Efficiency Act" (H.R. 5476) provides financial incentives to owners of commercial and multi-family buildings who undertake certain energy efficiency retrofits. Unfortunately, the legislation requires that contractors performing work under Building Star be paid in accordance with Davis-Bacon prevailing wages. Prevailing wage requirements have been an impediment to the Department of Energy weatherization program that was included as part of last year's stimulus legislation. As with Home Star, Building Star proponents are seeking $6 billion in funding. Companion legislation had previously been introduced in the Senate (S.3079), but has not yet been considered by the Senate Energy Committee.
Senate Votes on EPA Lead Rule Amendment
Last week, as part of consideration of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, the Senate approved an amendment (60-37 vote) by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that would prevent EPA funding for the imposition of fines and liability under the EPA Lead Rule. As you know, WDMA has been pursuing a variety of avenues to minimize the mpact of the rule on the industry. Sen. Collins specifically noted WDMA's efforts on the floor of the Senate--one of only a few groups along with NFIB, NAHB and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association. However, during the course of consideration to make the amendment germane (relevant to the bill at hand in order to take a vote on) to the bill on the Senate floor, the amendment was modified so that it only barred funding from this particular supplemental appropriations bill, which did not contain EPA funding, therefore making the vote largely symbolic. Despite the symbolic vote, 60 Senators voting for this amendment will provide NLBMDA and other organizations momentum in modifying the rule.
Please click here to view the vote on the Collins amendment.
Supply Star Act Aims to Increase Energy Efficiencies in Supply Chains
Four senators introduced a bill last week designed to increase energy efficiencies in supply chains. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Scott Brown (R-M.A.), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) worked together on the Supply Star Act of 2010, which will primarily affect small and medium-sized businesses. The Supply Star Act of 2010 would establish a Supply Star Program within the Department of Energy that builds on the Energy Star Program, as well as existing best practices in industry and the U.S. and international research communities to give companies access to the resources and information they need to successfully drive supply chain efficiency improvements.
The Supply Star Program aims to provide companies with financing, technical support, training, and sector-wide networks to help significantly improve their supply chain efficiency. The program would also provide public recognition to those businesses that achieve the highest supply chain efficiency standards, rewarding them with a marketing tool that will help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
High-Performance Building Week: Celebrate June 13-19, 2010
The High-Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC) has designated June 13-19 as High-Performance Building Week. The week is an opportunity to highlight the importance of high-performance buildings to federal, state, and local policymakers and the general public. Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Russ Carnahan (D-MO), who serve as co-chairs of the High-Performance Building Caucus, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives supporting the goals and ideals of the week. Additional activities in Washington, DC include site visits to laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Congressional Briefings, and a reception honoring advancements toward widespread achievement of high-performance buildings. Please click here [PDF] for more information.