Administration Launches Building Performance Standards Coalition

The Biden Administration’s new Building Performance Standards Coalition wants four million buildings and two million homes retrofitted for energy performance. The partnership includes 33 state and local governments striving to deliver cleaner, healthier and more affordable buildings.

John McClatchey, vice president of sales and marketing for Southern Aluminum Finishings (SAF) in Atlanta, sees the initiative with the city as a positive move for the glass and glazing industry.

McClatchey said that the impact of climate change on the industry was a topic that came up in his company’s corporate strategic planning about five months ago. Climate will eventually change how buildings are built.

“We need to stand ready to pivot to whatever direction that will be with glass and glazing and aluminum,” he says.

According to the initiative, nearly 20% of the nation’s building footprint falls within the coalition’s jurisdictions. The partnership looks to facilitate “new commitments to design and implement building performance standards at the state and local level, create good-paying, union jobs, lower energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution and cut emissions from the building sector.”

McClatchey says the initiative is a step in the direction of the industry’s continuous progress.

“For the longest time, natural light was so important to bring into a building… But the first big glass buildings put up weren’t very energy efficient. And so they’ve been working towards making the glass and the systems more energy-efficient,” he says. “Then the pandemic comes along, and it turns out you need more ventilation. And so [it’s shown that] we need bigger, open spaces and operable windows. That’s just sort of how it’s evolved so far.”

Paul Bush, Vitro’s vice president of technical services and government affairs, says his company supports the coalition. “We absolutely support any effort to upgrade the energy efficiency of existing buildings, including the Building Performance Standards Coalition and the communities that have signed on to participate,” Bush says. “Vitro has many high-performance energy-efficient glass, coated glass, highly insulating and renewable energy products to help retrofit buildings. Our VacuMax vacuum insulating glass unit with a thickness as thin as 8.3 mm and R14 performance is a fantastic product for significantly upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings with monolithic glazing.”

Bush says the coalition could positively impact the ongoing battle against a changing climate, and finding ways for the built environment to be more sustainable.

“Communities that have a building performance plan to upgrade their buildings, can improve energy efficiency, improve occupant comfort, have a positive impact on climate change and will create a lot of local economic opportunities in the process. The coalition is expanding rapidly and we are proud to support the effort,” he says.

Kathy Harkema, U.S. technical operations director for the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA), also views the initiative as a positive move for the industry.

“Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings across the U.S. is something FGIA members and the new National Building Performance Standards Coalition have in common,” she says.

“As part of FGIA’s codes and regulatory advocacy leadership, we look forward to continuing to engage in conversations with stakeholders like the BPS coalition on how today’s energy-efficient fenestration and glazing solutions can enhance the energy performance of America’s commercial buildings and housing. By encouraging the transformation of existing buildings into affordable housing options, the coalition will help serve a critical need in many communities across the country. Plus, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the coalition’s work is designed to help America and many of its cities meet their net-zero energy goals,” Harkema says.

Helen Sanders, general manager at Technoform, says that building performance standards have been growing in the U.S. for years and have found a place in cities and states that have wanted to drive climate change action. These have been independent actions without federal support, until now, she says.

“What is new now, is that the Building Performance Standards Coalition (BPS) represents the full force of the federal government being provided to cities and states to help them enact BPS policies and programs with an emphasis on addressing emissions in a manner that also supports social equity. Federal agencies including the Department of Energy are providing technical support and funding programs for the initiative, including retrofitting of existing buildings,” Sanders explains.

She expects an acceleration of BPS being implemented across the U.S., now seeing support from the federal government.

“For the glazing industry, this will likely encourage more envelope retrofits – replacing old fenestration with higher performance fenestration – once the low-hanging fruits of lighting and HVAC system upgrades have been completed. It will also encourage design teams of new construction to focus on ensuring long-term energy performance – less value engineering, increasing commissioning and on-site quality assurance to ensure quality construction, a focus on durability, service life and maintainability in product selection, and the impact of occupant behavior.”

For a list of coation members, click here.