Energy Star Could Survive, But With a Lot Less Money

July 19th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee announced its spending bill for 2018. It keeps Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that certifies energy efficient products including window film, but drastically reduces its funding, according to a report on the committee’s proposal that was released on Monday.

The 2018 spending bill would fund Energy Star at $31 million. That’s 53 percent less than 2017’s funding level of $66 million.

“The committee continues to support the Energy Star program and does not terminate the program as proposed,” the House Appropriations Committee writes in its report. “However, program adjustments or reforms may be warranted.”

The committee says Energy Star should review a 2009 agreement between the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) that reallocated roles and responsibilities between the two entities. Both have managed different aspects of the program since 1996.

Additionally, the committee says the third-party certification requirements that Energy Star began in 2011 have shifted many product reviews to outside vendors, such as the certification work that the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) performs for Energy Star’s windows, doors and skylights program, which houses window film products. Energy Star’s budget is being slashed because “historical funding levels exceed the needs for internal product reviews,” the committee writes in its report.

In March, the administration’s budget proposal called for Energy Star to be defunded and its functions possibly transferred to a non-governmental entity.

“We appreciate that the committee has rejected the administration’s proposal to eliminate Energy Star, but this cut would be crippling as well,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “Energy Star is one of the most popular government programs in U.S. history and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support since it was created under President George H.W. Bush. More than 90 percent of Americans know the Energy Star brand. Meanwhile, 16,000 companies have voluntarily signed up to participate in it.”

That includes several window film manufacturers such as Eastman Chemical Company, 3M and Madico Inc. Eastman Chemical Company was also recognized as a 2017 Energy Star Partner of the Year.

The Energy Star cut outlined by the Appropriations Committee is part of funding reductions to the EPA that don’t match the huge ones sought by the administration. The House bill will fund the EPA at $7.5 billion, $1.9 billion above the president’s request for 2018.

However, the bill does make trims in many areas, and it includes language about “reshaping” the agency’s workforce “by providing resources requested to offer buyouts and voluntary separation agreements to employees.”

Energy Star’s final fate will be decided in the coming weeks as Congress works to pass a comprehensive spending bill before the end of September and avoid a government shutdown.

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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