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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking over as the brand manager for the Energy Star products program, according to a recently announced plan to coordinate efforts with the Department of Energy to expand and enhance both Energy Star and the new National Building Rating Program.

The announcement, which came out just prior to GlassBuild America, also notes a new Super Star category of product is being added beyond Energy Star. According to the new partnership summary, performance levels will be set using established and consistent principles for the Energy Star brand. Generally, products in the top 25 percent will qualify as Energy Star and the top 5 percent will qualify as Super Star.

In addition to the new effort to recognize superefficient products, the announcement states that the Energy Star products program will be enhanced through expanded coverage, more frequent updates and enhanced efforts on product testing.

Currently, the Energy Star program is co-managed by EPA and DOE.  EPA handles certain product categories and DOE handles others, including the Energy Star windows, doors and skylights program. With the change, Energy Star windows, doors and skylights will move over to EPA, which will take over responsibility for  marketing, outreach, monitoring and verification, and setting the performance level(s).

Speaking at an energy efficiency town hall forum held in conjunction with GlassBuild last week, current DOE program manager for Energy Star windows said talks to transition responsibilities would start soon, but he could not yet give a timetable for the change to take effect.

While EPA takes over Energy Star, DOE will manage the National Building Rating Program, consisting of building test procedures, building rating tools, and consumer-oriented building labels, the summary explains. DOE will establish all Federal test procedures for buildings, which will include asset, and operational characteristics, and benchmark buildings against similar buildings. EPA, however, will be the brand manager when the Energy Star is applied to whole buildings.

Under the new EPA/DOE partnership, a new governing council is being created, made up of the EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation and the DOE Assistant Secretary for En ergy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This council, according to the announcement:

Will guide, coordinate, and oversee annual budget requests, annual program plans, and future changes to key program elements.

Will ensure that work programs between EPA and DOE are complementary (and not duplicative) and leverage federal dollars to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

Will coordinate communication about this partnership to outside stakeholders, including Congress, the Administration, and the public.

Will ensure that Energy Star, EPCA appliance standard, and whole building related programs are mutually reinforcing and coordinate their enforcement and verification efforts.

Will hold meetings twice annually with stakeholders.