But in an era of hyper-regulatory activity, interest in windows and doors is no longer just WDMA’s purview. ENERGY
STAR, the promotional program for energy-efficient products
and practices introduced in the 1990s by the Environmental
Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, began
to change the habits of consumers and producers of windows,
doors and skylights.
In early 2009, as a much-anticipated stimulus bill made
its way through Congress, there was a tax credit inserted for
the purchase of energy-efficient doors, windows and skylights.
At nearly the last minute, the qualifying criteria for such
products was changed. Skylights couldn’t meet it, it was less
than the door standard already in place, and — as applied to
windows in contrasting weather regions of the country — the
standard just didn’t make sense, O’Brien says.
“It was a wake-up call to the industry,” he says. “If we
were more organized at that point, folks on ‘The Hill’ would
have come to us and said, ‘Can you help us cut the cost of
this tax credit?’ That didn’t happen.”
By the time the industry worked legislation back through
the system, the tax credit was on the verge of expiring. Fed-
eral tax credits for windows and doors have been extended
through 2011, though at a lower rate, with ENERGY STAR
qualification as the standard.
“We have, in effect, had a silent partner step into our
organization, and it’s the federal government,” says Tourek,
former WDMA board chairman. “Most of our companies are
private. It’s like, `Let us create jobs and make windows and
stay as far away from what happens in Washington, D.C., as
possible.’ That’s not the Heartland.”
At that point, JELD-WEN, an Oregon-based window and
door giant employing more than 20,000 people worldwide,
had never made a political contribution, says JELD-WEN
Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Ron
Saxton. He says the industry’s lack of a collective advocacy
arm represents its fear of the unknown.
“The emergence of energy policies is so important,” says
Saxton, who worked with associations for 25 years in private
law practice. “You don’t choose whether you’re involved.
What happens in Washington, D.C., is going to impact us.”
Member companies embraced two realizations: The need
to participate in the political process and the inability to do
so on their own.
“It became clear we needed to prevent the unintended
2011 Tax Credit for Windows
•;How;much: 10 percent of the cost (not including
installation and labor costs), up to $200 for windows and skylights; up to $500 for doors.
•;Timing:;Tax credit in effect in 2011. Must be
installed in your “principal residence” between
Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011.
•;Qualifications: Must be ENERGY STAR qualified. You do not have to replace all windows,
doors and skylights in your home to qualify. And
it doesn’t need to be a replacement, either —
installing a new window where previously there
wasn’t one (i.e., in an addition) qualifies.
•;Find;qualified;models: Look for the ENERGY
•;How;to;apply: File Tax Form 5695 with your tax
For more information, including previous years’ tax
credit details, visit www.energystar.gov.
consequences of the tinkerers,” Tourek says. “In an effort to
improve one thing, sometimes another is impacted. None of
us lives in isolation.”
Doors to the Future
The first step in having OneVoice was deciding what that
voice would say. Less than a year after getting caught off
guard by stimulus standards, WDMA established a national
policy agenda for the industry, “a blueprint so as not to get
whipsawed any time a new regulation came up,” O’Brien
says. “Finally we’d know exactly where we should be going on
an issue when it’s proposed.”
Existing dollars were used to support OneVoice; associa-
tion dues didn’t increase. Smaller companies didn’t have the
resources for any advocacy, and even the big ones lacked the
resources to make a difference.
“If you have no history of doing it, advocacy can seem
like an abstract concept to a lot of organizations,” O’Brien
says. “It’s not like putting on a meeting or publishing a
journal. It’s a program to advance, and that can seem amor-
phous. There are lots of legs to the stool.”
O’Brien says the process and particulars of the formation
of WDMA’s policy agenda can be extrapolated for other asso-
• Focus on primary issues. Don’t get sidetracked trying
to address too much and don’t be overly specific, as in
opposing a certain piece of legislation.
• Be transparent. Develop your policy agenda in the open,
with as much committee input as possible, but work vigorously with a timeline in mind.