Release 09-60
June 25, 2009

    Stanley Young
916-956-9409 cell
California adopts first-in-nation approach to keep cars cooler
New standards will block sun's heat-producing rays through windows

SACRAMENTO- Today, the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation that will require new cars sold in California, starting in 2012, to have windows that reflect or absorb heat-producing rays from the sun. This will help keep cars cooler, increase their fuel efficiency and reduce global warming pollution.

Cooler cars mean less air conditioning thereby increasing fuel efficiency and preventing about 700,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere in 2020 - roughly the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road for a year.

"This is a common-sense and cost-effective measure that will help cool the cars we drive and fight global warming," said ARB ChairmanMary D. Nichols. "It represents the kind of innovative thinking we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles and steer our economy toward a low-carbon future.

A variety of new and currently available approaches will be used to achieve the standards including adding chemicals to the glass during manufacturing to absorb the sun's energy and using laminated glass coated with invisible microscopic specks of metal to reflect it. Windshields that comply with the standard will continue to offer full visibility.

Compared to cars currently in showrooms, windows that comply with the standard will block 33 percent more heat-producing rays from the sun. This will cool the vehicle's interior by approximately 14 degrees Fahrenheit for a car and 12 degrees Fahrenheit for a pickup or SUV. Lower temperatures require less use of air conditioning, both upon starting a car parked in the sun and while driving in sunny conditions.

Other benefits include a cooler interior upon entering the car, less time for the air conditioning to reach a comfortable temperature, and reduced fading of upholstery and cracking of the dashboard.

The regulation has two steps. Over a three-year period starting in 2012 windows in new cars sold in California must prevent 45 percent of the sun's total heat-producing energy from entering the car, with the windshield rejecting at least 50 percent of the sun's energy.

In 2016 car manufacturers will be required to install windows in new cars sold in California that prevent at least 60 percent of the sun's heat-producing rays from entering the cars interior, or propose alternative technologies to achieve an equivalent result.

Costs for the windows are expected to average $70 for the 2012 standard, and about $250 for the 2016 standard, with annual savings in gas of $16 and $20 respectively. Costs would be recouped over a five to twelve year period.

This initiative follows on the heels of a series of other measures adopted by the Board under AB 32 (Núñez, 2006), California's pioneering climate change legislation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. These include a standard for cleaner lower-carbon vehicle fuels, and a regulation to ensure tire pressure is checked at smog check, oil change and other maintenance facilities.

California is also awaiting approval of a waiver from the federal government to enforce standards under its Clean Car Law that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent from vehicles over the next seven years.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.