Serious Materials, the well-funded green building materials start-up has had some early business and PR successes but still faces a number of challenges:

  • Scaling-up production to tackle the enormous buildings materials market
  • Driving down costs to become a profitable player in the highly competitive buildings material market
  • Proving themselves as a volume manufacturer, green company, and creator of green jobs

On top of those challenges, Serious is now faced with dealing with conspiracy theorists from Minnesota and the Fox Network.

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) is making claims about an alleged conflict of interest between a high-ranking Obama Administration official and Serious Material's receipt of ARRA funds.   

ARRA is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The U.S. DOE's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received $16.8 billion in ARRA funds to promote green power and conservation programs including a tax credit for homeowners who install energy-efficient windows.  The Assistant Secretary of Energy, Cathy Zoi, is responsible for oversight in disbursing these stimulus funds.

The FFM notes that Ms. Zoi is married to Robin Roy, an executive at Serious Materials.  The allegation looks serious but it's not.   Before we straighten that out - who or what is the FFV?

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

According to their literature, "The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota...advocates the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, economic freedom, and limited government.  Founded in 2006, we hope to create a better and more vibrant future for every Minnesotan by helping shape sound public policy."  OK, everybody wants that.

In 2009 the foundation was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's 2009 conference for climate change skeptics.   

And it would appear the FFV has Fox Business' John Stossel on their side. Here's a video from Stossel and the FFM

Serious Clears the Air - Note the Timeline

Kevin Surace, the CEO of Serious Materials, responded to these accusations in an email to your humble narrator.  He straightens out the timeline and pretty much sets the record straight.

"We have nothing to hide." said the CEO.  He continues in his email:

"Robin Roy had worked for us long before Cathy [Zoi] was offered that job. Her bi-partison hearings included full disclosure about Robin’s job. Fully transparent from day one, and all a matter of public record.

Though I have not visited Cathy, we have coordinated with the DOE for several years now, including my prior visits with Andy Karsner, John Misrock, and Paul Dickerson in the Bush administration. I personally knew and know them all. And should, as the DOE is involved in energy efficiency. This is why we often cite the DOE as important to all of us.

Most importantly, we opened the [Vandergrift] PA factory on March 16, 2009 and the President mentioned it March 27th, and Chicago was visited by the Vice President on April 27, 2009.

But Cathy was not confirmed by the Senate until June 19, 2009. [She was nominated in April].

So it seems that someone didn’t actually check the facts.

Lastly, we have not received one dime directly from DOE, or any other federal agency. However one of our plants was just listed as one of 183 that meet the requirement for a tax credit of $548K over the next 4 years for the purchase of certain equipment. Should we complete the purchase of that equipment, we will be eligible for that. We were one of the smallest credits on the list which included PPG, Schott and Saint Gobain."

[Note - the firms listed by Surace are glass and architectural glass firms which corrects yet another false Stossel accusation about there being no other window companies on the list].

Serious Materials claims to have the most energy efficient windows in the world - an R-11 certified by the NFRC.  Firms like Thermotech make similar claims.

Serious 1    Fox News 0



Guide to Efficient Windows

DOE EERE on purchasing energy efficient windows