Volume 8, Issue 5 - May 2007
NFRC to Mandate
Insulating Glass Certification
Task Group Encourages IG
The thermal performance of insulating glass (IG) systems has long been recognized as critical to the overall thermal performance of a fenestration system. After all, the glazing area typically makes up the largest area of a window. The inclusion of low-E coatings, insulating gas and warm-edge spacers has impacted overall fenestration performance dramatically and has been a key factor in reducing energy loss through the building envelope.
Why the Requirement?
In response, the NFRC board of directors formed the “IG Certification Task Group” and assigned the
As part of its assignment, the IG Certification Task Group surveyed all participant companies of the NFRC certification program to determine current breadth of IG certification within the industry and the impact of such a requirement. Of the approximately 400 participants surveyed, 150 responded and a summary is shown above.
Because a primary concern of the task group was the extent of the impact on the industry, the fact that more than 67 percent of the respondents were utilizing certified IG in one manner or another is encouraging. The overwhelming attitude of the negative comments is the potential for additional cost necessary to certify fenestration products under the NFRC.
Critical discussion was to determine the necessity of such a requirement. Support was given based on the utilization of NFRC ratings in the analysis of the building envelope thermal performance for energy efficiency. The failure of an IG unit can degrade thermal performance seriously due to loss of insulating gas and the deterioration of low-E coatings due to moisture intrusion. With the support of the DOE, the recommendation to mandate certification of IG units under the NFRC certification program was approved by the NFRC board of directors. This requirement is contingent upon the development by the task group of an acceptable implementation plan that addresses acceptance criteria for third-party certification programs and the implications of additional cost. It is not the intent of the NFRC to develop its own IG certification program. The task group is working to make this recommendation at the NFRC Summer Meeting in Denver, Colo.
What Does This Mean to IG Manufacturers?
Additionally, some units–particularly those with only a single-seal construction–may have difficulty passing the test requirements and some reengineering may be required to continue participation in the NFRC and Energy Star programs. Manufacturers should give themselves plenty of time before the mandate goes into effect and anticipate additional costs to redesign or purchase new IG fabrication equipment necessary for them to be compliant.
According to the IGMA website (www.igmaonline.org), manufacturers first need to provide the following items to start the certification
Once the facility is ready to provide test samples, an IGMA field auditor will be sent to the site to witness production of the units and apply the appropriate labels. The labeled test samples are then sent directly to an IGMA-approved test facility, certified either by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) or the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) or accredited for testing by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It can take up to two weeks for a field auditor to visit so be sure to add this into the overall timeline.
While each certification organization dictates its own requirements, typical construction for test unit submittal is:
IG testing includes the following and can take six to eight weeks to
After testing the prototypes, the completed audit form and test results will then be forwarded to the IGMA certification program administrator by the testing laboratory. A license agreement will then be forwarded to the certification council for acceptance and a subsequent notice of certification will be sent to the manufacturer.
Protocol similar to IGMA’s is followed by other certification organizations. The first step with IGMA is to fill out an application form, which is available online at www.igmaonline.org/certification/IGMA.
A Positive Step for the Industry
For more information, visit www.nfrc.org.
Tracy Rogers is the technical director for Edgetech I.G. and co-chair of the NFRC IG Certification Task Group.