Volume 40, Issue 12 December 2005
NFRC Task Group Keeps Forward Momentum
By Stanley L. Smith
The recent National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) non-residential products (ratings) task group meeting in Santa Fe, N.M., chaired by the GANA technical director, Greg Carney, continued the commercial fenestration industry’s efforts to work within NFRC protocols toward providing a simplified and cost-effective ratings program for commercial fenestration that fits best within the industry’s long-standing record of providing efficient (including cost efficient) products for customers.
GANA continues to work toward a program that addresses the various issues and needs of the industry and building owners. We also believe that this can be done without adding detrimental expense to the bottom line of the building owner who may opt out of fenestration as a viable consideration for their construction needs. The decrease of fenestration products in commercial construction helps no one, and leads us back into the monolithic building styles of yesteryear. A new era in architectural design, with “daylighting” as the key, can regress to earlier trends if dramatic cost increases in commercial fenestration results.
A contentious issue in the task group discussions has been working to make the new program “cost effective.” The efforts to address the cost effectiveness of the proposed program haven’t yet provided clearly defined outcomes. The scope of the original draft of the program included the words “cost effective,” but some participants at the Quebec City meeting asked that they be removed. An effort to add them back in at the Atlanta meeting (following guidance provided by the NFRC board of directors during their official meeting in Quebec City) was unsuccessful after substantive discussion. The hang-up on this issue is defining “cost effective” and determining quantitatively that the program meets the definition. Rather than shooting at an undefined and potentially moving target, the task group is planning on addressing the cost factor within the construction of the program, rather than including it in the program’s scope. This is a key factor in any program supported by the task group.
Out of the many interests of the task group, the definition of who is considered the “responsible party” for ensuring product certification on commercial products brought significant discussion and debate. As you can imagine, it is a contentious issue that has strong support—and conversely, opposition for many of the different parties being considered. The current draft of the proposal has the “responsible party” identified as the “registered design professional.” It was debated again at the Atlanta meeting in October, and a 14-5 vote of the task group members kept the “responsible party” as the design professional. There have been suggestions, though, that the responsible party could be changed to the “specifying authority,” and these suggestions will be considered in the forthcoming draft three of the proposal. The issue, however, remains open.
Another topic of discussion at both the Atlanta meeting and the earlier Quebec City meeting concerns third-party certification. This nebulous discussion has focused on the definition and role of third-party verification, not whether third-party certification is required. A third-party certification proposal was removed from the original draft of the program, and wasn’t considered in draft two. The general consensus from task group members, however, is that there will be some form of third-party certification mechanism, but that unlike the structure of the current residential program, a yet-to-be-defined NFRC-approved entity will merely verify calculations of whole product performance that has been initiated by approved users (calculation agencies) of NFRC software.
The task group met during the 2005 NFRC Fall Meeting and voted to disband the task group, thus moving the efforts to the next level of development, the non-residential product subcommittee. Actions at the subcommittee level within the NFRC structure will bring balloting of specific proposals in the development of the Component-Based Fenestration Product Certification Program. Significant developments have been made in molding large differences of opinion into a basic consensus, and throughout the process GANA membership will continue to provide ideas and leadership on the issue.
Stanley L. Smith is the executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), headquartered in Topeka, Kan.
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