DOE, EPA Give NFRC Further Direction on
During the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC)
first-ever virtual meeting in July, the board of directors discussed recent
correspondence between the council’s Research and Technology Committee
and the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE wants NFRC to create more competitive
research on the long-term energy performance of fenestration products.
According to committee chair Werner Lichtenberger of Truseal Technologies,
“Mark [LaFrance] was pretty specific in an e-mail exchange that he’d like
NFRC to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) that involves research and
LaFrance wrote in correspondence with NFRC, “While DOE and NFRC have worked
closely on research over the past few years, the research activity within
NFRC seems to be limited.” He requested an opportunity to expand collaboration
for activities not “directly related to the NFRC process” but otherwise
of importance for the energy performance of windows.
Research regarding long-term energy performance is high on DOE’s list.
According to LaFrance’s e-mail, “DOE has been funding high risk, high
reward research to achieve very high performing windows with U-values
of 0.10 and that have dynamic solar control. As the invested value in
windows increases, the need to maintain original energy performance as
long as possible is of high concern. DOE would like to work with NFRC
staff to prepare an RFP that involves research and testing to support
the formulation of a long-term energy performance test procedure. Furthermore,
the contractor should also work to promulgate the test procedure within
the ASTM process. This research could have a second phase that may be
completed separately that would establish benchmarks to assess relative
long-term energy performance levels or bins.”
Several council members noted that the direction of the research would
need to be better clarified.
“If we’re going to go down this road again let’s go down a different road
because what we’ve always decided with long-term energy performance isn’t
the goal,” said Mike Thoman of Architectural Testing. “We need a fresh
look at what we’re chasing after.”
"As the invested
value in windows increases, the need to maintain original
energy performance as long as possible is of high concern."
“It’s very important that we establish upfront that we can’t confuse long-term
energy performance with durability …” added another listener. It was pointed
out by several members that in previous discussions IG certification had
acted as the primary gauge as it has the most potential to change significantly,
in terms of fenestration energy performance, over time.
The discussion was referred back to the NFRC Research and Technology Committee
to pursue further.
During the board of directors’ question-and-answer session a meeting attendee
asked for the status of the board’s work on putting together blind testing
for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star® program.
During the NFRC’s last meeting, EPA representatives noted that they are
seeking some form of fenestration verification for Energy Star products,
such as a blind purchasing testing program.
According to Jim Larsen of Cardinal Glass, “The board of directors has
been working closely with EPA and Energy Star. [They] have put together
an outline that provides the basis for a blind verification procedure
that will meet Energy Star requirements.” He added that “EPA does recognize
NFRC and its labs and its certification programs will be the only one
qualified to run an Energy Star program once we’ve agreed upon this verification
NFRC chair Joe Hayden of Pella said EPA has been pleased with NFRC’s progress
so far. He added, “[The] only gap they see is that the program doesn’t
have any aftermarket volume verifications.”
In related news, NFRC announced just prior to its online meeting that
glass manufacturer PPG Industries and sealant manufacturer ADCO Products
were the first companies to submit spacers into its component modeling
approach software tool (CMAST) database.
Along with this announcement, NFRC’s board of directors noted that it
will waive CMAST’s spacer and frame component fees for the remainder of
2010, in an initiative designed to spur participation from spacer manufacturers.
“Ordinarily, submitting these components into CMAST would require a nominal
per-component fee,” commented Jim Benney, NFRC’s chief executive officer.
“The board, however, views waiving these fees as an effective means to
allow the CMA program to continue to gain traction as a viable modeling
tool that will ultimately prove invaluable to the fenestration industry.”
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