Volume 2   Issue 3               Fall 2001

All Fired Up

NFRC Meets in San Antonio to Discuss Hot Industry Issues
by Ellen Giard

The temperature wasn’t the only thing hot during the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) spring meeting, which took place May 13-17 in San Antonio. Opinions and debates also flared concerning the U-factor subcommittee’s ballot, NFRC 100 Combined: Procedure for Determining Fenestration Product U-Factors, which rates U-factors for doors and windows. 

According to Marcia Falke of Keystone Certifications Inc. of York, Pa., and U-factor subcommittee chair, some members want more production line testing, while others want to eliminate the validation test completely. “After ten years of testing products, some manufacturers feel the accuracy of the software algorithms and the competency of the simulators has been proven,” Falke said. “The organization does require production line units to be tested and these manufacturers feel the integrity of the program can be maintained by reducing the number of tests required.” Falke continued, “Also being discussed are changes to the testing required by extruders and fabricators. As an organization, the NFRC is trying to decide if the testing is required for validation from the technical side or if the testing requirement should come from the certification side of the program.”

Since so many negatives were addressed during the meeting, the group decided to re-ballot at the subcommittee level and discuss at its subsequent meeting, which took place June 27-29 in Cincinnati. Negatives were again addressed and approved. The ballot will next go to a joint technical and U-factor committee vote to be discussed at the NFRC’s fall meeting, which will take place September 18-22.

Energy Performance 

U-factor wasn’t the only topic on the meeting’s agenda. Monday morning opened with a membership meeting, in which Jim Larsen of Cardinal IG, based in Minne-tonka, Minn., and Dan Wise of the NFRC’s Pennsyl-vania office discussed the organization’s decision to permit only one size label rather than two. The NFRC believes this decision will simplify labeling for manufacturers, consumers and code administrators. 

“Moving to one size rating will simplify the product label with one set of values versus the current ‘res’ (residential) and ‘non-res’ (non-residential) ratings. We also think it will better align us for international growth and alleviate some of the confusion with having two sizes,” said Mark Mikkelson of Andersen Corp. and chair of the NFRC’s labeling subcommittee. “Most consumers walking up to the current label would not know intuitively what res and non-res mean, and why there are two sets of ratings on the label. The sizes upon which the ratings will be based are consistent with ISO 15099—an international thermal calculation standard.” 

“The new label size is really big news for the NFRC and will mean a brand-new NFRC-100 document,” said Susan Douglas, NFRC administrator. “Once the technical procedure changes, the label changes and so does everything we do,” she added. “We’ve always rated two sizes and now we will only be rating one. And that’s what consumers will see; only one size.” 

A labeling summit meeting was held August 21 in Chicago for both technical and marketing people from NFRC member organizations to meet and discuss redesign possibilities for the new label. The concepts from this meeting will be presented at the NFRC’s fall meeting. “It is my hope that the next NFRC label design will include graphics and language to better assist consumers in understanding the performance factors rated and certified by NFRC, and to improve fenestration product comparisons,” said Mikkelson.

Once the new label design is approved, the process begins changing documents to reflect the new format. However, when the new label design can be used has yet to be determined. 

Getting Technical 

Also meeting was the technical interpretation policy committee, chaired by Randy Van Voorst of Quality Testing Inc. of Everett, Wash. The committee discussed such matters as how to model bolts and thermal de-bridging in fenestration products and how to model garden windows. 

Discussion of certification of attachment systems, such as window film, was the topic of the fenestration attachments certification subcommittee. Rebecca Powles of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) chaired the meeting. With the NFRC working to create a certification for 
attachments, questions arose concerning placement of the NFRC label and how involved the NFRC needs to be in the attachment’s installation. “There are some who do a bad job of applying film. 

Do we get involved in the application process?” asked one in attendance. 

“The certification is being put on the product assuming it was installed correctly,” said another attendee. Another added a thermal performance of the product could not be determined unless something is known of how it was installed. 

At the meeting’s conclusion the group decided thermal barrier testing for new products would continue. If a product can be simulated, solar heat gain testing would not be required, but would be required for U-value testing. “It’s product-specific. You have to decide what’s best depending on the product; you can’t test all the same,” said another.

The annual energy performance (AEP) subcommittee held its meeting the morning of May 15. It was chaired by Dariush Arasteh of LBNL. Leonard Greenberger, of Potomac Communications Group in Washington, D.C., led an update of AEP and NFRC’s consumer market research. Greenberger said a focus group of 16 men and 13 women revealed that energy efficiency is very important, but everyone assumes new windows will be more energy efficient. Also, understanding and awareness of the NFRC’s ratings is very low. The study found that consumers want to see ratings on labels, manufacturer marketing materials, on the Web and through retailers. Research also found that the NFRC may want to consider whether both a comfort and AEP rating is necessary. A task group was formed to look at these matters further.

The regulatory affairs meeting included updates from the Efficient Windows Collaborative, which has signed a five-year cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy, and the Texas State Legislature, which has conducted screening studies to find good methods to encourage the use of more energy-efficient windows. “We have discovered that about 5 percent of windows sold in investor-owned areas have efficient windows,” said Jay Zarnikau of Frontier Associates. “We are going out and meeting with builders, hardware stores, etc., and telling them the benefits of efficient windows,” he added.

With so much on the meeting’s agenda, attendees found plenty to talk about both during meeting hours and free time, as some discussions trailed into dinner conversations. Most would agree, though, the NFRC’s meetings provide a strong opportunity to discuss issues of concern to both the organization and the industry. “San Antonio was a good turning point for the NFRC as to how products will be rated in the future as well as new labeling for the future,” said Mikkelson.

Ellen Giard is a contributing editor for Door & Window Maker magazine.

© Copyright 2001 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.