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April-May-June 2002

The Rate Debate

Energy Overhaul
        New Energy Ratings Mean Major Change for the Industry
by Susan Douglas

Thanks to a lot of hard work over the last several years, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) plans to introduce a host of changes to its energy performance rating and labeling system this year.

Perhaps the most obvious change, the one that will effect participating manufacturers most, is the move to one-size product testing. Gone is the former requirement that manufacturers test two different-sized products, one residential and another non-residential. This will streamline the system considerably and reduce costs to participants.

As a result, NFRC also plans to introduce a new temporary energy performance label. The new label takes into account the need to include a single-size rating, and incorporates numerous changes based on research NFRC conducted with everyone who uses the label. For example, the new label includes a designated section for ratings that are mandated in state codes so code officials will be able to choose the ratings quickly that they need to gauge code compliance (see new label below).

LABEL The NFRC’s new temporary energy performance label.

Specific Changes
Last year NFRC had approved new documents for almost all of its ratings products. All in all, it’s been a productive two years. Some of the specific changes are summarized below:
    • NFRC 100. In addition to one-size testing, the new U-factor rating procedure includes provisions found previously in
       NFRC 100-97 for fenestration products, but now also provides methods for rating garage doors and tubular daylighting  

    • The new format will also include NFRC 100SB as part two of the document. Thus residential, commercial and site-built          fenestration products will be in one document. Another new feature of NFRC 100-01 allows size-specific matrices to be          calculated for individual products within a product line. Although this is permissible, only those ratings obtained at the s           standard size shall be certified;

    • NFRC 200. Our procedures for rating solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) has been revised to permit only one method to          determine SHGC ratings. Table 5.1, which defines the range of glass thickness for standardization to representative glass          thickness, has been revised. Both NFRC 100 and 200 shall include provisions incorporating ISO 15099;
                                                                                 Table 5.1

Range of Glazing Infill Pane Thickness, mm(in.) Used in Product Line Represented by Size, mm(in.)
x 2.0                          (x 5/64) Actual
2.0 < x 4.5                (5/64 < x 11/64) 3.0 (1/8)
4.5 < x 7.1                (11/64 < x 9/32) 6.0 (1/4)
x <  7.1                        (9/32 <  x) Actual

    • NFRC 300 and 301. These procedures, which relate to spectral data (visible transmittance, UV, etc.), will be merged into a          single NFRC 300 document;

    • NFRC 400. Our air leakage procedures now include operating force, reporting in liters per second-meter2, and calls for          reporting of all product air leakage rates to one decimal place in accordance with ASTM E29, with a minimum reported rate          of 0.1;

    • NFRC 500. Approved in 2001, this new procedure now has an official name: condensation resistance.

What This Means for Participants
With every change, we carefully considered the impact these would have on participating manufacturers. In fact, one of our top priorities was to make it easier, simpler and less expensive than ever before for manufacturers of all sizes to rate and label their products through the NFRC system.

To that end, the NFRC board of directors has begun discussing a series of transition policies to smooth the process for all participants. While the board has identified a tentative implementation date of January 1, 2003, we want to make sure that our members, and other important stakeholders, are able to provide input on the best possible transition strategy. Currently, the board is considering the following steps:

    • Products certified to NFRC 100-97 shall have the full four-year term from the date of certification authorization;

    • NFRC 100-97, the older U-factor procedure, shall terminate December 31, 2002;

    • Any product certified to NFRC 100-97 shall have the option to recertify under NFRC 100-01 after the implementation          date;

    • The plus-or-minus six month re-certification period will be removed;

    • Use of the new NFRC temporary label (one size) may begin January 1, 2003;

    • The existing NFRC temporary label (two sizes) shall be used for NFRC 100-97 certifications until they expire.

For the most part, the system will function as before in terms of information flow. Hopefully, manufacturers will realize a reduction in costs.   


Susan Douglas serves as administrator of the National Fenestration Rating Council in Silver Spring, Md.


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