Volume 40,   Issue 10                          October  2005


Lending a Hand in California
Complying with Non-Residential Requirements
by Jim Benney

Today, most states have regulations establishing minimum energy performance requirements for fenestration products. A reliable system that reports exactly what the performance of those products are is needed to comply with these requirements, allowing the code officials to quickly verify what has been installed. 

NFRC has long had a close relationship with the state of California. The “Golden State,” along with Oregon and Washington, was among the first states to adopt energy code requirements and reference NFRC standards for determining energy performance of fenestration products. More importantly, California actually recognizes NFRC as the “supervisory entity” responsible for ensuring that fenestration product energy ratings are fair, uniform and credible.

“In order to function in California’s state code arena and serve as its supervisory entity, NFRC is required to meet a 12-part criteria,” said Tony Rygg of the California Energy Commission. “They have consistently met the state’s criteria and have exceeded our expectations to provide a trusted, third-party program,” he added.
It should also come as no surprise that California recently updated its energy codes.

(The California Energy Commission does a great job in announcing plans and asking for input.) The new 2005 California Energy Efficiency Standards went into effect October 1, 2005, with a great majority of changes relating to cool roofs, lighting, ducts and ventilation controls, as well as changes relating to fenestrations. 

Title 24, Part 6 
Changes - Fenestration

Residential replacement fenestration products must meet the prescriptive requirements for U-factor and SHGC in Package D and SHGC ratings of 0.40 or less in 12 of the 16 climate zones.

In non-residential buildings, glazing area is now limited to 40 percent of the west facing gross exterior wall area in the prescriptive compliance approach, and in the performance compliance approach a penalty will be given above 40 percent. 

Other important changes relate to non-residential buildings and the NFRC Site-Built Certification and Rating Program. These specifically include clarifications in the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Non-residential Buildings, Section 10-111, “Certification and Labeling Requirements of Fenestration Product U-factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and Air-Leakage” and Section 116 “Mandatory Requirements for Fenestration Products and Exterior Doors.” 

What’s In? What’s Out?
Changes to Section 116 include omitting the following exception from meeting the requirements for certifying and labeling fenestration products in non-residential buildings: “Exception: Site assembled vertical glazing in buildings covered by the non-residential standards with less than 100,000 square feet of conditioned floor area or less than 10,000 square feet of vertical glazing.” 

In its place is a new exception to Section 116 that states: “Exception: If the fenestration product is site-built fenestration in a building covered by the non-residential standards with less than 10,000 square feet of site-built fenestration or is a skylight, the default U-factor may be the applicable U-factor as set forth in the Non-Residential ACM Manual.”

In addition, the code notes that the requirements of Section 116 did not apply to “field-fabricated products.” These are defined as follows: “Field-fabricated fenestration product or exterior door is a fenestration product or exterior door whose frame is made at the construction site of standard dimensional lumber or other materials that were not previously cut, or otherwise formed with the specific intention of being used to fabricate a fenestration product or exterior door. Field fabricated does not include site-built fenestration with a label certificate or products required to have temporary or permanent labels.”

The Bottom Line
How do these changes affect suppliers of the non-residential fenestration market? Basically, they now mean that all field-fabricated products and all fenestration products installed in buildings with less than 10,000 square feet of fenestration area do not need to be certified and labeled (i.e., require label certificates). If they are not labeled, the Energy Commission’s default values for U-factor and SHGC will automatically apply. 

In addition, they mean that all other fenestration products not meeting these exceptions must be labeled (have NFRC label certificates) with either the Energy Commission’s default ratings or NFRC-rated label certificates.

This means that code officials will be looking for temporary NFRC label certificates (to be removed after code official inspection) on the majority of new building square footage built in California. In addition, since the default ratings do not typically provide credit for actual product performance, more fenestration products will be required to be certified and labeled in accordance with the NFRC Site-Built Certification and Rating Program. 

The NFRC Site-Built Program
The NFRC Site-Built Program, in existence since 1999, uses the same tools and software as NFRC’s program for manufacturer fenestration products. Therefore, curtainwall manufacturers can take advantage of thermally improved system designs and the spectral data library for glazing performance. In addition, they can assist glazing contractors by obtaining validated NFRC simulation and test reports, and/or Certification Authorization Reports (CAR), on specific systems that have been rated in accordance with NFRC 100 and NFRC 200. This allows the glazing contractor or other responsible party to use either already authorized products to obtain a label certificate for a project, or a validated test report to obtain a new CAR (and NFRC label certificate) based on the actual glazing being installed on the building. Utilizing framing products and designs that are already in the NFRC system can save the contractor or responsible party a considerable amount of time when an NFRC label certificate is required for code compliance. 

the author:
Jim Benney serves as executive director of the National Fenestration Rating Council based in Silver Spring, Md.

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