Volume 40,   Issue 9                                  September  2005

News Now

GANA Presents Alternative to NFRC
Non-Residential Rating Proposal

A new task group headed by Greg Carney, technical director of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), presented an alternative method for determining the energy efficiency of commercial products at the recent NFRC meeting in Quebec City. An alternative flow chart for the certification process was offered at the non-residential products task group (ratings) meeting.

The new flow chart, which shows the component approval process, was posted on the NFRC website, and was to be available for public comment until September 9. The comments will be discussed during the task group’s next meeting, currently planned for October 5 in Atlanta. The group’s goal is to finalize the flow chart by the NFRC’s next meeting, taking place November 29-December 2 in Santa Fe, N.M. Once the chart is finalized the group will begin developing the program’s language. 

The revised chart starts out just as the original, and with the components already in the program and the spectral data approved. The concept is to create “libraries” for the glass, spacers and framing. 

“With this information, the designer would be able to select the three components to meet his criteria,” Carney explained. “One way NFRC can provide value is to be the one source a designer can go to for meeting the criteria outlined,” he said. “In the second draft, this process is very well defined: how you comply and how you provide documents to be in compliance. There is less policing because that takes place in the industry.”

Under the second draft proposal, the registered design professional selects an accredited calculation agency (ACA) and provides detailed information about the construction of the system (the number of lites, glass type, glass thickness, glass coating type, coating placement, spacer gap width and gas fill). Then the ACA calculates the energy performance rating values in accordance with NFRC 100 using NFRC-approved web-based software tools. The calculation is stored in the web-based software program for authorized access to designers to develop an NFRC label.

“In creating these ‘libraries,’ the work is done in the framing,” Carney explained. “Creating that library will take time, but it would be worth it. It would be as valuable as the glass library has become,” he added.

Larry Livermore, technical standards manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), made the point that testing has already been done for regular components and systems so it is only necessary to validate that testing.

“On the large custom curtainwalls, they are going to be tested [already], so make an incentive to incorporate testing costs that would be done anyway into this program,” he suggested. “On the commercial side, there is a lot that can be grouped rather than individually tested.”

Cost of testing is certainly on the minds of many in the industry when they think about the NFRC program. At the meeting in Quebec, attendees discussed the scope of the group. “To develop a component-based product certification program for commercial (non-residential) fenestration products and systems which will provide cost effective value to the end users” was proposed. A number of people questioned the phrase “cost effective” in the statement and by vote it was eliminated.

Carney asked the NFRC board of directors during their meeting at what point in time costs of the program would be addressed since the term “cost effective” had been dropped from the scope. Marvin Stover, NFRC chairperson, said it was valid to consider costs at the task group level, and acknowledged that it was important. Carney said he would ask the task group at the October meeting to reinstate the phrase back into the scope.

There is also much interest about how such a certification/labeling program could possibly work.

In the current proposal, the label is a single piece of paper comprised of two parts. The first would be a reference to the framing system with all possible U-factor numbers based on the infill it will receive. The second would be a sticker applied to the paper in a designated area of the page with the center of glass figure for the IG and an arrow that is positioned on the sticker to correspond with the center of glass of the glass shipment.

As Charlie Curcija of Carli Inc. and chairperson of the technical task group, explained “When the framing system arrives, it has a framing certificate label. When the glazing arrives, it has a glazing label certificate that has a glazing sticker. The contract glazier takes the sticker and transfers it to the framing label to make a product label certificate.”

There has been general agreement that the stickers need to be handled somewhere other than the jobsite. One possibility would be to ship the certificates to the glazing contractor’s office.

But not everyone sees the labeling issue the same way. The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), which, in general, supports the new proposal, has reservations about the labeling process.

“It is a hard copy path for those companies not comfortable with the web-based procedure,” pointed out Margaret Webb, IGMA executive director. “It involves a two-sided sheet, one side with arrows and the second page with U-factor, SHGC and VT values. The component manufacturer (IG manufacturer and framing manufacturer) takes an arrow and sticks it beside the appropriate value on the second page. These sheets are then provided to the glazing contractor who transposes the values onto another sheet. The possibilities for errors in either making sure the arrows are in exactly the right space or the second transposition of the information by the glazing contractor onto another sheet is greatly increased over the web-based procedure. It’s just not a good process and IGMA does not support it, especially since there has been discussion about the IG manufacturer and the framing manufacturer being the responsible party for these values.” 

The web-based procedure, in Webb’s opinion, should be much more accurate as it reduces the possibility of human error as long as the original library information is entered correctly. “Certification will require using an-NFRC authorized entity and they will be accredited to use the software to get the final values,” she explained. “This will be printed as a hard copy report and can be faxed to those companies that are not comfortable in a web-based environment, so the system works much better. One of IGMA’s objectives is to simplify this system; the hard copy labeling proposal unnecessarily complicates the process and has the potential to generate inaccurate values.”

“Under the component modeling approach, the idea is that information is known ahead of time,” said Jim Benney, NFRC executive director. “We have to give the code official the information that the fenestration systems in this building meet code. If we’re telling code officials that this meets codes, we have to have a paper trail to be able to back that up.”

Benney pointed out that NFRC provides a standardized method for determining performance. “We standardize procedures and processes so that everyone is reporting and interpreting their information in the same way.” 


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