Volume 42, Issue 12 - December 2007

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NFRC Moves Forward with CMA 
Development During Fall Meeting 

Debates, controversy and disagreements—all have been known to take place during meetings of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The most recent gathering, though—the group’s fall meeting, which took place November 5-8 in Tempe, Ariz.—was relatively quiet. Sure, the development of the Component Modeling Approach (CMA) had its share of discussion, but for the most part the meeting saw little uproar.

One concern regarding CMA involved the information that is included on the label. During the labeling requirements task group meeting Greg Carney, technical director of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), said it’s important that architects, code officials and others who read the label could relate to and understand the information presented.

“This needs to tie back directly to the specification,” Carney said. “The architect needs to be able to see the label in plain English and know that he has what he needs to have.”

Bipin Shah of WinBuild Inc. agreed with Carney.

“We want to help the person identify what the product is and if we can get that [type of] format I strongly suggest we use that,” Shah said.

The frame grouping research ballot was also discussed during the CMA – technical subcommittee meeting. Tom Culp of Birch Point Consulting reported to the group on the negatives received.

The default values for framing products were a concern to some members who questioned the validity and accuracy of certain numbers. A negative from Mike Thoman of Architectural Testing Inc. requested that the default table be removed. “The table should be removed as it’s not appropriate for [determining] an NFRC 100 rating,” said Thoman. “I have issues with using default values as I do not think it’s in alignment with NFRC’s mission.” 

Culp said having the default values would make it easier for manufacturers, especially smaller companies, to use the CMA program, as this way they will not have to have every one of their own products tested and rated.

Jeff Baker of WESTLab, and chair of the technical committee, spoke strongly in favor of removing the default table.“I’m not sure that default frame numbers, when there are huge variables, [will provide] accurate and credible results,” Baker said. Others agreed with Culp that having the default values would be good.

“It simplifies what the industry is looking for,” said Mike Manteghi of Traco, who also serves as the CMA – technical subcommittee chair. “There are a lot of standardized products already out there.”

After much discussion, a motion was passed to keep the default table, but to further review and research the information for accuracy and credibility. 

In addition to CMA, NFRC members explored ratings for three new products: dynamic attachments and exterior and interior window coverings. The board agreed to establish a series of task groups to explore the technical aspects of developing a rating, as well as an attachment subcommittee to oversee the work of the task groups. 

Rod Van Buskirk, chairperson of the National Glass Association (NGA), had also been scheduled to address the board regarding NGA’s position on the development of CMA. However, due to a sudden illness Van Buskirk requested that a letter of NGA’s position be read during the meeting. In the letter, read by NFRC executive director Jim Benney, Van Buskirk stated that the NFRC’s “efforts to create a systems approach are unneeded, antiquated, and are simply a waste of the NFRC’s time and resources. If created, it is most likely that a new NFRC site-built commercial products labeling system will simply be ignored by the domestic commercial construction industry as the NFRC’s current site-built programs are.” 

The letter went on to state, “should the NFRC attempt to place such a system into building codes and specifications, the NGA will oppose those efforts on behalf of the American fenestration industry and the American public.”

While several industry trade organizations have been actively involved, working with and meeting with NFRC board members extensively in the development of CMA, participation by NGA has been minimal.

“We’ll thank the NGA for the letter and [will] respond appropriately,” said Marcia Falke, chairperson of the NFRC board.

Also during the board meeting, Carney addressed the board on concerns regarding information laid out in the NFRC’s 2005 strategic planning initiatives related to CMA, including NFRC’s efforts to secure funding. Carney stressed the need to gain funding from those who see the need for CMA.

Alicia Ward, with the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and an NFRC board member, said NFRC has been moderately successful in gaining outside funding, but could not comment further, as they wanted to have “final answers” before releasing information.

Rich Karney from the Department of Energy (DOE) later said the DOE is hoping to make a “significant contribution” to the CMA efforts, though he did not know the exact amount.

“It’s our hope that by doing so others will support this effort,” Karney said.

Providing information to customers and bringing information about CMA to the marketplace was also a concern for Carney. He said it would be helpful to organize discussions with those in the industry, such as architects and specifiers, who need to be made more aware of the program that is being developed.

“The effort can’t be successful if it’s only created in this room,” Carney said.

Benney agreed and said the NFRC could use help and assistance in educating the industry from groups such as GANA, which reach audiences that the NFRC does not.

John Lewis, technical director for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (which serves as an NFRC independent administrator) also addressed the board. He suggested the NFRC find a way to separate the CMA software tool from the certification program. 

“I believe there is value in the software tools and NFRC should explore ways to get that tool out there so the industry can start using it,” said Lewis.

The next NFRC meeting will take place March 3-6, 2008 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.  

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