Volume 45, Issue 9 - September 2010


DOE, EPA Give NFRC Further Direction on Energy-Related Research

During the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) first-ever virtual meeting in July, the board of directors discussed recent correspondence between the council’s Research and Technology Committee and the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE wants NFRC to create more competitive research on the long-term energy performance of fenestration products.

According to committee chair Werner Lichtenberger of Truseal Technologies, “Mark [LaFrance] was pretty specific in an e-mail exchange that he’d like NFRC to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) that involves research and testing.”

LaFrance wrote in correspondence with NFRC, “While DOE and NFRC have worked closely on research over the past few years, the research activity within NFRC seems to be limited.” He requested an opportunity to expand collaboration for activities not “directly related to the NFRC process” but otherwise of importance for the energy performance of windows.

Research regarding long-term energy performance is high on DOE’s list.

According to LaFrance’s e-mail, “DOE has been funding high risk, high reward research to achieve very high performing windows with U-values of 0.10 and that have dynamic solar control. As the invested value in windows increases, the need to maintain original energy performance as long as possible is of high concern. DOE would like to work with NFRC staff to prepare an RFP that involves research and testing to support the formulation of a long-term energy performance test procedure. Furthermore, the contractor should also work to promulgate the test procedure within the ASTM process. This research could have a second phase that may be completed separately that would establish benchmarks to assess relative long-term energy performance levels or bins.”

Several council members noted that the direction of the research would need to be better clarified.

“If we’re going to go down this road again let’s go down a different road because what we’ve always decided with long-term energy performance isn’t the goal,” said Mike Thoman of Architectural Testing. “We need a fresh look at what we’re chasing after.”

"As the invested value in windows increases, the need to maintain original
energy performance as long as possible is of high concern."
—Mark LaFrance

“It’s very important that we establish upfront that we can’t confuse long-term energy performance with durability …” added another listener. It was pointed out by several members that in previous discussions IG certification had acted as the primary gauge as it has the most potential to change significantly, in terms of fenestration energy performance, over time.

The discussion was referred back to the NFRC Research and Technology Committee to pursue further.

During the board of directors’ question-and-answer session a meeting attendee asked for the status of the board’s work on putting together blind testing for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star® program.

During the NFRC’s last meeting, EPA representatives noted that they are seeking some form of fenestration verification for Energy Star products, such as a blind purchasing testing program.

According to Jim Larsen of Cardinal Glass, “The board of directors has been working closely with EPA and Energy Star. [They] have put together an outline that provides the basis for a blind verification procedure that will meet Energy Star requirements.” He added that “EPA does recognize NFRC and its labs and its certification programs will be the only one qualified to run an Energy Star program once we’ve agreed upon this verification procedure.”

NFRC chair Joe Hayden of Pella said EPA has been pleased with NFRC’s progress so far. He added, “[The] only gap they see is that the program doesn’t have any aftermarket volume verifications.”

In related news, NFRC announced just prior to its online meeting that glass manufacturer PPG Industries and sealant manufacturer ADCO Products were the first companies to submit spacers into its component modeling approach software tool (CMAST) database.

Along with this announcement, NFRC’s board of directors noted that it will waive CMAST’s spacer and frame component fees for the remainder of 2010, in an initiative designed to spur participation from spacer manufacturers.

“Ordinarily, submitting these components into CMAST would require a nominal per-component fee,” commented Jim Benney, NFRC’s chief executive officer. “The board, however, views waiving these fees as an effective means to allow the CMA program to continue to gain traction as a viable modeling tool that will ultimately prove invaluable to the fenestration industry.”

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