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NFRC to Pursue Extending Certificaiton Cycle

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NFRC’s Board of Directors approved moving forward with an initiative aimed at extending the organization’s product certification cycle from four years to five years during today’s open board meeting in Minneapolis.

The Certification Extension Task Group recommended the modification in part because of recent improvements that have strengthened the Product Certification Program (PCP). These include the success of the Independent Verification Program (IVP) along with increased plant quality control procedures, upgraded manufacturer practices, and more stringent oversight of inspection agencies.

NFRC staff emphasized that extending the cycle from four years to five years encourages additional participation in its programs, especially among small manufacturers, by reducing expenses for pursuing product ratings and certification. 

During the discussion, one objection stated the extension may weaken the integrity NFRC’s rating programs by reducing oversight and the validation of its ratings.

Supporters, however, contended that inspection agencies can provide sufficient oversight and pointed out the extension would also free up money for exploring innovations while also controlling the overall cost of fenestration products.

Ultimately, the board voted in favor of pursuing the initiative and stressed the importance of updating the NFRC’s Certified Product Director (CPD) to accommodate the change.

Staff is working to provide NFRC’s licensees with an estimate on the amount of time needed to prepare the CPD.

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NFRC To Release Faster Version of CMAST

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) announced yesterday during its membership meeting that it will soon release its fastest-performing version of CMAST, the organization’s commercial fenestration rating tool.

“Calculations that used to take 19 minutes now take about 11 seconds,” said Una Moneypenny, NFRC’s Director, IT Solutions. “It’s a vast improvement that answers our users’ call for a more efficient tool that determines commercial fenestration product energy performance.”

NFRC will soon announce the dates for a series of Webinars intended to help users navigate the upgraded version of CMAST, which is targeted for release in early November 2015.

NFRC’s Interim CEO, Deb Callahan, praised the accomplishment. She called it the realization of the organization’s goal to provide commercial fenestration product manufacturers with an immediate tool while it continues exploring the evolving needs of the commercial sector.

Callahan also pointed out that developing CMAST over the past several years has given NFRC additional insight for collaborating more effectively with industry players to create a scalable tool that aligns with the direction the industry is going.

“This is an important victory for NFRC and for the industry,” Callahan said. “We have a viable tool for use today, and it’s positioning us to create a sustainable business model for the future.”

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Interim CEO Callahan Sees NFRC Thriving

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Monday, September 21, 2015

Interim CEO, Deb Callahan, outlined some of the organization’s most prominent accomplishments during the opening session of its membership meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

Callahan reported that NFRC’s Independent Verification Program (IVP) is thriving and is on target to complete the testing of 10 percent of ENERGY STAR® certified product lines, meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) goal for the program.

She added that NFRC’s international harmonization initiatives are flourishing. During July, NFRC conducted certified simulator training for the Korean Architectural Façade Association (KAFA) and will leverage this into determining the South Korean government’s interest in developing a standardized rating program.

NFRC will also host a delegation from Japan during October to explore similar initiatives.

Additionally, NFRC has acquired 17 new members so far during 2015, bringing the total to 285. It also added 27 participants to its Retailer Program, bringing the total to 276.

Callahan pointed out that NFRC will publish an annual report within the next couple of months along with an educational video series aimed at providing all its stakeholders with faster, easier access to information enabling them to maximize NFRC’s programs.

"Best of all, member engagement is vibrant,” Callahan concluded. "We’ve attracted many new people with original ideas, and they’re contributing to making NFRC a modern organization with a strong vision, clear goals, and unlimited potential.”

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Understanding Window U-Factor

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Windows account for 40 percent of a building’s energy loss, and with energy costs and public demand for efficient buildings on the rise, using proven tactics to lessen this loss has become more important than ever.

Finding the best materials to contribute to a building’s performance targets is essential, but knowing which products will actually shrink the envelope’s energy footprint can be daunting. When it comes to windows, U-factor is a key figure to consider and comes standard on all National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels.

U-factor indicates how much energy will be lost from a building through its windows by specifying how many BTUs can pass through one square foot of material in an hour. Most windows today have U-factors between 0.15 and 1.20, which NFRC-certified labs calculate using thermal measurements from the center and edges of the glass, the frame and along any dividers the window may have. In other words, whole product performance. The different measurements capture the total impact of the numerous components of a window, including glazing, gas fills, spacers, frames, weather stripping and sealants.

When considering a fenestration product, “window shoppers” should look for the NFRC label, which provides U-factor data, along with information for solar heat gain, visible transmittance and air leakage.

Like the miles-per-gallon sticker on a car, the NFRC label – which can be affixed to the glass of all certified residential products or on a separate label certificate in the case of products in commercial applications – gives reliable, unbiased performance data to help architects, builders and even homeowners determine whether a product will meet their energy efficiency needs.

While NFRC does not recommend target U-factor values, the Efficient Windows Collaborative gives suggested thresholds based on climate zones:

·         Northern states: 0.35 or less

·         North Central or South Central states: 0.40 or less

·         Southern states: 0.60 or less

The ENERGY STAR® program, which relies on NFRC ratings to determine product eligibility, uses even stricter limits:

·         Northern, North Central and South Central states: 0.30 or less

·         Southern states: 0.40 or less.

Since NFRC began rating fenestration products more than 25 years ago, the program has helped to foster a 50 percent reduction in the average U-factor of certified products, a trend that has helped lower U.S. per-capita energy consumption to pre-1970 levels. As state and federal energy policies and building codes evolve, window manufacturers and builders will continue to find innovative solutions to curb window energy loss, helping to save Americans some of the $40 billion lost each year – and to significantly reduce the production of associated greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information about U-factor and window energy performance, visit

Tom Herron is director, communications and marketing, for the National Fenestration Rating Council. You can reach him at

NFRC is the leader in energy performance information, education, and certified ratings for fenestration products.

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NFRC Facilitates Compliance With EPA's Clean Power Plan

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Sunday, August 16, 2015

Building professionals know there are few complications more frustrating than finding out that a project’s fenestration fails to meet energy codes. As codes become stricter, the cost of compliance related to window, door, skylight and curtain wall failure will go up, threatening to put projects over budget and behind schedule.

A new challenge looming for building professionals is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) forthcoming Clean Power Plan (CPP). The plan mandates a carbon emissions reduction of 32 percent nationwide by 2030, with individual targets set for each state. State targets are based on “building blocks,” including the assumption that demand-side energy efficiency can improve by 1.5 percent per year for the next fifteen years. The EPA is encouraging states to tighten building energy codes in order to meet this aggressive goal.

Fortunately, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) rating and labeling program can help architects and builders avoid potential overruns and comply with code changes resulting from new policies like the CPP. For more than 25 years, NFRC has provided building professionals and consumers with fair, accurate and credible fenestration performance ratings that allow them to compare products and meet all applicable building energy codes.

NFRC’s ratings procedures appear in model building energy codes like ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code. NFRC ratings also determine eligibility for the ENERGY STARÒ program for residential windows. Understanding NFRC’s ratings will be key to meeting updated energy codes. NFRC’s ratings include:

·         Solar heat gain coefficient, which measures a product’s ability to block heat from the sun;

·         U-factor, which measures a product’s ability to prevent heat loss; and

·         Visible Transmittance, which measures the amount of light that comes through a product.

As state lawmakers seek to comply with the Clean Power Plan by cutting energy usage across the board, building professionals will need to focus on efficient fenestration more than ever. Taking fenestration into account during the earliest stages of design and construction will help ensure that projects comply with building codes and contribute to the state’s energy efficiency goals.

NFRC is the leader in energy performance information, education, and certified ratings for fenestration products. Contact Tom Herron at 240-821-9505 with any questions.

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Why Third-Party Certification Should Be Your First Choice

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, August 05, 2015

When you buy a window, door, or skylight that’s promoted as more energy efficient, you want to be sure it’s going to perform as advertised. One way to make a more educated choice is to understand how it was certified.

With the number of certification and labeling programs rising, it’s important to know how to evaluate them so you can accurately compare the products they represent and spend your money wisely.

Certification labels offer a convenient tool for verifying a product manufacturer’s claims. They are intended to provide peace of mind, but similar labels often have conflicting criteria for certification. Ironically, this sometimes confuses purchasers, triggering skepticism and ultimately causing them to choose familiar brands over more energy efficient alternatives.

While there are no national standards for green or sustainable product testing, purchasers can still make more informed choices by learning how certification labels are created and awarded.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established three categories for voluntary certification and labeling programs:

First party. This is self-certification. It is somewhat dubious because its standards are not clearly defined. Moreover, it comes directly from the manufacturer rather than an independent, outside source.

Second party. This is more credible than first party certification because it relies on outside standard-setting organizations to verify performance claims. Second parties, however, are not independent. They typically have a business relationship with the first party, creating a potential conflict of interest. Additionally, the criteria for determining whether a product is “green” are not always standardized.

Third party. This is the most trustworthy and reliable form of product certification. Third parties are truly independent because they have no business or monetary relationship with product manufacturers. This makes their test results purely objective and unbiased. Third parties also publish clearly-defined standards.

Furthermore, third parties are transparent. Their product testing standards are created by manufacturers in public forums using a consensus-based process.

Finally, third parties are the most nurturing of innovation. Their unbiased test results educate purchasers, making them more discerning. This in turn encourages manufacturers to compete by implementing new ideas and technologies that improve energy efficiency while protecting our health, safety, and the environment.

Learn more at NFRC's consumer Website.

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University of Texas Researchers Seek More Energy Efficient Windows

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Monday, July 27, 2015

The University of Texas at Austin is developing technology for creating smart windows that increases energy efficiency and improves comfort by empowering building occupants to interact more directly with their indoor environment.

Using newly created materials, building occupants can apply small amounts of voltage that allow windows to transmit light without transferring heat or to block light while allowing heat transmission.

Such developments are important for the fenestration product industry.

The bulk of our energy consumption comes from seeking the balance among comfort energy efficiency and good indoor air quality.

Encouraging more interaction between occupants and the built environment helps them better understand how their actions affect their surroundings and their utility bills.

In the future, the highest-performing buildings may not be those that initially exceed code. Instead they may be the ones that provide an engaging environment where occupants share responsibility for managing energy consumption.

In fact making buildings perform better depends on educated and committed occupants who proactively interact directly with the buildings they inhabit.

Contact Tom Herron, NFRC’s Director, Communications and Marketing for more information about understanding fenestration product energy performance.

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NFRC Announces CEO Exit

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Thursday, July 02, 2015

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) Board of Directors has announced that Jim Benney, formerly NFRC Chief Executive Officer, has left the organization.

The Board is grateful for Jim’s 16 years of service to NFRC and wishes him well in his future endeavors.

Deb Callahan will serve as interim CEO in addition to her duties as COO while the Board conducts a search for Jim’s replacement. Deb has been with NFRC since 2005, originally serving as Deputy Executive Director before assuming her current role as Chief Operating Officer in 2010.

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DOE Says 2015 IECC Saves More Energy Than 2012 Version

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Monday, June 15, 2015

According to the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) would improve energy efficiency in buildings by about 0.87 percent compared to the 2012 version.

Each State is required to certify it has reviewed the provisions of its residential building code regarding energy efficiency and made a determination as to whether to update its code to meet or exceed the 2015 IECC.

Details, including information impacting the fenestration industry, are available here.

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What is a Passive Building?

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Friday, June 05, 2015
NFRC gets many questions from people who want to exactly what the term "passive" means when referring to buildings.

Passive buildings are built so air-tight they require little or no energy for heating or cooling, and understanding the NFRC label can help you understand how windows, doors, and skylights contribute to thermal performance.

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