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Low-E Glass Lowers Utility Bills

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, July 09, 2014

When the summer sun penetrates your windows, temperatures rise and so do utility bills. Choosing windows with low-E glass, however, reduces the cost of staying cool.

In hot climates, homeowners and building occupants need to know all their options for keeping cool air inside and hot air outside.

One option is installing windows with low-E (low-emissivity) glass. Emissivity describes how a window radiates the heat it absorbs and is one of the main ways heat is transferred.

Low-E glass can filter 40 to 70 percent of the heat that is normally transmitted through standard window glass. It works by reflecting heat back to its source.

Glazed with an ultra-thin metallic coating – thinner than a human hair – low-E glass filters out the infrared (heat) portion of the light spectrum while allowing the full amount of visible light to pass through. This spectrally-selective filtering reduces solar heat gain, decreasing the need for air conditioning and also reduces dependence on artificial lighting. Additionally, low-E glass filters out harmful ultraviolet rays, preventing fading to your carpet, furniture, and other valuables.

Think of low-E glass as you would a thermos. When cold liquid is stored inside, its silver lining repels heat from the outside. This constant reflection maintains the internal temperature. Additionally, the air space between the silver lining and the exterior of the thermos contributes to the insulating value of the lining – similar to an insulating glass unit.

Heat transfer in multi-layer glazing occurs through thermal radiation from a warm pane of glass to a cooler pane. When low-E glass faces the gap between the glass layers, it blocks a large portion of this radiant heat transfer, lowering total heat flow through the window.

When heat reduction is a priority, so the low-E coating should be on the number two surface. This is the inside-facing surface of the outside pane.

While windows with low-E glass generally cost 10 to 15 percent more than windows with standard glass, they can increase energy efficiency by 30 to 50 percent.  

Low-E coatings are usually applied during manufacturing, but there are also low-E window films available for do-it-yourselfers. These films are more economical alternative than replacing windows and will last for 10 to 15 years.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 30 percent of the energy wasted in commercial buildings and 40 percent of the energy required for cooling homes can be attributed to inefficient windows.

Although opting for windows with low-E glass represents a greater initial investment, its many benefits pay you back over time. What’s more, improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings helps boost the economy, improves health, and protects the environment.

Contact Tom Herron at 240-821-9505 to learn more about the important role windows, doors, and skylights play in making homes and buildings more comfortable and energy efficient.

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Integrating Windows Maximizes Synergy

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

High-performance windows are an essential component in sustainable residential buildings. Maximizing their contribution, however, requires integrating them into the whole-building concept.

While this may appear obvious, it is often challenging to consider windows holistically despite their invaluable contribution to sustainability through enhanced synergy. Design teams that work independently rather than collaboratively, for instance, may inadvertently create problems instead of solving them. A ventilation system that uses windows improperly, for instance, can adversely influence indoor air quality by allowing outside contaminants inside. 

Overcoming this challenge requires keeping in mind that every residential building depends on a series of complex, interrelated systems to operate efficiently. Achieving sustainability, of course, requires integrating these systems and their subsystems.

By including windows in this process, design teams can minimize operating costs while creating a healthy indoor environment that keeps occupants satisfied. 

Contact Tom Herron at 240-821-9505 to learn more about the important role windows play in making homes and buildings more comfortable and energy efficient.

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Do You Have an Immediate Need To Show Commercial Fenestration Code Compliance?

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Friday, June 06, 2014
If you're currently involved with a commercial project and need to show that the windows meet energy performance codes, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) can help.

Here's an overview of our commercial ratings program.

Contact Ray McGowan at 240-821-9510 to learn more.

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New Whiteboard Highlights Ease of NFRC's Commercial Ratings Program

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) new whiteboard helps design professionals see how easy it is to meet fenestration energy code compliance on commercial projects.

Contact NFRC’s Senior Program Manager, Ray McGowan, at 240-821-9510 to use our commercial ratings program for your project.

View the video

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Nelson Peña Presented with 2014 NFRC Service

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Thursday, May 08, 2014

On April 23, NFRC’s CEO, Jim Benney, recognized Nelson Peña’s contribution to the board of directors by presenting him with 2014 Service Award.  

Nelson recently concluded six years on the board and was the technical lead on windows for the Energy Commission for the 2005, 2008, and 2013 Energy Efficiency Standards.  

Nelson has been the representative for the Energy Commission at the NFRC Membership meetings for the last 13 years and has been a key component in serving the interests of Californians and the California window industry.

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Above and Beyond: Windows Exceeding Energy Performance Codes Bring Host of Benefits

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Monday, April 28, 2014

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the amount of energy lost through windows represents four to five percent of total U.S. energy consumption at an annual cost of $50 billion. Yet fewer than 30 percent of commercial buildings use high-performance windows, doors, and skylights – otherwise known as fenestration.

One way building owners can save energy, facilitate sustainability, and maximize their return on investment is by requiring these products to exceed energy performance codes.  

Many people assume using more windows increases the potential for energy loss. In reality, however, the right windows actually enhance overall building performance. The judicious use of fenestration reduces energy consumption by decreasing HVAC and lighting loads while allowing natural ventilation. Furthermore, buildings with above-energy-code fenestration command higher resale value, minimize environmental impact, and improve an organization’s reputation.

High-performance fenestration also offers many other benefits. For example, multiple studies reveal that adequate daylighting improves productivity in businesses, increases sales in retail stores, facilitates learning in schools, and promotes faster healing in hospitals.

Another important -- although somewhat lesser known -- advantage of high-performance fenestration is that it helps reduce peak loads on the energy grid, decreasing stress and increasing reliability.

Exceeding Code: Good for Owners, Good for Tenants

While fenestration energy-performance codes are evolving to improve minimum standards, surpassing these standards protects owners and tenants from the unforeseen financial consequences arising from short-sighted design or construction decisions. Demanding windows, doors, and skylights that exceed energy performance codes also encourages the fenestration industry to develop products that are more efficient and to create innovative design strategies.

Moreover, building owners who demand above-energy-code fenestration demonstrate their commitment to green construction and sustainability. By sharing these energy performance ratings, owners are enabling their clients to make educated, informed decisions when buying, renting, or leasing a building. By helping their tenants minimize utility bills, owners are also helping themselves by staving off the potentially high cost of future retrofits.

Financial Advantages to Building Owners

Buildings consume about 70 percent of the electricity in the U.S. This makes it more important than ever for owners to insist on above-code energy performance from their windows, doors, and skylights. While sometimes overlooked, analyzing the value of high-performance fenestration during the integrated design process is a practical strategy that can maximize return on investment and help make our buildings greener, cleaner, and more sustainable.

Perhaps most compelling of all, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that building energy codes will produce a financial benefit to owners of nearly $2 billion annually by 2015, increasing to over $15 billion annually by 2030.

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Occupant Behavior Affects Window Performance, Overall Efficiency

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, April 09, 2014

High-performance windows, doors, and skylights can make our homes and buildings more comfortable and energy efficient, but maximizing their contribution depends on occupant behavior.

It’s easy to overlook the role people play in contributing to green building and sustainability. When we think about high-performance structures, we often focus on design, construction, and technology. With Americans spending 90 percent of their time indoors, however, the way people interact with these structures is also important for improving overall building performance.

In hot sunny climates, for instance, actions that reduce energy consumption yet sacrifice comfort are unlikely to achieve their intended results. This is because occupants generally act to override their discomfort. For example, they may draw the curtains across high-performance windows on a sunny day and turn on the lights to avoid glare.

Considering the building’s orientation during the integrated design process, however, can lead to better solutions. Planting deciduous trees or shrubs near windows and installing canopies or awnings are two good ways to harvest (free) daylight while controlling solar heat gain and glare.

Similarly, installing windows with Low-e coating can improve occupant comfort and energy efficiency. These are ideal for heat-dominated climates because they preserve visible transmittance. They also reduce solar heat gain and glare. If you need a solution for an existing home or building, window films are a good option.

Another example of building occupants acting to override their discomfort occurs during the winter. People sometimes raise the thermostat and open multiple windows so they can enjoy fresh air without getting cold.

A more effective solution is installing operable windows, which allow natural ventilation and prevent Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from accumulating. Operable windows also provide an important psychological benefit – the feeling of control over one’s environment.

The bulk of our energy consumption comes from seeking the balance among comfort, energy efficiency, and good indoor air quality. E
ncouraging 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. While ever-expanding technology will continue providing new ideas, tools, and equipment for making improvements, our actions are what ultimately get the job done.

As Kathryn Janda of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University said in her
paper of the same title, “Buildings don’t use energy – people do.”

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NFRC announces call for films to students across U.S. and Canada

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Tuesday, April 01, 2014
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) issued a call for submissions today for the NFRC 25th Anniversary Student Film Contest. The contest is part of a yearlong celebration of NFRC’s quarter-century of service to architects, builders and consumers.


College students in the U.S. and Canada are invited to answer the question, “Why do windows matter?” in a video production lasting no more than five minutes. NFRC will award the top three filmmakers with cash scholarships.


“There’s any number of ways participants can run with this,” said NFRC CEO Jim Benney. “In a way, we’re looking to these students for inspiration through their creativity and imagination. And it’s a great way for NFRC to celebrate its 25th anniversary.”


Entries are due by August 1, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. A panel of NFRC members will view and judge the submissions. The top three entries will be screened at NFRC’s Fall Membership Meeting on Sept. 22 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and posted to NFRC’s website,


“This is an exciting new undertaking for us and will be a great way to engage students in the work we do,” said Jessica Finn, NFRC membership coordinator. “We hope participating students will see their films as an important element in promoting energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.”


Interested students should visit for contest information, rules, and registration.

Contact NFRC's Membership Coordinator, Jessica Finn, at 240-821-9512 with any questions.


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Committee Week Meeting Concludes with Hanlon Citing Success of IVP

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NFRC’s Program Director, Scott Hanlon, spoke about the success of the Independent Verification Program (IVP) during this morning’s open board meeting as the Spring Committee Week Meeting concluded.

Hanlon noted that NFRC has completed 107 studies and has 12 in progress. To date, the program has assisted with replacing 17 units.

NFRC currently plans to test 240 products during 2014.

“There have been no EPA unsuccessful tests and no issues with rating tolerances, only profile variations,” Hanlon said. “The IVP adds value to our programs and helps us better serve the public.”

Under the IVP program, products are tested to determine if their construction, performance, and components are consistent with the way they were originally simulated and tested by authorized for certification.

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NFRC Looks to Fill Volunteer Positions

Posted By Tom Herron, NFRC, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Technical Committee block concluded with a number of calls for volunteers.

NFRC LAP Manager, Dennis Anderson, is seeking those interested in working on condensation resistance ratings.

He is also looking for volunteers to test Window/Therm7 to facilitate its full adoption, alleviating the need for LBNL to support W/T6 and WT7.

Toward the end of the session, NFRC Program Director, Scott Hanlon asked for volunteers for the Residential Component Based Calculation Taskgroup.

Committee Chair, Mike Thoman, concluded the block by pointing out the need to fill the committee’s vice chair position.

Anyone interested in serving in these volunteer positions should contact their NFRC staff liaison.

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