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FenStar Certification Program - Frequently Asked Questions
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FenStar Certification Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General

IVP

ISO/IEC 17065 and ENERGY STAR

VPAG and VPC 

Staff


General

What is the FenStar Certification Program?

The FenStar℠ Certification Program is NFRC’s program for ENERGY STAR® product certification. NFRC will be a fully accredited certification body for the ENERGY STAR window, door, and skylight program.

Why is NFRC doing this?

NFRC is developing this accredited certification program to reduce risk, enhance its certification offerings, to be more competitive in the marketplace, and to meet the ENERGY STAR certification body accreditation requirements. The ENERGY STAR program requires that Certification Bodies (CB) meet the ISO/IEC 17065 standard. This will allow NFRC to fully meet the ENERGY STAR program certification body requirements.

Will there be new fees associated with FenStar Certification Program?

NFRC has committed to establishing this program and bringing all ENERGY STAR partners’ products to full certification status at no initial cost to the manufacturer. While it cannot be guaranteed that fees will never increase to support the more robust certification program in the future, NFRC is committed to no IVP/FenStar fee increases until at least 2019.

Current ENERGY STAR partners will receive the full evaluation, review, and entry to the database at no additional charge (annual IVP fees are still in place) – for product lines that they wish to remain in the ENERGY STAR program. This review process will be a requirement for ENERGY STAR certification.

Annual fees for participation in this expanded program will remain the same as the current IVP structure until at least 2019. Full evaluation of the program after launch will allow NFRC staff and Board of Directors to make an informed assessment of the enhanced program’s costs from both the manufacturer’s perspective as well as NFRC and other allied organizations (such as labs and IAs).

What type of information will need to be submitted by the manufacturer?

ENERGY STAR partners will need to update their product line information in PESI, update the Schedule II, and sign a new NFRC license agreement. In addition, manufacturers will need to provide copies of the installation instructions provided with ENERGY STAR products, air leakage certification information, and a sample of a products line’s ENERGY STAR and NFRC labels for verification. NFRC will be investigating ways to automate this information if possible (such as getting the air leakage data directly from the CPD) to ease the burden on the manufacturer.

Will a new License Agreement need to be signed for the FenStar Certification Program?

A new License Agreement for the FenStar Certification Program has been prepared. The bulletin announcing the new License Agreement may be found HERE.

The direct link to download the License Agreement may be found HERE. Please sign and return to FCP@nfrc.org; a counter-signed copy will be returned from NFRC.

Will any training be provided to licensees?

Yes. Staff will work with each of the Inspection Agencies to host an informative webinar to understand the new program and how to comply.

Staff is also developing manuals for the application and database which will be available on the NFRC website.

How does this affect the NFRC 700 Product Certification Program (PCP) and products listed in the Certified Products Directory (CPD)?

The FenStar Certification Program doesn't affect the PCP or CPD in any way. ENERGY STAR certification has always required the products to be listed in the CPD and that will continue. No changes are being made to the PCP with the introduction f the FenStar Certification Program. 

Will this be extended to commercial products?

No. There are no current plans to certify commercial products for ENERGY STAR.

What do these changes mean for the NFRC community?

The FenStar Certification Program will provide a separate, fully-accredited certification program for ENERGY STAR products and will provide full evaluation and review of ENERGY STAR products, ultimately certifying those products for ENERGY STAR.

What are the benefits to creating this program?

  • By gaining ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation, NFRC will be a fully accredited certification body that meets the ENERGY STAR requirements.  

  •  In addition, this accreditation will establish NFRC as an internationally-recognized certification body, accredited by ANSI to the ISO/IEC 17065 standard. This will increase public confidence in the NFRC and ENERGY STAR labels.

  • The FenStar Certification Program will provide ENERGY STAR-eligible manufacturers with a second certification (in addition to “NFRC PCP Certified”) and will provide greater relevancy in the world market.

  • The FenStar Certification Program will strengthen the relationships NFRC has with key organizations such as the EPA, DOE, and NRCan.

  • ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation helps reduce NFRC’s organizational risk worldwide by having an outside organization (ANSI) review and confirm that our structure and processes to conform with widely accepted international standards.

When is the public review of the FenStar Certification Program?

The public review of FenStar Certification Program documents has concluded, If you missed this review, please make sure that all contact information is up-to-date to avoid missing any communications.

What do the documents under public review cover?

The FS-1001 and FS-1100 documents under public review are how NFRC will operate as the certification body. Since the EPA provides the rules for the program in the certification scheme, NFRC procedures were developed to ensure products meet those rules.

How will license agreements and documents be provided?

ENERGY STAR Partners will receive the information directly by email. NFRC staff are also looking for other methods for communicating program information for efficiency.

Is there a timeline for program launch?

The proposed timeline for launch of the FenStar Certification Program is as follows:

October 2017

Document Public Review -- CONCLUDED

November 2017

Distribution of FenStar Certification Program Documents

License Agreements

 

Information Webinars

January 2018

FenStar Certification Program Pilot Program Launch

First Quarter 2018

NFRC ANSI Audit Scheduled

Mid-to-Late 2018

ANSI Accredited FenStar Certification Program and Online Search Officially Launches Following Successful Audit

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IVP

What does this mean for the IVP?

NFRC is fulfilling a commitment that was made to the EPA back when NFRC developed the Independent Verification Program (IVP) for the fenestration industry. Accredited certification was always the goal for NFRC; the early adoption of the IVP was an initial effort to help the industry develop the verification portion of the ENERGY STAR requirements. The final phase of this process is the expansion to an accredited certification program and for IVP to be incorporated into the broader certification program.

Upon implementation of the pilot program, the “IVP” will no longer be an operating program but will become the verification procedure within the FenStar Certification Program. The change should be seamless to the IVP participant.

Does this mean that the ENERGY STAR verification testing percentage will change?

No. The ENERGY STAR surveillance (verification testing) requirement of 5% and there is no indication that the EPA will modify the percentage.

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ISO/IEC 17065 and ENERGY STAR

What is the difference between a Certification Scheme and a Certification Body?

Certification Scheme: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the certification scheme owner of the ENERGY STAR program. It is the EPA that sets the qualification criteria for ENERGY STAR certification. ENERGY STAR also requires that the certifying body for products be ISO/IEC 17065 accredited.

Certification Body: NFRC’s FenStar Certification Program is the certification body for the ENERGY STAR windows, doors, and skylights program and will be seeking ISO/IEC accreditation in accordance with the certification scheme requirements. NFRC does not and cannot determine the ENERGY STAR qualifying criteria.

How are the current ENERGY STAR product lines going to be certified?

The FenStar Certification Program will be launched in January as a pilot program. The goal is to use the pilot program to certify the existing product lines, and to modify the program where necessary to create a good user experience.

NFRC is taking a staged approach with the pilot program. In the first stage, staff will be working with a few participants to certify their current ENERGY STAR product lines. The participants chosen to support the pilot program will be responsible for providing feedback on the processes.

After the first stage is completed, the next stage will ramp up the number of product lines and work with more participants.

The program will include more participants as the pilot program continues, in the meantime any necessary modifications will be made to ensure the program is operating effectively and efficiently.

How does this affect ENERGY STAR in Canada?

The FenStar Certification Program is a requirement for the U.S. version of ENERGY STAR. It does not affect Canadian products unless those products are sold in the U.S. as part of the U.S. ENERGY STAR program.

Will the new FenStar Certification Program license agreements supersede any commitments to the EPA?

No. The ENERGY STAR Partner agreement is still intact and is between the Partner and the EPA. The FenStar Certification Program license agreement does not supersede any of the EPA requirements.

What is changing?

NFRC is developing a new process to fully document and manage the ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation. This includes:

  • Updating internal documents to support this new, accredited certification program;
  • Verification of air leakage certification and instructions requirements at the time of certification (and not just during surveillance/verification testing);
  • Restructuring of certification and verification committees into advisory groups to safeguard impartiality and increase transparency;
  • The IVP program will be renamed and absorbed into the FenStar Certification Program; and
  •  New NFRC license agreements.

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VPAG and VPC 

What is the VPAG? 

VPAG is the Verification Policy Advisory Group. This policy group has been restructured from the Verification Policy Committee (VPC) to satisfy requirements from the certification scheme for ISO/IEC 17065. 

 

How is the VPAG different from the VPC? 

The VPC was the governing committee over the Independent Verification Program (IVP). The VPAG will not govern the FenStar Certification Program but will provide input and advice to staff on appeals and program documentation. 

 

Why was the VPC changed to the VPAG? 

The ISO/IEC 17065 standard has requirements for impartiality regarding the certification body activities. The EPA also has requirements for impartiality. The requirements mean participants in the certification program can’t be responsible for how the certification body operates. 

 

What are the responsibilities of the VPAG? 

The VPAG will provide input on the following: impartiality policy and issues, surveillance testing appeals, program administration appeals and complaints as requested by staff, program document revisions as requested by staff, and other issues as requested by staff. While the VPAG input will be considered, staff will have the final say on all decisions regarding certification activities and operations. 

 

Why aren’t other committees being changed? 

The other standing committees have authorization over documents and programs that are part of the NFRC 700 PCP. That program is not being affected at all by the FenStar Certification Program.

 

If the VPAG doesn’t have oversight of the program, who does?

The FenStar Certification Quality Manual gives ultimate oversight of the program to the NFRC Board of Directors. The Board will approve the program documents including the Quality Manual (FS-1000), the NFRC FenStar Certification Program document (FS-1001), and the FenStar Certification Program Verification Testing Procedure (FS-1100). Any material changes to those documents must be approved by the Board. In addition, the Board will be given annual reports on the program, including any internal audits of our processes and any external audits by our accreditation body.

 

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Staff

I have a question not answered here, who should I call?

NFRC staff are available to answer questions at any time and general questions may be submitted to FCP@nfrc.org. Staff dedicated to the FenStar Certification Program are:

Name

Title

Contact

Dan Womer

IVP Coordinator

dwomer@nfrc.org

240-821-9510

Michelle Scism

Quality and Compliance Manager

mscism@nfrc.org

240-821-9511

Steve Urich

Senior Manager, Programs

surich@nfrc.org

240-821-9514

Scott Hanlon

Director, Program Operations

shanlon@nfrc.org

240-821-9519

 

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