The Rate Debate
Staying Current and Credible
by Susan Douglas
Credibility is the National Fenestration Rating Councils (NFRC) currency. Without it, our reputation as the only independent, unbiased source of fenestration energy-performance information would be damaged permanently. So, we invest a great deal in programs and policies designed to maintain and, where possible, enhance the technical integrity of our rating and labeling system.
Built into that system is a policy of updating our technical and certification procedures and the corresponding program documents regularlyevery three years ideally. Like the rest of the industry, we are scrambling to keep up with the incredible pace of new technological innovations and the latest research results. We have to make sure that our system stays current.
Expect Updated Procedures Soon
The manufacturers who participate in our system, as well as the architects, builders, code officials, consumers, contractors and others who use the information it generates, can expect updates to all of our existing rating and certification procedures within the next two years. As our Millennial Strategic Plan stipulates, our members are hard at work on updates to NFRC 100 (U-Factor), NFRC 200 (solar heat gain coefficientSHGC), NFRC 300 (optical properties) and NFRC 400 (air leakage).
NFRC 100 (U-Factor)
Currently, the technical procedures for NFRC 100 are divided among three documents: the original NFRC 100, which covers windows and skylights; NFRC 100-B, which covers doors; and NFRC 100-C, which covers site-built products in commercial applications. By September 2001, we plan to combine these three rating procedures into a single document. We also intend to streamline the overall process by moving to a single size, rather than the residential and non-residential sizes that manufacturers are now required to submit for rating and certification.
NFRC 200 (SHGC)
Under NFRCs existing procedure, manufacturers can obtain SHGC ratings by either testing and rating the actual product or by using NFRC-derived specialty products tables. Next year, we intend to eliminate the second option with a single rating procedure that calls for actual testing and rating. We are now working to develop a test procedure for those products that cannot be rated for SHGC currently.
NFRC 300 (Optical Properties)
In an attempt to make the NFRC 300 rating more informative, we are working on an addition to the procedure that will provide manufacturers with the ability to determine ultraviolet transmission. We hope to have the technical procedure in place by the end of this year, and the certification procedure complete by the end of 2002. In the meantime, the existing NFRC 300 will remain available to manufacturers.
NFRC 400 (Air Leakage)
Currently manufacturers cannot rate air leakage. I include it here because NFRC has had a technical procedure for determining an air leakage rating since 1995; however, none of NFRCs testing laboratories were accredited to perform the tests. Several laboratories are now working toward accreditation, and we expect to make the air leakage rating available early next year. In the meantime, we are reviewing the existing air leakage rating procedure and plan to revise it by 2002.
New Ratings Are in the Works
In addition to updating these ratings, NFRC is also working on a host of new ratings. These include a condensation index, which should be available to manufacturers within the next two years, and several others on a longer timeline: long-term energy performance (or durability), annual energy performance, comfort and daylighting.
As anyone in the fenestration business can tell you, the industry is changing so quickly that its easy to get left behind. Weve found that constant review of our programs, policies and documents helps to keep us currentand credible.
Susan Douglas serves as administrator of the National Fenestration Rating Council, based in Silver Spring, Md.
© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.