Volume 9, Issue 2 - February 2008

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the rate debate

International Update
Supporting International Energy Performance Ratings
by Jim Benney

As the world increasingly turns its attention to global warming, many countries are working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels. Energy-efficient fenestration products are an important part of those energy-saving efforts, as sustainable and high-performance buildings become more common worldwide. As a result, determining and certifying that fenestration products actually perform as claimed is becoming more important in more countries than ever before. In the United States, my group, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), administers a well-established, independent rating and labeling system and has taken the lead in supporting efforts in other countries to establish similar systems.

International activities aren’t new to NFRC. The National Energy Policy Act of 1992 directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to monitor and support NFRC’s activities, including harmonizing its fenestration rating and certification program internationally.

International Activities Now a Strategic Goal
Most recently, the NFRC Board of Directors approved new strategic goals for the organization and included maintaining a long-term global focus on the list. The board took this action because of the many potential benefits associated with NFRC’s international activities. They include the fact that:

  • Although rating organizations in many other nations, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and some European countries, use THERM and WINDOW modeling, different environmental conditions and product model sizes can lead to confusion for U.S. manufacturers and must be addressed;
  • U.S. companies seeking to enter overseas markets will have an easier time if rating systems in other countries work well and are harmonized with U.S. standards to the extent possible;
  • A uniform institutional framework for testing, rating and labeling fenestration will help countries better integrate their efforts and share more information; and 
  • Less duplication of fenestration rating procedures and programs will result in lower costs.

Assisting Other Countries with Energy Efforts
International partnerships and bilateral agreements are two important tools that NFRC uses to coordinate technical and certification work with other nations. Through these arrangements, NFRC is helping other countries establish the infrastructure needed to support rating programs by conducting computer simulation training workshops, setting up testing facilities and helping develop standards and program documents. Some of NFRC’s most recent activities include:

  • Australia became the first nation to join NFRC in early 2007. That nation’s fenestration industry came together to create the Australian Fenestration Rating Council. Australia is now fully compliant with NFRC technical procedures.
  • South Africa is set to become the second international member of NFRC, now that it has signed a license agreement and adopted NFRC technical procedures for rating and labeling fenestration products.
  • In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has adopted several NFRC procedures for use in complying with their energy codes and Kuwait is considering adopting NFRC’s program as well. NFRC is working with Kuwait, as well as the United Arab Emirates, to become an international licensee. 
  • In India, NFRC is working with the International Resources Group to help establish an energy unit at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology. The work is being conducted under the Energy Conservation and Commercialization Project-Phase III, a USAID project that will help India implement energy codes. An energy unit will lay the foundation to support fenestration codes in that country.
  • Elsewhere in Asia, Bipin Shah, NFRC’s international coordinator, met with Chinese officials this past May to discuss developing energy saving standards for windows. Later in the year, NFRC, DOE and the International Window Film Association participated in the Fenestration China forum in Shanghai. It was the first time the United States had a pavilion at the international event and it offered an opportunity for the two nations to share information. Several U.S. fenestration manufacturers were presenters at the conference. NFRC distributed fact sheets, translated into Chinese, and displayed the Low-E Saving Kit and the Low-E Detector. Shah also presented a session on rating and labeling as it relates to energy code compliance. This venue provided an opportunity for NFRC and DOE to present advanced design and research concepts to China’s domestic fenestration manufacturers to help them better understand energy-saving products.
  • Back home, NFRC participated in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate’s 4th Buildings and Appliances Task Force Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., in November.

These international activities are designed to benefit both NFRC and other countries. In 2008, NFRC will continue its global outreach. It is an exciting time in the fenestration industry, and we encourage businesses and industry organizations to participate in these efforts.

Jim Benney is executive director of the National Fenestration Rating Council. You may e-mail him at jbenney@nfrc.org. Mr. Benney’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.


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