Volume 41, Issue 11 - November 2006

FromtheFabricator

Final Words
Speaking about a Sensitive Subject One More Time
by Max Perilstein

This is it, folks. I promise, this is the last time I will write about the NFRC. Why? Because it’s an issue that I care so much about that it has overtaken my life, but now, I give up. No more. This, I promise, will be the last time I write about that organization. 

And Why?
I am giving up because there is no way we, as the commercial glazing industry, can win or make a difference. I am giving up because the deck is so stacked against our industry that it is simply an impossible arrangement. I am giving up because people and companies that should’ve stepped up did not and the folks who did were outflanked on all sides. I am giving up because a seemingly majority of our industry doesn’t care that this group will do whatever it pleases, because they “are not affected” yet. I am giving up because every time a piece is written that shows the public what the NFRC is up to, the NFRC and its powerful public relations firm are able to get the last word and, of course, their version is what sticks. I am giving up because the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is beholden to the NFRC, connected enough that the NFRC will not listen to them and the DOE will not push them to do what’s even remotely right by our industry. And lastly, I am giving up because an organization like the International Code Council through its International Energy Conservation Code committee allowed two committee members, who also happen to be NFRC board members, to vote on major issues that concerned competition to the NFRC. This most blatant conflict of interest was the final straw. 

Us vs. Them
It sounds like sour grapes and, quite frankly, it is. I am sick to my stomach that we, as an industry, have been unable to mount a major concern. The NFRC has lawyers, public relations people, a new high-powered public relations firm and tons of money. Our side has none of that. And no matter how the NFRC will spin this, the upcoming commercial program will not be anything good for our industry. 

So Here Goes …
The NFRC board structure continues to be a joke. Too many members make money off of the NFRC to care about doing the right thing by the public. Example? The best one is at the top. Marcia Falke is the chairperson of the NFRC and also the owner of Keystone Certifications. According to her election bio in 2005, 72 percent of her income comes from NFRC-related activities. So, when they [board members] say that they take an “oath” to do what’s in the best interests of the NFRC, of course they do! She has 72 percent of her income at stake in the “best interests” of the NFRC. What would you do? Marcia is not the exception on the board and its ex-officios; she’s the rule. 

And, how about the test labs? You have major testing laboratories that, for their $400-a-year fee, get carte blanche at NFRC. They force themselves into the process, force the public to pay for unnecessary and unneeded testing and help make the rules to which the public must adhere—all while they profit. They pay $400 while companies like ours must pay more than $12,000 for the same membership.

It all comes down to the fact that, as a manufacturer, fabricator or glazier, making and installing glass is what we do. It is where we make our living. The NFRC and the folks who control it make their living creating rules and police actions off which they can make money, simply controlling an industry that has done nothing to deserve such treatment. They are doing so with no mandate from Congress (as they led the Glass Association of North America to believe in a 2005 letter from Marvin Stover, a past chairperson), no demand from architects, no demand from developers (confirmed by the Building Owners and Managers Association) and no demand from the public at large. 

This is not residential building. Our industry has policing; they are called contracts and specifications. We have remedies for not following what the architect wants; it’s called the legal system. But the NFRC is doing it anyway and will do it with the blessing from the DOE, despite the obvious lack of need. 

I can go on and on, but I am done. In a few years after the NFRC has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and when people are crying about all of the extra fees that they now have to pay to get their jobs tested, inspected and validated, I’ll be sadly sitting back and watching. It’s a shame. 

USG
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