Volume 14, Issue 1- January/February 2010

feature

Step by Step
NFRC-Certified Window Film Ratings Inspire Pursuit of Ratings for Other Products
By John Lewis

Since its founding in 1989, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has expanded its independent rating and certification system to include residential and commercial applications as well as glazing products. The latest expansion occurred a few years ago when the group began providing window film manufacturers with a rating and certification procedure for the energy performance of their products. These ratings offer the industry independent, third-party verification of window film products’ energy performance, and consumers benefit from a credible, apples-to-apples comparison of rated products.

The label is applied to the box in which the film product is packaged. This allows dealers to show their customers the performance values easily, and because it’s a standardized rating system, they can communicate differences among the window film products they offer.

According to Fred Zwilling, director of training for Johnson Window Films, NFRC certification provided his company with an accurate way to have their products rated for energy performance.
“An installer can rate different manufacturer’s film products side-by-side to help them when making their product selection,” Zwilling says. “Manufactures have a fair and level playing field to compare products and an accurate method of showing their energy benefits.”

Something for Everyone
These energy performance ratings also benefit window film installers. By showing the label on the box to their customer, whether it’s a building owner or homeowner, the installer can demonstrate that the product meets the specified energy performance requirements. It’s also an easy way to communicate the advantages of using a window film product over not using it.

To earn NFRC certification a participating window film manufacturer must follow a process spelled out in NFRC’s certification documents. After an NFRC-licensed certification and inspection agency (IA) determines that certification requirements have been met, it generates a Certification Authorization Report (CAR). The film manufacturer can then place the CAR’s performance ratings values on the NFRC label to certify its product

Lisa Winckler, director of product development and technology for Solutia Inc., explained that window film manufacturers turned to the NFRC “to have our products rated, so we could label them to give consumers concise, clear and accurate performance numbers they can use.”

Window film products with NFRC ratings have been on the market for some time now, and the ratings appear on the special oval energy performance label designed just for attachment products.

Further Progress
At our Fall Membership Meeting, which took place in November, the board of directors approved the NFRC 100 Applied Film ballot, which adds the U-Factor energy performance rating for interior applied films. The board also approved a change to the attachment label based on the NFRC 700 Applied Films ballot. The board included an amendment to add the “without film” performance rating values to each of the performance rating columns, expanding the number of columns on the label to six in total.

In the long run, NFRC ratings for window films may help move the industry one step closer to achieving the goal of Energy Star®-labeled products. If that happens, it will provide a significant marketing advantage to those products that earn the Energy Star label.

Kathryn Giblin, vice president, global marketing for Bekaert Specialty Films LLC, adds that the path leading to window films gaining NFRC certification was a hard fought battle.

“Now that it is included, we have to protect that privilege,” she says. “This is incredibly important in promoting window film as a legitimate energy saving product and … manufacturers, dealers and distributors [must] continue to educate themselves and consumers.”

Following Film Manufacturers’ Lead
The success of the window film rating and certification procedure inspired manufacturers of awnings, blinds and shades to pursue development of NFRC ratings for their products, too.

After the attachments industry approached NFRC about developing non-film attachment ratings – in lieu of forming its own independent energy rating organization – the NFRC thoroughly debated and considered the request. Keeping in mind its mission to serve the public by providing independent energy performance ratings, the NFRC has taken several actions, including:
• Issuing guidelines that non-film attachments manufacturers can follow as they seek rating and certification procedures;

• Establishing attachment subcommittees and task groups; and

• Selecting a firm to conduct an Awnings Rating Feasibility Research project to determine if fair, accurate rating and labeling procedures can be developed for exterior awnings.

At this time, NFRC has not approved any non-film attachment product ratings. Perhaps that industry needs to resolve what type of reference products will be used. Once such issues are resolved, NFRC will consider each attachment product rating procedure proposed on a case-by-case basis.

 

John Lewis is NFRC’s senior manager, business development and outreach. E-mail him at jlewis@nfrc.org.



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