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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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