The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) says more commercial manufacturers need to come on board if they want to assure consumers that their products are good for saving energy and lowering costs.

During an hour-long webinar this week called “Meeting Commercial Fenestration Code Compliance,” Ray McGowan, the NFRC’s senior program director, challenged more of the nation’s commercial glass and window manufacturers to register with the Component Modeling Approach (CMA) Product Certification Program that enables whole-product energy performance ratings for commercial (non-residential) projects.

According to McGowan, there are currently more than 50,000 commercial building products on the market, but just 270 are NFRC-certified. The opposite holds true, he says, on the residential side, where more than 6,000 individual components from 30 manufacturers are now certified as meeting NFRC energy standards.

“We need the [commercial] industry to generate more data into the system,” McGowan says. “More and more manufacturers have to participate.”

His message is sure to resonate with building owners and builders alike as costly energy lost through windows represents “four to five percent of total U.S. energy consumption at a cost of $50 billion,” according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“So it’s really important the windows perform well,” McGowan says, stressing not only that such verification is sound business, but also the law in many cases. Compliance with the statutes is often mandatory.

“[The rating systems], he says, are “the only way to ensure a building performs at its best and complies with the law.”

McGowan also notes that both CMA and the NFRC Ratings System for residential homes not only cover NFRC 100 and NFRC 200 documents, but also that both systems are very user-friendly and easily accessible.

Each system varies somewhat in the U.S., depending into which of the eight different climate zones a product falls, McGowan says.

CMA is a relatively new program that offers information on fenestration components through an online database and is readily available from anywhere or at any time. The third-party verified system shows how changing one component affects overall energy efficiency and provides information on which components can be combined. The cumulative information, which includes a breakdown of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2007 fenestration energy requirements for commercial construction, is then used to determine a whole-product energy performance rating for a fenestration system.

Designed to help increase awareness among builders, architects, government officials, manufacturers and contractors alike, the system’s three primary components are glazing, frame and spacer.

McGowan remains steadfast in his efforts to continue spreading the word about CMA along the commercial side.

“It’s a new program,” he says, “and we’re generating a lot of interest. We just need more manufacturers to participate.”