Monday, November 9, 2009

Rating Only the Center of Glass has Drawbacks

Glazed framing systems have improved over the years and left metal-framed, single-paned windows obsolete.

Dual glazed insulating units, low-emissivity coating, and thermally improve frames now provide significant energy savings.

Industry professionals didn’t pay much attention to the energy performance of glazed framing systems until recently. For many years, most of the U.S. was satisfied with using the Center of Glass U-factor for determining the energy-performance calculations of buildings.

The framing around the glazing, however, can be one of the biggest contributors to a system’s energy performance. An insulating glazing unit with a U-value of 0.29 glazed into a poorly performing framing system can result in an overall U-value of 0.60.

Therefore, an energy calculation done for a building using only the Center of Glass U-factor does not produce an honest or realistic result.

This is where the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) comes in.


Executive Director, Jim Benney Speaks out on NFRC and Energy Star® Windows

NFRC, its members and program participants were justifiable surprised by the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

NFRC has had a strong, long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with DOE. This relationship goes all the way back to NFRC founding (funding NFRC) to very successful Energy Star® Windows Program.

The recent meeting between EPA, DOE and Energy Star® program participants was intended to shed light upon the aforementioned MOE; especially with regard to the impact on the fenestration industry. A few significant ideas, issues and overarching goals were expressed at the meeting, including:
  • That the current administration recognizes the impact of building (and building envelope) performance on the energy security of the United States.
  • That the MOU is a commitment between DOE and EPA to help the Energy Star® Program “jump forward.” It is expected to expedite the process and provide more program transparency.
  • That the Energy Star® Program will be viewed as one program; with one budget and one management plan.
  • That Building Energy Star® Programs and Building Labeling Programs will be managed and supported by DOE. Products (including fenestration) will be managed by EPA and supported by DOE.
  • That the proposed “SuperStar” program will be dedicated to top tier products (5% of the market).
  • To inform the stakeholders that the “Governing Body” described in the MOU consists of Kathy Zoi (DOE Assistant Secretary) and Gina McCarthy (EPA Assistant Administrator).
  • To re-assure partners that “if a current process is in place; it is the process that will be used in the future; they do not intend to re-invent the wheel.

This last item should re-assure our members and participants that NFRC standards will remain as the yardstick to be used in evaluating product performance; and that the NFRC Product Certification Program will remain as the recognized third party verification program.

Please note that NFRC has taken steps to develop and grow this new and important relationship with EPA.

If there are any questions regarding this development, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Jim Benney, CAE
NFRC Executive Director