Monday, November 16, 2009

Mathis on “The Past as Precedent”

Chris Mathis, NFRC’s first administrator and a long-time member and participant in the organization, took attendees at the Fall Membership Meeting on a walk down memory lane Monday afternoon – and then used that perspective to peer into the future.

Speaking at the Opening Session, Mathis described the cycle of “crisis-codes-regulation” that began with a fight over the right way to rate insulation in the 1970s and led to the formation of NFRC to provide fair, accurate, and credible fenestration energy performance ratings.

According to Mathis, NFRC has been a tremendous success. It has allowed the industry to fend off federal regulation of its products’ energy performance, and NFRC has been instrumental in the establishment and success of the ENERGY STAR Windows Program “because it showed what the industry could do.”

NFRC: "More Important" Over Next 20 Years
If anything, Mathis said that he believes NFRC will only become more important as rising demand for electricity leads to stronger efforts to improve energy efficiency. This will lead policymakers to pay more attention to the nation’s existing building stock, he said, which dwarfs new construction but incorporate old, outdated technologies – particularly when it comes to the building envelope.

“People like new buildings because they’re easy – but the 800-pound gorillas are the existing homes,” Mathis said. “We build between one and two million new homes every year, but there are 100 million existing homes – that’s where we have to go to ‘fix’ things.” Ratings like those provided by NFRC will be essential to success, he said.

While Mathis sees several short-term issues that NFRC should address - such as whether the organization can provide ratings with a margin of error better than the accepted “+/- 10 percent” and working with the industry to find ways to rate and label gas-filled products accurately - he is ultimately optimistic about NFRC’s long-term future.
He specifically encouraged members to continue to develop smarter, simpler, and more cost-effective procedures; develop ratings procedures for more products (plastics, fritts, etc.); and invest more in QA/QC.

“I’m not really concerned about where NFRC will be in 20 years,” he said.

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