Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Night from San Antonio

The first day of the Fall Membership Meeting has drawn to a close, and we'll bid you good night with this image of the banner that greets everyone in the lobby of the Sheraton Gunter Hotel.

Presentation Explores Relationship Between BIM and NFRC

The first day of the NFRC Fall Membership Meeting wrapped up with a presentation on Building Information Modeling (BIM) interoperability, fenestration, and the NFRC process.

“BIM is becoming more common,” explained Charlie Curcija, of CARLI, Inc., “but we need to understand how we can benefit from that.”

At this time, NFRC doesn’t have any BIM–enabled processes, said Curcija. “We are at the beginning,” he said, “we need to define how we want to fit into that system.”

Efforts to create linkages between tools are a good first step, explained Curcija. For example, CMAST reads WINDOW, OPTICS, and THERM new xml files and runs WINDOW and THERM in the background. And, the CMA Software Tool (CMAST) produces EnergyPlus report file and provides it as a part of label certificate, accessible on the Web.

Among the potential linkages between BIM and NFRC: fenestration manufacturers would benefit from the ability to export custom in-house configuration and bidding systems to NFRC rating tools.

Justin Wong, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, joined the presentation via conference call. He noted that you can get a lot of information about a window in BIM. As 3-D object-oriented software, BIM can provide information on location, dimension, materials, performance characteristics, quality, and interrelationships.

Dr. Peter Lyons, of Peter Lyons and Associates, wrapped up the presentation by encouraging attendees to think of BIM as a platform or vehicle for exchanging information.

Curcija then asked the audience to think about how NFRC can start incorporating BIM into its processes and to provide feedback on the matter.

CPC Meeting Postponed Until Tuesday Morning

The Certification Policy Committee will meet at 7:00 Tuesday morning in the Crystal Ballroom.

Sponsor Spotlight: Hunter Douglas

Hunter Douglas is the gold-level sponsor of the NFRC 2009 Fall Membership Meeting. The company, based in Upper Saddle River, N.J., is the leading manufacturer of custom-made window fashions in North America and has been in business for more than 60 years.

Earlier today, NFRC News Now spoke with Mike Cienian, vice president, Quality Assurance, of Hunter Douglas North America, and Tom Marusak, President of Comfortex Window Fashions, a manufacturer and fabricator of window treatment products, owned by the same parent company as Hunter Douglas.

“We’re trying to figure out how to work with the NFRC to produce fair, accurate attachment ratings,” said Cienian. He noted that many other companies in the industry are also interested in achieving this goal, and are joining and participating in the NFRC process.

Marusak said that attachment products can improve energy performance, and they have products tested independently.

Cienian serves as chair of the NFRC Attachment Products Subcommittee, which will meet on Tuesday, during the Technical Committee Block. He says that several key ballots are on the agenda, including those for interior/exterior attachments, applied films, and Dynamic Attachments for Swinging Doors.

He noted that the industry eventually would like to see ENERGY STAR® ratings for its attachment products.

APC Reports on New Labs, Round Robins

NFRC added four new simulation labs in 2009, as well as the first-ever thermal test lab outside North America, according to Dennis Anderson, NFRC’s Laboratory Accreditation Program manager. The new test lab is located in South Africa.

Anderson also reported that he inspected one test lab and eight sim labs in 2009, and is due to conduct two additional inspections before the end of the year. He also told the committee that:

- reports for the 2006 and 2007 sim lab interlaboratory comparison (ILC), as well as a report for the 2008 test lab ILC, are forthcoming;
- the 2009 sim lab ILC was distributed on July 10 and completed on October 16;
- results of the 2009 test lab ILC that shipped in August will be summarized by the end of December;
- all labs that have expressed interest in CMA accreditation have gone through;
- 21 certified simulators have been approved, representing 13 sim labs;
- one more CMA training session will be held, probably in January;
- NFRC 701-2010 has been updated and approved by APC, and includes new requirements for attendance at workshops and the time line for inspection report turnaround; and
- NFRC 701.03-2010 has been updated and sent to labs for review and input.

The committee also discussed how to provide the information and support that labs will need to produce reports under the CMA program.

CMA Program Continues its Progress

John Lewis, NFRC’s senior manager of business development and outreach, provided an update this afternoon on the Component Modeling Approach (CMA) Product Certification Program. CMA, which enables whole product energy performance ratings for non-residential projects, currently is in a pilot phase.

Lewis noted that testing and evaluation of the CMA Software tool (CMAST) continues and that Version 1.1.00 is about to be released. It will include financial functionality, he reported.

His presentation also highlighted CMA marketing outreach activities in California. Heschong Mahone Group, the firm selected by NFRC to conduct this work, is educating the building code community on the CMA provision in the latest version of the state’s buildings energy codes (Title 24). That version will take effect in January 2010. During the presentation, Lewis invited NFRC Board Member Nelson Pena, with the California Energy Commission, to offer details on CMA and Title 24 to the audience. Pena noted that the enforcement community is being made aware of energy requirements including review and acceptance of the CMA Label Certificate.

Lewis also highlighted free webinars on CMA and Title 24 that are scheduled for December 3, 2009, and January 28, 2010. More information is available online.

More information on CMA generally can be found on the NFRC Web site.

DOE Update at RAM

Funding for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), as well as for the Building Envelope and Window R&D programs, has more than doubled over the last two years, according to DOE program manager Marc Lafrance.

Lafrance told members of the NFRC Regulatory Affairs and Marketing Committee that EERE budget is now $2.2 billion, while that of the two programs is $16 million (not counting $35 million in stimulus funding).

With this new funding, Lafrance said that he will push forward on a number of fronts, including:

- moving towards zero-energy residential buildings by 2020 and zero-energy commercial buildings by 2025;
- implementing the existing highly insulating R5 window production engineering project once the solicitation process is complete;
- the ongoing volume purchase program; and
- continued investigation of a possible ENERGY STAR® Commercial Windows program.

Even as activities ramp up, Lafrance encouraged NFRC and its members to support the following policies to help ensure that the fenestration industry takes advantage of the available opportunities:

- programs designed to retrofit existing buildings;
- extension of the existing tax credit;
- utility rebate programs that incorporate fenestration; and
- requiring low U-Factor (0.20-0.24) with any solar heat gain coefficient.

“The United States has made an unprecedented investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Lafrance said. “The fenestration industry can play a major role in implementation and new product development.”

Local Green Building Leader Kicks Off RAM

The committees’ portion of the Fall Membership Meeting got underway this afternoon with the Regulatory Affairs and Marketing (RAM) Committee block. The afternoon’s session featured a special presentation by Anita Ledbetter, executive director of Build San Antonio Green™, a local residential sustainable building program that focuses on energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable materials, and more.

Ledbetter discussed the development of the organization’s program, which is performance-based. She explained that the organization focused on reaching production builders to reach the masses. She also noted that “green building is something achievable for all builders, at all price points.”

In December 2008, Build San Antonio Green launched a retrofit program for existing homes. “We’re moving into a whole new area,” said Ledbetter.

Among its activities, Build San Antonio Green provides technical workshops on energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, and green building. The organization has won several awards for its efforts, including the 2009 National Association of Home Builder’s National Green Building Award.

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.

Board Announces Topic for Special Discussion

The NFRC Board of Directors will continue its tradition of discussing one high-level concept at each membership meetings. At the end of today’s Opening Session, Chair Joe Hayden announced the topic that the Board will consider in San Antonio: “Does NFRC need enhanced manufacturer Quality Assurance (QA) to ensure on-going credibility?”

NFRC Board Member Jim Larsen, of Cardinal Industries, Inc., elaborated on the reasons why the Board chose this topic, which it will discuss tonight. Hayden then opened the floor to comments from attendees.

The Board will present the results of that discussion on Thursday morning, during the open Board Meeting.

Opening Session Starts with a Look to the Past

The opening session of the NFRC Fall Membership Meeting started with some special guests – the color guard from the San Antonio Living History Association, with one member of the group giving a live performance of the national anthem.

NFRC Chairman Joe Hayden then warmly welcomed attendees to the meeting, saying that it’s time again to “roll up our sleeves and get some work done.”

Hayden noted that this years mark’s NFRC’s 20th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, he created a special quiz for attendees covering other notable sports events that happened 20 years ago.

He also welcomed new member companies that joined NFRC since the Summer Membership Meeting in Baltimore:

-Heschong Mahone Group
-Madison Window Products
-Seashell Awnings
-Stork Twin City Testing
-THV Compozit Windows and Doors

After he discussed NFRC’s core mission, core values, and goals, Hayden reminded attendees of the requirement for IG certification that will begin on July 1, 2010.

Hayden also pointed out that the NFRC 2010 Spring Meeting will take place in New Orleans, followed by the 2010 Summer Meeting, which will be NFRC’s first virtual meeting. He asked for everyone’s patience as NFRC implements its first online meeting and said “we’ll look for constructive input.”

Continuing a tradition, Hayden wrapped up his presentation with his “homework assignment” for attendees, albeit one that’s more fun than usual. He asked attendees to share their favorite memories over NFRC’s past 20 years on one of the easels set up inside and outside the meeting room. The answers will be presented at Thursday’s Board meeting.

Hayden then concluded by thanking the members for all they do, this time in Spanish, “Gracias para todos ustedes hacen.”

Product Line ID Advances

Members answered the final question necessary before NFRC staff can provide a protocol to its database vendor that will add product line IDs prior to the issuance of certification authorization reports (CARs).

The final question, regarding whether members wanted the setting of the product line name precedence to the upload spreadsheet or to the name provided during reservations/modifications of the product line ID. Based on comments from the group, Scott Hanlon, NFRC’s Senior Program Manager, said he will move forward with the latter.

Hanlon said the protocol should be written and available for review by the Alpha Team and the task group by the end of the year, with possible deployment in the second quarter of 2010 depending on the nature of issues that are raised during the review process.

NFRC Pins Support Build San Antonio Green

NFRC is continuing the tradition of giving back to its meetings’ host cities. This time, meeting attendees can make voluntary donations (suggested amount: $10) to support Build San Antonio Green® in return for special Texas-themed lapel pin souvenirs featuring the NFRC logo.

Build San Antonio Green is a partnership of local governments, utilities, and other community stakeholders focusing on sustainable building in the residential sector. Its activities include technical workshops on green building and renewable energy, certifying green residences, and more.

Please be sure to stop by the registration desk to get your pin and support this wonderful cause!

PCP Review Task Group Does Its Job

The PCP Review Task Group, chaired temporarily by Joe Jonely from Amsco Windows, reviewed a number of negatives to multiple NFRC 700 ballots at its Monday morning meeting. The task group is charged with maintaining the PCP document, now known as NFRC 700.

Though the task group took no action, members discussed negatives submitted in response to separate ballots on applied film, lineal suppliers, private labelers, thermophysical properties and film labels. The negatives will be resolved during the Certification Subcommittee meeting on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Attachment Ratings: Numbers, Stars or Bars?

Prompted by feedback from the Board of Directors indicating that attachment manufacturers should consider communicating traditional numeric ratings (U-Factor, SHGC, etc.) in another form, the NFRC membership kicked off Monday morning’s Attachment Block with a spirited discussion of alternative attachment ratings.

What form those ratings would take remains unclear, but two of the options discussed included a star or bar system and an annual energy performance number.

Members raised a number of issues that need to be addressed before a path forward can be identified. NFRC Chair Joe Hayden, from Pella Corporation, pointed out that while he believes it would be advantageous to make it clear to the public that fenestration products and attachment products are rated differently, NFRC is already certifying two attachment products with numeric ratings.

“If we move to a different way of communicating attachment ratings, those manufacturers need a reasonable amount of time to shift to the new scheme,” Hayden said.

Several members said that no matter what, they always will need the numeric ratings to do business. “The film industry hasn’t been working all these years to get a ‘star,” said Lisa Winckler from Solutia, Inc. “We need real numbers.”

Ultimately, the group agreed that NFRC serves many different customers who need many different kinds of information.

“There’s a place for very simple numbers and a place for third-decimal point ratings,” said Steve Selkowitz from LBNL. “We ought to define what it is we do and what it is we don’t do and perhaps partner with other organizations to fill gaps. We don’t necessarily need to provide all the data to all the publics.”

Also during the Attachment Block, presided over by Michael Cienian from Hunter Douglas, several task groups provided reports on their efforts to develop ratings for interior/exterior attachments, awnings, door attachments, storm windows and applied film. For example, Willie DuPont from Sunergy Consulting discussed a series of residential and non-residential window and skylight and sloped glazing base case products that have gone out for ballot.

Door Task Group Discusses Standardization
At the Door Task Group meeting, held concurrently with the Attachments Block, participants discussed the NFRC door label and the possibility of standardizing simulation methods for doors. “Everybody does it a little differently, and it would be nice to be able to standardize the spreadsheet,” said Dave De Block, the task group’s vice chair.

The Door Task Group will report on its meeting at the U-Factor and Labeling subcommittees, as appropriate.

NFRC Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

The National Fenestration Rating Council is celebrating 20 years of trusted, independent energy performance ratings for fenestration!

Now is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come since 1989, when some two dozen industry stakeholders attending an ASHRAE meeting in Vancouver, convened to discuss the need for a national organization to administer a uniform fenestration energy rating system. With no official meeting space available, they met in the hotel’s bar and unanimously decided to form the NFRC.

Since that humble beginning – the original logo was sketched on a napkin – NFRC has become a leader for credible energy performance rating and certification programs for fenestration. The rating and certification system has advanced over the years to include both residential and commercial applications as well as glazing products and window films.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 20th anniversary with our valued members and staff,” said NFRC Executive Director Jim Benney. “We continue to take pride in providing fair, accurate, and reliable energy performance.”

For those in attendance in San Antonio, look for a special slideshow presentation celebrating the NFRC’s 20th Anniversary during the Membership Reception on Tuesday evening, as well as a champagne toast to mark this milestone.

NFRC Fall Membership Meeting Begins!

NFRC's 2009 Fall Membership Meeting kicked off bright and early this morning in San Antonio with the NFRC New Member Orientation.

First-time attendees, new members and others heard about the NFRC’s programs and processes.

“If I have one piece of advice for first-timers, it’s don’t be shy,” said Joe Hayden, chair of the NFRC Board of Directors. “Speak your mind, say your piece, and ask your questions.”

The meeting continues with concurrent tracks of task group sessions. One track features eight task groups that report to the Attachments Subcommitttee, while the second track comprises the Door Task Group and the Garage/Rolling Door U-factor Task Group. Those sessions will be followed by four other task group meetings, also split into two tracks.

Check back with NFRC News Now regularly for reports on key developments during the meeting and more news.

A Full House
Nearly 120 people registered for the meeting. NFRC’s Board of Directors extends a warm welcome to all attendees, particularly those joining us for their first NFRC membership meeting:

· Brian Amberg, Stork Twin City Testing
· Lynn Bingham, Phoenix Window Technologies
· Ken Brenden, American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)
· Korey Gearhart, EMCO Enterprises
· Martin Goss, Champion Window and Patio Room Company
· Andrew Hayes, Madico, Inc.
· Michael Krontz, Oldcastle Glass, Inc.
· Terry Mapes, Battelle Northwest
· Thomas Marusak, Comfortex
· Ed Peterson, Stork Twin City Testing
· Myrna Pula, Canadian Thermo Windows/Magic Window
· Dean Ruark, PGT Industries, Inc.
· Clayton Vigent, National Certified Testing Laboratories
· Gena Webb, Twitchell Corporation
· Daniel Zeiders, National Certified Testing Laboratories