Friday, January 28, 2011

Engaging the Silent Majority – Members who Don’t Participate

By Jim Benney

One of the pivotal benefits the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) offers its members is a voice and a vote, and we strongly encourage our entire membership to exercise this benefit to its fullest.

Your voice provides this organization with the benefit of your opinion and expertise; and your vote helps to ensure our standing as a “consensus” organization; as well as assuring that programs and standards being developed continue to support the goals and mission of NFRC.

Unfortunately, not all of our members take advantage of the opportunity to participate in how our ratings are developed and the impact they can have on market transformation and energy efficiency.

Maybe some members don’t participate in our consensus-based process because they feel like they can’t truly make a difference. Ironically though, a lack of participation can bring unintended consequences that adversely affect our entire organization.
Looking at the big picture reveals why every opinion, every idea, and every vote matters to NFRC.

Lack of participation adversely impacts fellow members. Those who choose not to participate in the development of NFRC’s ratings deprive others of alternative ideas and unique insight that could have influenced voting.

Members who choose not to participate also adversely impact themselves. They miss valuable networking opportunities to influence industry leaders who shape the future of NFRC standards.
They miss opportunities to develop a reputation as an industry expert among their peers and forego the chance to solidify their credibility with potential customers.

Possibly worst of all, lack of participation limits everyone’s growth, including NFRC itself. We can only improve the positive impact our ratings have on the industry and the world through the practical application of the vast and exceptional knowledge our members possess.

NFRC members have access to the brightest minds in the fenestration industry, and we
encourage frequent interaction and relationship building to create new opportunities.

With so many positive benefits to gained, how can NFRC encourage more participation? How can NFRC facilitate more interaction among members, and what kind of rewards would motivate them to share their knowledge with professionals who rely on new ideas to succeed?

Friday, January 21, 2011

NFRC and Daylighting Ratings

By Jim Benney

By providing independent and accurate daylighting ratings, NFRC could offer a more complete picture of the vital role fenestration plays in buildings. One of the most well-known roles fenestration plays is reducing electricity consumption associated with indoor lighting.

A lesser-known and perhaps equally important role, however, is the profound effect daylighting has on worker productivity.

While daylighting has been shown to benefit many areas of human health and performance, one of the most notable areas is worker productivity.

In fact, studies conducted by the Heschong Mahone Group (HMG), a California consulting firm, show a strong correlation between daylighting and improved productivity.

Some of HMG’s specific findings include the following:

  • Office workers exposed to the most daylight consistently reported a higher level of concentration and better short-term memory recall
  • Workers in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s customer service call center processed calls 7 percent to 12 percent faster when they had the best possible view, versus those with no view 
  • Computer programmers exposed to daylight spent 15 percent more time on their primary task, while equivalent workers without exposure to daylight spent 15 percent more time talking on the phone or to one another
Making optimal use of daylighting to bring out the best in office workers is an initiative well worth pursuing. Even small improvements in productivity can add up to big benefits over time.

The bigger question is – how do we quantify these benefits? Energy savings through daylighting is one thing, but what about productivity, comfort, and health? How can we help to evaluate these criteria and offer a metric to building owner, the code community and/or LEED?

Jim Benney is the National Fenestration Rating Council’s chief executive officer. He has been involved in developing product and performance standards for the window and glass industry for more than 20 years. He can be reached at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taxpayers Should Check Eligibility Requirements for 2010 Energy Credits

An article posted on Bloomberg online cautions taxpayers to pay careful attention to the specific eligibility requirements for certain credits for 2010.

One of those mentioned is the energy efficiency tax credit. The article points out that taxpayers who purchased energy-efficient windows may only take this credit if the product(s) were installed by December 31, 2010.

Those who meet this requirement may qualify for a credit of 30 percent, or a maximum $1,500.

Full Article

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Desire for More Energy Efficient Products Seen Driving Demand for Vinyl Windows to 141 Million Units by 2015

An online article published by Yahoo says the market research firm, Global Industry Analysts, is reporting that worldwide demand for vinyl windows will exceed 141 million units by 2015.

According to the report, one of the reasons for the growth in demand is the enhanced energy efficiency vinyl windows provide, particularly as environmental concerns become more prevalent and world and governments stipulate the use of energy efficiency of windows.

Demand is expected to increase for both new construction and retrofit projects.

Specific factors driving demand include the proliferation of new construction in developing countries and first-time home builders seeking products that are both economical and thermally effective.

Read the full story here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

President Obama Visits NFRC Participant Company Thompson Creek, Manufacturer Credits Stimulus Plan for Recent Success

An online article published by The Washington Post, said President Obama visited the headquarters of National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) Certification Program Participant company, Thompson Creek Windows, on Friday, January 7, where he spoke about economic data showing a reduction in the nation's unemployment rate.

The venue was fitting for Obama's message because Thompson Creek's President, Rick Wuest, credits part of his company's success over the past two years to Obama's stimulus plan.

Wuest pointed out in the article that during that time Thompson Creek's number of employees grew from 168 to 289. Wuest also said his sales have increased, and the company has leased a new 46,000-square-foot-headquarters.

Additionally, the article explains that the company's Website currently lists 16 job openings in various departments including accounting, sales, and marketing.

The stimulus plan featured a tax credit which had allowed homeowners to write off 30 percent of the purchase price (up to $1,500) on their income taxes for purchasing energy-efficient windows. This tax credit expired on December 31, 2010.

Wuest said more than 6,000 Thompson Creek customers benefited from the tax credit while it was in effect.

Obama said Thompson Creek’s success story is one he would like to see replicated across the country.

Full Article

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New York Incentive Program Promotes Green Homes, Encourages Strategic Window Placement

The Website is reporting that The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently announced a program aimed at building and certifying more green homes throughout the state.

Dubbed the Green Residential Building Program, New York is providing incentives to owners of certain residential or residential mixed-use buildings that incorporate practices and technologies that lower energy costs, reduce waste and water use, and improve indoor air quality.

Incentives are available to owners who can demonstrate that their buildings will use at least 30 percent less energy than conventionally built homes.

One of the green design principles the program encourages is positioning windows to take advantage of solar heat gain, minimize heat loss, make effective use of daylight, and reduce energy use.

The online article points out that incentives offered range from $5,125 for a single-family home up to $13,375 for an 11-unit multifamily building. Incentives are awarded based on the number of dwelling units in the building, but cannot exceed $3.75 per qualified occupied square foot.