Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creating a Customer-Friendly Attachment Ratings Label

Last fall, NFRC approved technical procedures for the development of energy performance ratings for co-planar interior and exterior attachment products. This represented a major step toward one day providing third-party performance ratings for products such as blinds and shades. Throughout the development process, NFRC's Board of Directors provided guidance for the Fenestration Attachments program and continues to do so.

With technical procedures in place, NFRC's Attachments Subcommittee now is developing a certification and labeling program. It is a challenging task. Many variables affect the performance of an attachment product – e.g., the type of window to which it is attached, the operation of the attachment product itself (open/closed), the angle of the sun, etc. At the same time, it's important that NFRC provide customers with an easy-to-use label.

In early 2011, the board provided guidance on the development of the attachments label, recommending: "...that a 'Stars' rating on an attachment label [is an example of a rating system that] meets the direction previously approved by the board. Additional information on the label may be provided as long as it continues to meet board direction and the rating not be stated as a U-Factor and SHGC numerical rating. This does not exclude the use of U-factor and SHGC numerical data from other NFRC material related to attachments."

Those familiar with NFRC ratings know this is a departure from the numeric ratings found on our labels. During NFRC's spring meeting, attendees raised questions about the board's direction to the Attachments Subcommittee.

In my opinion, we need to keep in mind that customers, not building code enforcement officials, engineers or scientists, are the primary audience for these labels. In addition, the attachment label should avoid implying an undue level of precision, because NFRC does not know the performance of the window, door or skylight to which the product will be attached, the solar incident angles, or how the customer will operate the product.

The board's recommendation to use a different rating system for the attachment label will help make it more customer-friendly, allowing apples-to-apples comparisons of attachment products. It does not preclude the use of numerical data in forums other than the label itself. Providing U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient and visible transmittance data may be helpful, as long as that data is provided with additional explanations on a separate document.

While the board's direction specifically mentioned a "Stars" rating system, my interpretation is that it serves as an example. A different symbolic or scalar type system could also meet the board's guidance.

This is an opportunity for the attachments community to develop a visual ratings system that is distinct from the NFRC windows label and easily recognizable by customers. What type of system do you think the label should feature?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

China's Renewed Interest in Energy Efficiency Turns Attention toward Glass

A recent article in the New York Times says provincial governments in China are subsidizing the construction of factories that produce energy efficient products, including triple-layer, insulated glass.

The move comes as China grows more concerned with using energy efficiently. It is likely a response to electricity shortages and blackouts over the past year. Another likely trigger is the country’s security concerns regarding its dependence on energy imports.

Senior executives in the glass manufacturing industry report that Chinese construction companies had long chosen low-cost, less-insulated materials. The reason is that buildings in China tend to change hands frequently, causing owners to look past the potential for long-term paybacks from electricity savings.

The real estate industry in China is constructing office towers and apartment buildings at a brisk pace but with little regard for energy efficiency, but that is changing.

China’s building energy efficiency director at the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development reports that the ministry has adopted an energy labeling system for new commercial and government buildings. It is also looking at creating fiscal incentives for developers to use more efficient materials and adopt renewable energy.


Friday, June 10, 2011

NFRC Exhibiting at Building Conference in San Francisco

Representatives from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) will be exhibiting during the Pacific Coast Building Conference (PCBC), July 22-24.

The event will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

According to the show’s Website, PCBC is designed to improve dialogue in the industry and to explore new perspectives. It’s also designed to promote the understanding that sustainable development is environmentally sound, economically advantageous, and socially equitable.

Additionally, PCBC will work with attendees to encourage adopting recent legislative mandates and embracing a new mindset around energy-efficient homebuilding.

Exhibit Hall Hours

The exhibit hall will be open on Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It will also be open on Friday, June 24 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

If you are attending the conference, be sure to visit NFRC at booth N-5222. We look forward to answering your questions about our programs and activities.

Please contact NFRC's Communications and Marketing Manager, Tom Herron, with any questions.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Rebate Program in Fredericksburg, Virginia Seeks to Improve Energy Efficiency in Older Homes

Home owners in Fredericksburg, Virginia can now take advantage of a new rebate program aimed at making older homes more energy efficient.

The George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) initiated the program and is currently accepting applications from residents and contractors.

According to the
GWRC’s Website, the organization strives to coordinate planning to ensure economic competitiveness, reduce redundancy in government, improve efficiency, and enhance services and improve implementation time of regional projects

The program, known as the Home Energy Loss Prevention (GW-HELP) initiative, was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

These funds were available from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Under the program, a home energy audit that reveals residents can save at least 20 percent on their energy bills with various improvements can receive a rebate of up to $6,000 of the cost of qualifying work through the grant program. Qualifying improvements include windows and doors.