Plavecsky's
by Jim Plavecsky
October 3rd, 2013

A Fresh Perspective on the NFRC

Attending the NFRC meeting last week as a guest speaker provided me with a fresh perspective on this organization and how it is eager to expand and broaden participation among manufacturers of fenestration products. Back in the day, I attended NFRC meetings when the organization was in its infancy. I have seen our industry transform from one where there was no standard methods of comparing window thermal performance to a situation where every window company wishing to be taken seriously absolutely must participate in these test standards and labeling procedures. I have always made a career of selling higher performance products, so life before the NFRC was much tougher!

In trying to sell products to companies that built windows with higher “overall window thermal performance,” my customers would complain that their competitors were advertising better thermal performance numbers based upon “center of glass” values. The complaint I would hear most often was …“Why should we buy your product when our competitors can get away with using center of glass values and saying they are better!”

Thankfully, the NFRC changed all of that by establishing a set of standards that all window manufacturers must adhere to with audits and an independent verification testing to boot! Somewhere along the line, however, many manufacturers have come to view the NFRC as the bad guy, responsible for propagating more and more test procedures which cost manufacturers more and more test dollars and thereby adding more and more to the cost of doing business!

However, this is not what I saw happening at this meeting! What I saw was discussions on how to better educate members regarding existing test standards, encouragement of members to become more active in the evolution of test standards, proposed ways to increase NFRC membership among fenestration manufacturers, and proposed methods of reducing costs of fenestration testing. The latter discussions included possible ways of reducing the frequency of testing as well as proposals to reduce the costs of performing audits. In other words, how do we make participation in test standards more affordable for industry participants? I found this very refreshing.

Prior to starting my presentation, I polled the audience to get a feel for their background. By a show of hands approximately 80 percent of the audience was comprised of engineers. This did not totally surprise me. But it prompted me to ponder … “what the NFRC needs,” I thought, “is greater participation and attendance from marketing, sales and executive management types in order to provide a broader influence and guidance when it comes to better educating consumers about the value of choosing windows with greater thermal performance, not only in terms of energy savings but also in terms of creature comforts and viewing pleasure.”

So, if your company is not an active participant in the NFRC, or if you are only sending your engineers and not including marketing and sales types, then you may be missing out. Why sit back and let standards become established without providing your input? This is your chance to help shape the landscape of our industry and the playing field on which we compete!

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  1. Jim, you are so right.
    The NFRC standardized testing finally allows the consumer to compare product on a level playing field… Property owners should be as aware of these numbers as they are of “MPG” stickers. They would pay Consumer Digest for that kind of information, but most of the time they are completely unaware of the test numbers.
    I try to make the process of deciphering the “Hyrogliphics” of the label easy to understand. They are almost deliberately confusing to the consumer.
    Good marketing of an easier to understand “MPG” sticker on doors and windows would make standardized NFRC testing more relevant.

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