DOE Requests Expanded Collaboration with NFRC on Energy-Related Research

August 3rd, 2010 by DWM Magazine

During the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) recent board of directors meeting, the Research and Technology Committee discussed recent correspondence with the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE wants NFRC to create more competitive research on the long-term energy performance of fenestration products.

According to committee chair Werner Lichtenberger of Truseal Technologies, “Mark [LaFrance] was pretty specific in an e-mail exchange that he’d like NFRC to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) that involves research and testing.”

LaFrance wrote in correspondence with NFRC, “While DOE and NFRC have worked closely on research over the past few years, the research activity within NFRC seems to be limited.” He requested an opportunity to expand collaboration for activities not “directly related to the NFRC process” but otherwise of importance for the energy performance of windows.

High on DOE’s list is research regarding long-term energy performance.

According to LaFrance’s e-mail, “DOE has been funding high risk, high reward research to achieve very high performing windows with U-values of 0.10 and that have dynamic solar control. As the invested value in windows increases, the need to maintain original energy performance as long as possible is of high concern. DOE would like to work with NFRC staff to prepare an RFP that involves research and testing to support the formulation of a long-term energy performance test procedure.

Furthermore, the contractor should also work to promulgate the test procedure within the ASTM process. This research could have a second phase that may be completed separately that would establish benchmarks to assess relative long-term energy performance levels or bins.”

Lichtenberger reminded the group that seven years ago a report was issued by ETC Labs about an NFRC long-term research project.

However, several council members noted that the direction of the research would need to be clarified.

“If we’re going to go down this road again, let’s go down a different road because what we’ve always decided with long-term energy performance isn’t the goal,” said Mike Thoman of Architectural Testing. “We’ve tried this for years and never got anywhere … we need a fresh look at what we’re chasing after … [we] need to have some serious discussion with Mark what the end goal is going to be.”

“It’s very important that we establish upfront that we can’t confuse long-term energy performance with durability …” added another listener. It was pointed out by several members that in previous discussions IG certification had acted as the primary gauge as it has the most potential to change significantly, in terms of fenestration energy performance, over time.

The discussion was referred back to the NFRC Research and Technology Committee to pursue further.

During the board of directors’ question-and-answer session a meeting attendee asked for the status of the board’s work on putting together blind testing for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program.

During the NFRC’s last meeting EPA representatives noted that they are seeking some form of fenestration verification, such as a blind purchasing testing program, for ENERGY STAR products.

According to Jim Larsen of Cardinal Glass, “The board of directors has been working closely with EPA and ENERGY STAR. [They] have put together an outline that provides the basis for a blind verification procedure that will meet ENERGY STAR requirements.” He added, “EPA does recognize NFRC and its labs and its certification programs will be the only one qualified to run an ENERGY STAR program once we’ve agreed upon this verification procedure.”

According to Joe Hayden of Pella, NFRC chair, EPA has been pleased with NFRC’s progress so far, adding, “[The] only gap they see is that the program doesn’t have any aftermarket volume verifications.”

Hayden also noted that once work is completed an information bulletin will be available for members to present to the companies with which they work.



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