As CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, the planet is warming at an alarming rate, prompting a global response. The Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015 with the goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century. Buildings generate nearly 40% of the annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, around 30% of energy used to heat and cool homes is lost through inefficient windows.

In 1989, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) was founded to provide fair, accurate, and credible energy-performance ratings of doors, windows and skylights, to empower consumers to select fenestration products that save energy and provide comfort. For more than 30 years as an independent non-profit organization, NFRC has helped to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and save energy.

In our report, “NFRC’s Contribution to the Greater Good,” it’s estimated that in the last 30 years, the carbon emissions avoided through energy-efficient fenestration products equal more than 547 million metric tons of CO2. Further, the energy savings and carbon emissions avoided in the next 30 years is projected to reduce an additional 369 million metric tons of CO2. This number could increase, too, with stronger codes requiring the use of energy-efficient NFRC-certified doors, windows and skylights.

Beyond ratings, NFRC is taking steps to build a sustainable future that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet new needs going forward. In 2019, NFRC embarked on an ambitious new strategic plan, mission and vision that centered around sustainability and environmental responsibility. In the last two years, NFRC has made several intentional changes to strengthen energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.

Internally, NFRC has created a staff-led environmental team that has identified opportunities to reduce carbon emissions of our facility and operations while engaging staff and inspiring environmental stewardship within the organization. In just the last year, NFRC offset 100% of its CO2 emissions through TerraPass and implemented nearly 100% remote work for staff, which allowed us to reduce the size of the NFRC headquarters office.

Externally, NFRC has increased educational programming focused on sustainability and emerging trends in the fenestration industry. Last fall, the council featured keynote speaker Ed Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, with a mission to rapidly transform the built environment to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. Our sustainability series started with a macro look at future weather patterns and predictions; how the built environment is responding to climate change; and a micro review of innovations in solar glass.

This spring, NFRC commemorated Earth Day with the webinar Opportunities for Upgrading the Energy Performance of Existing Buildings, presented by Dr. Thomas Culp of Birch Point Consulting. Continuing on this trend, we’ve invited skylight manufacturer Velux to share their ambitious plan to become lifetime carbon neutral by 2041. To do this, Velux will capture their historical carbon footprint and, at the same time, reduce the future emissions for the company and value chain in line with climate science. On Tuesday, May 4 at 11 a.m. EDT, we’re hosting Velux leaders on a webinar to talk about their plan. Join us by registering here.

And, in case you missed it, our podcast Through the Glass hosted Velux America CEO, Tim Miller. He discussed the company’s sustainability strategy, and how it works closely with NFRC to continuously improve the energy efficiency of skylights and fenestration products.

NFRC has also committed to reducing travel beyond the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and utilizing virtual meeting platforms to limit in-person events. For the last 30 years, members have traveled from across the U.S. and Canada twice yearly to attend the Spring and Fall balloting meetings.  With three successful virtual balloting meetings under our belt, the pandemic has proven that NFRC can continue to conduct business while reducing the environmental impacts related to travel. However, NFRC recognizes the importance of building partnerships to drive innovation in the industry. For our annual Fall Membership meeting this year, we are working with the hotel and other vendors to ensure the event is sustainable in that it reduces waste through recycling, composting and avoiding disposable items. We want to manage our environmental impact throughout the entire planning and implementation process of our meetings and future events.

NFRC will continue to build a sustainable future by leading and inspiring our members and stakeholders to increase public awareness of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.

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