Before we can look to the future, I think it’s important to look back to the beginning – not just for a refresher on the path taken but also for a check on the path forward.

It’s also not a bad idea to remind our various stakeholders why we exist. Now that the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has been around for over 30 years, newer entrants to the industry aren’t as familiar with the origins of NFRC.

Why and How

In 1989, at a meeting in Vancouver, BC, Canada, a group of people in the industry were discussing the potential of government regulations (state and/or national) as a response to misleading and dishonest claims to consumers. With no standardized testing or reporting procedures in place, manufacturers were causing confusion in their claims. According to NFRC Behind the Glass: A History of NFRC as Told by the People Who Lived It, the Federal Trade Commission, acting through the U.S. Department of Energy, pressured the industry. “If you don’t create a system for testing and reporting, fair, accurate, and credible energy performance information for windows, doors, and skylights, we will,” was the summary from NFRC pioneer Mike Koenig, who was with Andersen Corporation.

In addition to the Federal incentive, the California Energy Commission was considering creating a rating system of their own. Those in attendance at this meeting realized the potential hassle and expense of 50 states with 50 different rating and labeling policies would not be sustainable for the industry.

The first version of the NFRC logo was drafted on a napkin.

The solution, agreed upon by those in attendance at this meeting, was to create an industry-driven, non-profit organization to coordinate and maintain standards for testing and reporting fenestration products for energy efficiency.

And so NFRC was born. They even drafted the first version of the NFRC logo on a napkin.

What Hasn’t Changed?

While the creation of NFRC may have forestalled external regulation, setting up the organization and reaching agreement on how products should be rated wasn’t without disagreement. But, for the most part, the industry came together. Today, the procedures and policies are set, and the consensus process allows open, professional discussion. Through membership, manufacturers of any size company, laboratories, inspection agencies, and other interested people are invited and encouraged to participate in the review and approval of NFRC’s program and technical procedures.

None of this has changed in the history of NFRC.

What also hasn’t changed is NFRC’s realization that consumer education is the key to the success of NFRC’s ratings and labeling programs. In addition to the public search feature on the Certified Products Directory (CPD) and involvement in the ENERGY STAR® program, NFRC has also made consumer outreach a priority with the acquisition and updating of the Efficient Windows Collaborative.

What Has Changed?

Of course NFRC now offers more than the U-factor rating, with standards in place for solar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance, air leakage, and condensation index/resistance.

With the imminent launch of the linear energy analysis for fenestration (LEAFF) program, the way that product lines are simulated offers the potential for getting products to market faster and easier. NFRC has also spent years researching, developing, and now finalizing improvements to the certification processes for commercial fenestration. Information on these developments – and why now is a good time to get involved – can be found in last month’s blog post.

And of course, NFRC has grown as an organization, with corporate competencies including not just the certification program and standards development but also:
* Fenestration industry consulting and testimonial expertise for energy codes, international harmonization, and energy ratings for bodies rating residential and commercial products;
* Professional development and conference planning; and
* Consumer education.

Moving Forward

I’m confident in the future direction of NFRC but that confidence does not allow complacency. This year, the NFRC board of directors will be reviewing the organization’s strategic plan to make sure that the organization continues to meet the needs of the industry and consumers while staying relevant to the green building direction globally.

I will provide updates on NFRC’s direction throughout the year and hope you will join our efforts. For more information on NFRC, please visit the NFRC website for the industry at For information developed for consumers and others outside the immediate industry, please visit

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