NFRC Gets to Work at Fall Meeting

The National Fenestration Rating Council's (NFRC) Fall Meeting took place this week in Arlington, Texas. The three-day meeting began Monday morning as members gathered for a series of task group meetings, including two that convened to begin discussions on how to rate and certify the following new products: storm doors and windows and garage/rolling doors.

The Component Modeling Approach Technical and PCP task groups also to discuss outstanding items and review CMA certification procedure ballot responses.

During the membership luncheon NFRC chairperson Marcia Falke addressed the group and spoke about the importance of change.

"We need to learn to embrace it, learn from it and recognize it for the benefits it brings," she said. Falke explained that she chose change as her topic since she had just finished reading Tough Choices, by Carly Fiornia, the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard who led the company's acquisition of Compaq, a transaction that ultimately cost her her job. "… Change, successful change, requires everyone to work together. To help one another. To support one another. Leaders need to point everyone in the right direction, but the journey--the change--is a team effort," said Falke.

She explained that sometimes changes seem "forced," such as by building officials. "So does the U.S. Department of Energy, and other regulatory bodies," Falke said. "In some ways our efforts to offer new and improved options for rating and labeling nonresidential products can be considered forceful change. The California Energy Commission came to us and asked us to provide an alternative to the current Site-Built Program."

She also pointed out that change can also come from within a group or organization.

"Every time we meet, members of this wonderful organization come forward with proposals to help us better achieve our mission." Some examples she cited included new way to test thermal performance, requests to add new products to the rating and labeling system and proposals to conduct research for the benefit of the entire fenestration community.

"Over the last 17 years, NFRC has changed a lot. I could sit here for hours and describe the many, many differences between NFRC in 1989 and NFRC in 2006," she said. "And my point really isn't how we've changed. What I want to emphasize is why we've changed. We've changed because we had to, of course. But we changed mostly because we wanted to."

She said it was certain that there would be many issues that would be a challenge for the NFRC, including the new nonresidential options and re-certification, and added, "I hope that when change presents itself you will embrace it."

In an early morning session on Tuesday, Falke presented an alternative to the NFRC Site Built program. According to meeting reports, "the NFRC continues to move full-speed ahead with the Component Modeling Approach (CMA), and is working with its members to develop the program appropriately. While NFRC maintains its commitment to deliver the final program to meet California's non-residential deadline, this proposed alternative will account for all possible scenarios. It's a working alternative to Site-Built, and is not an all-encompassing solution, as CMA will be."

The Research & Technology Committee Block of meetings also convened during the first day. During the Research Subcommittee several members presented reports on a number of projects including U-factor rating of domed skylights and condensation resistance procedure for the non-residential CMA.

In addition, the NFRC board election results were announced as well. Beginning next month the following members will assume or continue positions on the NFRC board of directors:

  • General Interest Category: Kerry Haglund, Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota;
  • General Interest Category: Jeffrey Harris, Alliance to Save Energy;
  • Fenestration Industry: Joseph A. Hayden, Pella Corporation;
  • Fenestration Industry, Commercial: Mike Manteghi, TRACO; and
  • Laboratory Category: Michael J. Thoman, Architectural Testing Inc.

The last day of the meeting wrapped up with its technical committee block, including the solar heat gain subcommittee, U-factor subcommittee, condensation subcommittee, software subcommittee and CMA technical subcommittee.

Jeff Franson of Mikron led the condensation subcommittee meeting, and reported on the condensation resistance pamphlet that the committee is working to develop. The pamphlet contains three basic sections, "what is condensation?" "how is condensation reduced? And what is the condensation resistance rating? Franson noted that the subcommittee's most recent action was the addition of a chart showing some ranges of condensation resistance taken from the NFRC's database to the subcommittee's document.

After some discussion regarding the specifics noted in the chart, Patrick Muessig of Azon USA Inc., made a motion to remove the material specific to framing chart that intends to show material specific ratings and replace them with a more general range. The motion was seconded and 27 voted in favor of the motion, three opposed it and six abstained. In addition, it was agreed to change the notation "CR" throughout the document to the notation "condensation resistance rating." Joe Hayden of Pella, Iowa-based Pella Corp., led the report on WINDOW 6/THERM 6 for the software subcommittee and noted that right now, the subcommittee is hoping to get some response from the industry on the program.

"We're definitely looking for feedback from the manufacturers on software," Hayden said.

Christian Kohler of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory also contributed to the update on the software. He noted that version 6.1 of the WINDOW 6 and THERM 6 software was released in October, but with no major changes for basic products. He did note that the software can specify any coverage percentage and the subcommittee's goal is to add more and more validation to the software.

Tony Rygg of the California Energy Commission also provided an update on the Component Model Approach software specification task group and noted that the first bidders conference has been held and the second is already on schedule.

Mike Manceghi of Cranberry Township, Pa.-based Traco Inc., chaired the Component Modeling Approach technical subcommittee meeting with Gary Curtis of the Salem, Ore.-based WestWall Group serving as sub chair.

In the subcommittee [meeting], Mahabir Bhandari of Amherst, Mass.-based Carli Inc., provided an update on the CMA technical program World Map task group and Michael Thoman of York, Pa.-based Architectural Testing Inc., led the update on the CMA validation test task group.

Likewise, Jeff Baker of WestLab, led the update on the CMA spacer grouping task group and Charlie Curcija of Carli Inc., provided updates on the CMA frame grouping RFT task group and the CMA condensation resistance RFT task group.

Thoman noted that the task group still has lots of work before it on its scope.

"The task group will continue to need to do work on the parameters on exactly what's tested, so we'll continue after this meeting," he said.

Baker advised that the spacer task group has set before it three basic paths, spacer manufacturers can follow under the component modeling approach. Path one will be a simple path for spacers that contain no metal.

"This is the solution for spacer manufacturers that don't want to do any work but just want to get the spacer in the system," Baker said.

Path two will be more specific but still a bit more generic than path three-a basic rating will be given to the spacers in this path. Path three will allow spacer manufacturers to have their ratings calculated on a range of measurements of the spacer.

Tracy Rogers of Cambridge, Ohio-based Edgetech IG, brought forth a negative regarding paths that the CMA spacer task group presented, which led to a heated discussion among those in attendance. He asked the question, "If there is sputtered aluminum foil in a spacer is that considered metal?"

Rogers expounded further upon his point.

"We need to set a limit-do some research and find out what that limit is," he said. "The whole basis for what NFRC is doing is based on science."

Curcija in turn came forward for a motion.

"I motion that part one of Tracy's negative is persuasive. If the thickness of the metal is less than 10 microns, it doesn't constitute metal in the spacer," Curcija said.

After much discussion, this motion was not sustained. Roland Temple of PTG Industries, of Bradley, S.C., then motioned to consider part one of Rogers' negative persuasive and send the issue back to the task group. Baker, who chairs the spacer task group, objected to this suggestion, noting that path one is for a small number of spacers only and to do further research on this issue would not be worthy of the group's time.

"If there is metal contained in the spacer, it just pushes you into path two, and that's not a punitive or more costly path," Baker said.

To this discussion, Temple responded with another motion.

"I'd like to make another motion to find item one of the Edgetech ballot to be non-persuasive and group one stays as it is-metal is metal," Temple said.

Twenty-one voted in favor of Temple's second motion, none voted against and Rogers abstained.

Next, Thomas Culp, of Birch Point Consulting LLC, motioned that it be recommended to the board that section be deleted from the document and replaced with the following wording:

"Framing components shall be tested as a whole product unit, in an insulating glazing unit as selected by the manufacturer in accordance with NFRC 102 and in accordance with all frame and validation grouping rules. Validation shall be determined by the equivalence criteria of section 4.7.1 of this document."

The majority of those in attendance voted for Culp's suggestion and it was put through to the board.

Today, the group's meeting will conclude with the NFRC board meeting.

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