Beyond the Label
by Deb Callahan
March 1st, 2021

FenStar Ensures Your Customers Know Their Windows Meet Energy Star Standards

It isn’t surprising that a recent survey of homebuyers found that energy efficiency is a major driver for decision making. Energy-efficient products, from washers and dryers to kitchen stoves and ranges, save consumers money and cut back on energy use. In a survey done by the National Association of Home Builders, homebuyers ranked the types of features they prefer, and Energy Star-certified doors, windows and appliances topped the list. At the same time, most consumers and homeowners don’t understand U-factor or solar heat gain coefficient ratings for doors and windows, but they do know and trust the Energy Star label. From its inception with the Department of Energy to its transition to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Star program makes it easy for consumers to pick products because they trust the analysis that’s been done behind the scenes, backed by science. This makes Energy Star a reliable brand. At the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), we rate the energy performance of fenestration products, qualifying them for Energy Star certification.

Research suggests that energy-efficient fenestration products lower energy use and reduce carbon emissions while making buildings more comfortable for inhabitants. Energy-efficient fenestration products reduced energy use by 774 gigawatt hours in the past 30 years. To put those savings into context, that’s equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by 547 million metric tons, one year of electricity use among 70 million U.S. households, or taking 118 million passenger cars off the road.

Those savings were made possible, in part, by NFRC, which became an official part of U.S. law and building codes with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. That same year, we also partnered with Energy Star to verify the accuracy of its residential windows certifications.

As the only EPA-approved certification body for the Energy Star program for fenestration products, NFRC has the dual responsibility to ensure products meet the requirements for certification, and to administer the testing of certified products to verify that they perform in the marketplace as originally designed. To do this, our FenStar Certification Program works with labs and inspection agencies to test randomly selected Energy Star-certified products each year. These ongoing verification tests also evaluate manufacturers’ installation instructions, air leakage information, and Energy Star and NFRC labels. Once all of the information is reviewed, a certificate is issued affirming that the product meets the requirements of the FenStar Program and Energy Star.

Last January, our FenStar Certification Program was accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to the ISO/IEC 17065 Product Certification standard. Because of this, we made several changes to the program to meet and exceed the requirements within the standard in order to maintain accreditation.

However, in the same year the FenStar program received this accreditation, NFRC found itself behind on the verification testing required by the EPA for 2019 and 2020. We worked tirelessly over the last six months to improve and update the program’s documents and operations, as well as to expedite the testing with labs. These changes and other ongoing operations improvements streamlined the verification testing process and outlined the roles and expectations of each group within the program.

Moving forward, we continue to improve the FenStar program to assure your customers that NFRC-rated doors, windows and skylights are products they can trust.

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