March 6th, 2023
Moving Emerging Tech to Current Tech
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) began a series of webinars in 2021 on products at the intersection of innovation, development and research. This series of webinars and presentations at our annual meetings have been widely popular. Not only is the industry anxious to verify that these technologies are going to be viable product options, but consumers are catching wind of some of the technology and wondering when to expect them on the market.
Of course, all of us in the industry understand that a brilliant idea can’t just appear in production. These new technologies, with the promise for energy efficiency improvements and other potential benefits for the consumer, must still be rigorously tested before the fenestration industry can comfortably take on production and sales.
Innovators understand this. It’s not enough to say that this new process can be done inexpensively or will increase safety or save the consumer money in the long run. All those things can be true but if the product fails after a year, said product is not going to be on the market for long. Crossing all these thresholds can be complicated and time-consuming. More complicated innovations may not have simple data points and research is necessary to find the means for accurate testing so that no product type gains an advantage.
This is why NFRC is now expanding the Emerging Technology series to incorporate next steps into the discussion. All interested parties ought to know each other and the possibilities; we must also provide a roadmap to the marketplace to those involved in development – including innovators, researchers, potential manufacturing partners and standards developers.
To that end, NFRC has created the Emerging Technology Work Group to provide an arena for these investigations and collaborations. The starting purpose for this group is to seek out new technologies and identify paths to certification – both energy performance for NFRC certification and for other certifications as needed by industry or required by code. The Emerging Technology Work Group will serve to monitor innovation progress and guide innovators through the process. By all interested parties joining the conversation sooner, we can advance innovation sooner.
At the NFRC Fall Membership Meeting last October, NFRC’s Director of Code Development, Technology, and Innovation, Michael Thoman, spoke to attendees about challenges and opportunities for NFRC, the national laboratories, innovators, manufacturers, and other standards developers to get promising new technologies certified faster. This presentation, from the perspective of NFRC’s role in the process, provides a great overview of how the industry can be more proactive in preparing for emerging tech to reach the market so that months – if not years – can potentially be shaved off the delay between ready for market and certification.
This work group will assist NFRC and others in preparing standards earlier in the research and development process so that the procedures are in place when products are ready for market. Knowing technology is advancing, we can begin accommodating required standard document updates and reference to additional organizations’ standards significantly earlier if we are all working together.
Anyone interested in joining the new work group can contact NFRC’s membership manager, Jessica Finn. Membership isn’t a requirement for participation.