June 5th, 2023
The Value of Certification and Accreditation: Because ‘Take Our Word for It’ Isn’t Enough
Though I wasn’t with the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) when it was founded, in my 18 years with the organization I have seen firsthand the role that fenestration products play in enhancing the aesthetics, energy efficiency and comfort of homes and buildings. I believe wholeheartedly that it is essential that consumers have access to reliable, unbiased information that helps them make informed choices for their homes. Providing this guidance—independent of company marketing—was the basis for the origins of NFRC and will continue to play a vital role in the future. Third-party certification serves as a beacon of trust, transparency and quality assurance for fenestration products and NFRC takes this role very seriously.
This isn’t limited to NFRC and energy performance ratings, of course. I’m sure other certification organizations feel the same. Standards are developed precisely so that all products are tested and performance values are reported in the same way. While we are all part of this industry and don’t need an explanation of fenestration ratings, we are equally in need of third-party certification information in other areas of our personal lives.
Third-party certification acts as an impartial validation process that assesses and certifies the performance of the products, whether for structural, sound or energy. It provides a standardized framework to ensure the fair, accurate and consistent representation of results, allowing consumers to make choices based on comparisons that align with their needs and preferences.
Accreditation Versus Certification
Certification and accreditation are often used as if they are synonyms. They are not. While manufacturers certify to give their customers added assurances, NFRC will become accredited by an internationally recognized third party to provide additional weight to those certifications with stakeholders, such as consumers, government bodies, building officials and others who rely on NFRC’s ratings.
NFRC is now on the path to ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation for the Product Certification Program (PCP). For all the reasons that manufacturers benefit from the oversight of third-party certification, so too can we benefit from accreditation and oversight. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) makes this simple distinction: “Accreditation legitimizes certifications and certification legitimizes the individual, organization, service or product.”
By becoming accredited, the value of our ratings increases and is further strengthened. In addition to assuring that our ratings and processes are as uniform as possible, accreditation provides additional protections for those who rely on the NFRC marks and labels and how they can be used. Manufacturers participating in the program gain the benefit of further confidence and acceptance of the performance values, certification mark and the NFRC label. In addition, participants gain the assurance that no decision or action is arbitrary but is instead process-based.
Where we rely on the ratings of products to support our own purchases, we must work together to assure consumers buying fenestration that the products we make available will live up to their expectations. As an industry, we are well on our way in making sure consumers know #Why Windows Matter, and we give them the data to back up their choices.