DOE Requests Expanded Collaboration with NFRC
on Energy-Related Research
July 27, 2010
During the National Fenestration Rating Council's (NFRC) board
of directors meeting last week, the Research and Technology Committee
discussed recent correspondence with the Department of Energy (DOE).
DOE wants NFRC to create more competitive research on the long-term
energy performance of fenestration products.
According to committee chair Werner Lichtenberger of Truseal Technologies,
"Mark [LaFrance] was pretty specific in an e-mail exchange
that he'd like NFRC to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) that
involves research and testing."
LaFrance wrote in correspondence with NFRC, "While DOE and
NFRC have worked closely on research over the past few years, the
research activity within NFRC seems to be limited." He requested
an opportunity to expand collaboration for activities not "directly
related to the NFRC process" but otherwise of importance for
the energy performance of windows.
High on DOE's list is research regarding long-term energy performance.
According to LaFrance's e-mail, "DOE has been funding high
risk, high reward research to achieve very high performing windows
with U-values of 0.10 and that have dynamic solar control. As the
invested value in windows increases, the need to maintain original
energy performance as long as possible is of high concern. DOE would
like to work with NFRC staff to prepare an RFP that involves research
and testing to support the formulation of a long-term energy performance
test procedure. Furthermore, the contractor should also work to
promulgate the test procedure within the ASTM process. This research
could have a second phase that may be completed separately that
would establish benchmarks to assess relative long-term energy performance
levels or bins."
Lichtenberger reminded the group that seven years ago a report
was issued by ETC Labs about an NFRC long-term research project.
However, several council members noted that the direction of the
research would need to be better clarified.
"If we're going to go down this road again let's go down a
different road because what we've always decided with long-term
energy performance isn't the goal," said Mike Thoman of Architectural
Testing. "We've tried this for years and never got anywhere
we need a fresh look at what we're chasing after
need to have some serious discussion with Mark what the end goal
is going to be."
"It's very important that we establish upfront that we can't
confuse long-term energy performance with durability
added another listener. It was pointed out by several members that
in previous discussions IG certification had acted as the primary
gauge as it has the most potential to change significantly, in terms
of fenestration energy performance, over time.
The discussion was referred back to the NFRC Research and Technology
Committee to pursue further.
During the board of directors question-and-answer session a meeting
attendee asked for the status of the board's work on putting together
blind testing for the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR
During the NFRC's last meeting EPA representatives noted that they
are seeking some form of fenestration verification, such as a blind
purchasing testing program, for ENERGY STAR products.
According to Jim Larsen of Cardinal Glass, "The board of directors
has been working closely with EPA and ENERGY STAR. [They] have put
together an outline that provides the basis for a blind verification
procedure that will meet ENERGY STAR requirements." He added
that "EPA does recognize NFRC and its labs and its certification
programs will be the only one qualified to run an ENERGY STAR program
once we've agreed upon this verification procedure."
According to Joe Hayden of Pella, NFRC chair, EPA has been pleased
with NFRC's progress so far, adding, "[The] only gap they see
is that the program doesn't have any aftermarket volume verifications."
Hayden also noted that once work is completed an information bulletin
will be available for members to present to the companies with which
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