Progress on Non-Res Certification at NFRC Meeting

Quebec City--Progress on the issue of the non-residential certification was the order of the day during the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) meeting that is currently underway in Quebec City. Following the contentious meeting in Chicago in April, attendees from the non-residential side were both happy and surprised.

An alternative flow chart for the certification process was introduced during the non-residential products task group (ratings) meeting, with general agreement that the system simplifies the earlier model and provides useful information that the industry can live with.

The new flow chart, which NFRC says will be posted on its website within a few days, will be open for public comment for a 30-day period after its posting. The goal is to finalize the flow chart by the next meeting in November, and once it is finalized to start developing the language of the program.

"We've gotten comments from a range of people (those in the industry, consultants) as to what would be a viable program," stated Greg Carney, technical director of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and chair of the non-residential products task group for ratings. "It is dramatically different from the first draft," he said.

One of the major departures between the two is that the term "responsible party" is dropped and replaced with "registered design professional." This shifts the emphasis from the contract glazier to the designer/architect.

Carney told the more than 40 people who attended the meeting that a lot of the first draft was based on the NFRC's site built and residential program. "This draft incorporates input from the commercial industry for what it deems a program that is workable and of use," he stated.

"It's a simplified approach to a certification program that gives one option for being a design tool," he continued. "One way NFRC can provide value is by being the one source [to whom] the designer can go for meeting the criteria outlined. This process is very well defined: How you comply. How you provide documents to be in compliance. There is less policing because that takes place in the industry."

Jim Benney, NFRC executive director told attendees that he is "excited about the process and what you are doing." He did ask the question, though, about the process with peer review of framing systems: Are there concerns in the industry about sharing information among peers?

Carney said that in certain aspects that would not be an issue. "For ordinary applications, there is little difference between what is available from all the suppliers. In larger, more sophisticated applications, it's more challenging. In the massive custom curtainwall applications the manufacturers would be more hesitant to share their information," he stated.

Joel Smith of Arch Aluminum & Glass reiterated the second draft approach by explaining the role AIA documents and contracts play in building construction. "The AIA contracts and documents very clearly spell out what is happening in construction," he explained. "They define qualitative requirements for the products. The contract legally obligates the glazing contractor to furnish and install specified and approved material. The industry is not fraught with misrepresentation"

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