NFRC Wraps Up Fall Meeting with Board Meeting

The National Fenestrations Rating Council debated estimating costs for its component modeling approach (CMA), how the new NFRC glossary should be incorporated, how to spend research funds and its current process for selecting board members at its board meeting this morning at the DoubleTree Hotel in Washington, D.C. In addition, committee chairpersons provided wrap ups of the week's meetings to the board, along with several action items.

The CMA cost question was brought forth by Steve Strawn of Jeld-Wen Inc., chairperson of the ratings committee, when he made the following motion to the board:

"I motion that the board form a board-level task group to explore CMA costs and estimates," Strawn said.

He continued, "we're not asking for a definite number, but you can at least narrow it down."

Greg Carney of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) echoed the ratings committee's thoughts.

"As soon as we can get some estimated costs out to the industry, it will be beneficial," he said.

NFRC board member Michael Thoman of York, Pa.-based Architectural Testing Inc. agreed.

"This has been such a big concern since we began this process and there's still much fear out there. We've got to answer this question," he said. "They need the number to make some informed decisions. We need to answer the question as fast as we can."

Rich Biscoe, also of Architectural Testing Inc., came to the microphone with a different outlook.

"With all due respect, this beating up on the board about this fee thing is silly," Biscoe said.

In response to this discussion, Alecia Ward of the Midwestern Energy Efficiency Alliance of Chicago, motioned to table the motion, stating that the board will convene again on November 27. She said that forum will give the board a good chance to figure out how to go about determining the fees for CMA-rather than forming a task group to plot this course.

The board voted in favor of Ward's motion.

Joe Hayden of Pella Corp., chair of the research and technology committee, reported on the glossary and terminology task group's work and motioned to the board to approve the glossary as revised and implement immediately upon publication.

Thoman seconded the motion with a friendly amendment that NFRC also make the definitions consistent with those in the existing documents and remove all definition from the NFRC's existing documents and include references to the glossary in place of the definitions.

Hayden, however, mentioned that the task group's plan had been that all existing documents would stay the same for now and would be adapted in the 2009 code cycle.

Based on this Thoman withdrew his amendment.

The original motion by Hayden was then approved by the board.

Thoman followed up with a second motion that all definitions be removed from the existing documents.

"I want to start using the glossary immediately," he said. "We've done the right thing by making the glossary-let's finish the job."

Jeff Baker of WESTlab Inc., sided with Hayden.

"I would much rather see that the glossary be kept up-to-date … I'd rather leave the documents as is though until the 2009 code cycle," Baker said. "I think it's going to create a lot of confusion with the current documents."

Charlie Curcija of CARLI Inc., who has been involved with the glossary task group for eight years, added that due to the technology available to the NFRC, the documents could be updated electronically immediately.

After much discussion, Thoman's motion was approved by the board.

Hayden also provided a budget update for the research and technology committee, stating that the committee currently has a balance of $663,639 available.

"We have a lot of money out there for research, so we need to figure out how to get that research done," he said.

Biscoe agreed, noting that bringing someone on to the task group with more experience in research could be helpful to the group.

"I'm concerned about the balance that NFRC has in its research account. We need to do a better job of utilizing that," Biscoe said. "If we can get somebody who's much more professional and experienced with research it could help us with the program and help us to be more efficient."

Thoman brought a chuckle to the crowd when he responded, "With volunteers, you get what you pay for."

On this note, the board moved on to other business. After updates from each of its committee chairpersons, the floor was opened for new business. At this time, Margaret Webb of the Insulating Glass Manufacturing Alliance brought forward her concern regarding board of director selection and the fact that all committee chairs hold ex-officio positions on the board, meaning that they can contribute to all board discussions and attend both open and closed board meetings, but cannot vote. Webb pointed out that, of the board of directors' 19 members, currently ten are official board members and nine are ex-officio directors.

She also offered some suggestions for resolving the issue.

"If someone's going to run for the board, I think they should also have to serve as a committee chairperson," she said.

She continued, "I'd like the board to start considering three ex-officio members, Jim [Benney, NFRC executive director], Scott [Meza, legal counsel for the association] and the DOE [Department of Energy], and the rest of the board members shall serve as chairpersons of committees."

Ward, who serves as both a board member and as a member of the governing committee, advised this topic is not new.

"We believe there's a significant value in retaining that knowledge [of the ex-officio directors]. This is a topic we have regular conversations about," she said.

Gary Curtis of the West Wall Group LLC, also a board member, agreed.

"I've had two different opportunities to serve on the board … in general I've found the ex-officios to be very valuable in helping to make decisions," he said.

Thomas Culp of Birch Point Consulting LLC agreed with Curtis, but still echoed Webb's sentiments.

"There's no doubt that certain ex-officios are valuable and provide information on their committees, but there are certain ex-officios that use their position to exert influence over the board," Culp said.

Many board members responded, advising that all NFRC membership has the ability to influence the board and share information with them.

"There is nothing to stop any of the directors from going out to any member to get their opinion, but the problem is, sometimes, you're only getting one opinion," Webb said.

Carney agreed, noting that with NFRC's move toward CMA, this issue could become more pressing and the board may be compelled to expand itself to include some members from the commercial side of the industry.

Meza noted that this has been a concern of his as well.

"We absolutely should have your industry represented on this board, but we've asked people to run and they've declined," he said.

Darrell Smith of the Martinsville, Va.-based International Window Film Association suggested that the NFRC follow the suit of other organizations of which he is a member and have each member be directly involved with a committee chairperson to serve as a liaison for the board.

After much discussion, Chuck Anderson of Simonton Windows motioned that the governance board look at having the board members being selected directly by the membership and to study the feasibility of changing the process by which board members are selected.

Thoman seconded the motion. Six voted in favor and two abstained, and needing a vote of seven to move forward, the motion was tabled.

Garrett Stone of Brickfield, Burchette, Ritts & Stone P.C., whose regular board term ended with this meeting and who will now serve as an ex-officio as chair of the regulatory affairs and marketing committee, was one of those who abstained. He explained that he felt it was a conflict of interest to be involved in the vote. He did note, however, that he feels strongly that ex-officio directors are helpful to the board.

"Having worked as a voting member for six years, having as much information available as possible is a good thing," Stone said.

Ward noted that reviewing the process is already on the governance board's agenda for 2007 and the committee will report on this review at the NFRC's next meeting, which will be held in Austin, Texas, March 5-8, 2007.

- by Penny Stacey

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