The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is moving full steam ahead with its proposed nonresidential rating and certification program. It could mean significant changes in the construction and building industries, including substantial surcharges on commercial fenestration products and significant time commitments for testing and certification.
The proposed program would create a component modeling system – a computer program that would accurately calculate the energy efficiency of a commercial fenestration unit based on its components such as framing and glass. Although experts say this calculation is exceptionally accurate, the NFRC has proposed additional physical testing and on-site certification to vary results and certify compliance for every single nonresidential building project. Technical experts have declared extra testing and certification unnecessary, saying they are steps that add no value but add significant cost and time. However, the NFRC has disregarded their input and is moving ahead with the program.
While moving forward, the NFRC has failed to address serious questions that may have a tremendous impact on the construction and building industries.
How much will the program cost?
Some industry members have estimated that the proposed program could cost more than $10,000 per building project. This cost will be borne entirely by the builder or building owner.
How much time will the testing and certification process take?
A computer component modeling system takes a matter of minutes to generate a reliable energy calculation. Physical testing of every unit and on-site certification add considerable time and expense to the process. It could take months to get all units for a project tested and certified, but NFRC has not addressed the issue.
Is the testing industry equipped to handle this?
Are there enough testing agencies equipped to provide the necessary physical testing? Are they prepared for a significant increase in volume? If not, significant construction delays could become commonplace.
Few will argue that increased energy performance is undesirable, and reliable energy efficiency calculations could be incredibly helpful to building owners and the construction industry. However, these calculations can be accomplished in an affordable, efficient manner, without redundant and expensive testing and certification. If the NFRC proceeds with their plan, the building industry will pay for the added time and expense. Furthermore, this will become an enforceable part of the building code – not an option.