March 21, 2007
Vol 2 | Num 12

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NFRC to Add IG Certification Requirement

The National Fenestration Ratings Council plans to add a requirement for insulating glass certification as part of its rating and labeling program for windows and doors. The membership and board voted to develop an implementation plan for IG certification during NFRC’s spring meeting earlier this month, despite concerns raised about the effect on smaller window manufacturers that don’t currently certify IG.

“There was strong support from the attendees to have some sort of IGU certification ties to NFRC certification,” says Jim Benney, NFRC executive director. “The board of directors approved moving forward on the concept of such a requirement, but will wait on setting requirements and implementation dates for such a program until they get more input from the task group on the various necessary parameters that the program should require.”

Backing for the measure came from, among others, the
U.S. Department of Energy, which runs the Energy Star labeling program for windows and doors. To qualify for Energy Star labels, products must be rated and labeled under the NFRC program. In response to a DOE request, NFRC created an IG durability task group in 2005.

That task group conducted a survey which found that about 67 percent of IG units used in NFRC-rated products are already certified, says Margaret Webb, executive director for the
Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance. “The major concern for adding this requirement centered on the cost for those fabricators who do not currently certify,” she also notes.

The survey indicated that, “the vast majority of larger manufacturers—the same manufacturers that are producing the vast majority of units—do certify,” reports Greg Carney, technical director for the
Glass Association of North America. “It’s a concern for smaller manufacturers who don’t certify and are current participants in NFRC. This might bring up some additional complexity for those individuals.”

In comments provided as part of the survey results, numerous members expressed their support for the idea, but more appeared to question the added value it would provide to consumers. “Anyone that makes a certified window—almost mandatory in today’s market—already makes the windows under a monitored, regulated quality control program,” one respondent commented. “I don’t believe anything would be added to the product by making manufacturers certify the glass.”

“The availability and length of time for IG testing makes it somewhat troublesome,” another member stated. “We guarantee the IG units to the homeowner as we sell direct to the builder. Consequently, we monitor our failures very closely. We do a daily QC inspection on all of our IG departments.”

“Small manufacturers are currently struggling with the cost of the current testing,” noted another respondent. “If a third-party certification is added at current expenses, it could have terrible ramifications for the small business man to meet the requirements to sell these windows.”

DOE officials could not be reached for comment, but a DOE representative at the recent NFRC meeting “noted that DOE is neutral on the concept of NFRC requiring certification. But, they are strongly in support of certification in general,” Carney says.


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