Manufacturers put under the microscope in NFRC nonresidential rating program

February 13, 2007
COMMERCIAL : MEETINGS AND EVENTS

Component Modeling Approach, top priority at spring meeting

Manufacturers can still serve as an approved calculation entity within the National Fenestration Rating Council’s nonresidential rating program, but only with 100 percent review from an inspection agency.

The manufacturer’s role as an ACE was put in jeopardy during the January board meeting of the NFRC, of Silver Spring, Md., says Tom Culp, owner of Birch Point Consulting LLC in La Crosse, Wis.

“In January, the board discussed at length whether manufacturers could serve as an approved calculation entity for generating product ratings,” Culp says. “They initially voted to remove the ability for a manufacturer to serve as an ACE, even with review by an independent party.”

However, the board revised its decision after several members and industry representatives opposed the decision, Culp says.

Marcia Falke, president of Keystone Certification Inc. in Etters, Pa., and board chair for NFRC, says the board scrutinized the role of a manufacturer ACE during its meeting and “decided if there was adequate independent review—100 percent review—it would meet requirements.”

According to the current CMA, all product calculations done by a non-independent manufacturer have to be approved by an IA. NFRC has four IAs, including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, both of Schaumburg, Ill., Keystone Certification, and the National Accreditation & Management Institute Inc. of Newport News, Va.

Opposition to the initial removal of the manufacturer ACE came from industry representatives including Margaret Webb, executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance in Ottawa, Ontario.

Manufacturer reliance on independent ACEs could increase costs for companies, Webb says. “Instead of doing [calculations] in house at a reduced cost, manufacturers would have to pay to have it done,” she says. “These costs could be significant, and one of the things that the manufacturers feel very strongly about in this program is to try to keep it affordable.”

Outside of cost arguments, Culp says manufacturer calculations are accepted in the commercial industry.

“The building industry already looks to manufacturers for performance of their systems today, and they trust the numbers they receive, even without NFRC,” Culp says. “We need to stay consistent with how the industry already works.”

Falke says she anticipates further discussion regarding IA approval to arise at NFRC’s spring meeting scheduled for March 5-8 in Austin, Texas. Many NFRC members would like requirements lessened for work done by non-independent manufacturer ACEs.

“We argue that a random sampling—20 percent—is adequate for reviewing the accuracy of the ratings, together with all the other checks and balances,” Culp says.

Falke recommends that interested parties should attend the CMA meetings March 5 for the technical task group, the labeling task group and the PCP task group. The board of directors can hear member comments and concerns during the opening session and the March 8 board meeting, Falke says. “The board is open to questions from anybody,” she says.

The non-residential product certification program through NFRC’s Component Modeling Approach will be used to calculate overall system performance based on the individual performance of the glass, spacer and frame components. Manufacturers will be able to add products into component databases that will be used to calculate system data.

Click here to read a Q&A with NFRC’s executive director, Jim Benney, about the progress of the CMA program.

NFRC members, click here to view the ballots for the spring meeting. Ballots are due Feb. 19.