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New Vice Chair Tony Cinnamon talks about his involvement with NFRC and what he hopes to bring to the organization.

Posted By Adriana Vargas, National Fenestration Rating Council, Tuesday, May 26, 2020

As a one-time drummer in his high school and college marching band it seems fitting that the first NFRC meeting Tony Cinnamon attended was in New Orleans, a city known for its jazz music, parades, and iconic anthem “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Fast forward 10 years, Tony now is NFRC board vice chair and leads the Regulatory Affairs Committee, although he said he still fantasizes about being a big-time studio drummer. Until then, however, he’s an architect with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates specializing in building facades, exterior wall systems, and fenestration systems. Over the course of his career, Tony has presented at seminars domestically and internationally on fenestration-related topics including typical window problems, glass and glazing failures, and testing and repair of window and curtain wall systems.

As the lone practicing architect on the board, Tony brings a unique perspective because he sees firsthand how the NFRC ratings are applied in real-world settings and, unfortunately, they are often misunderstood. During his time on the board, he would like to help NFRC move past the minutia of data and decimal points to better highlight the value the ratings provide for consumers and specifiers who want to maximize the comfort and energy efficiency in their buildings.

As Tony begins his first year as vice chair, Michelle Blackston, senior director of communications and marketing, spoke with him about things he’d like to accomplish while in this role.

Since you’ve been involved with NFRC as a member and now as board vice chair, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen within NFRC? What do you want to continue and what do you hope to bring to the organization in this capacity?

One of things that I’ve noticed since Deb Callahan has served as CEO is there has been a big push to get a greater diversity of people involved. When I first joined, it was really the same 15-20 people in different positions and Deb deserves credit for getting more voices heard. As a board member and vice chair, I’ve always seen myself as on the other side in that NFRC is mainly populated with manufacturers, test labs, and inspection agencies. I’m an architect and I see how the NFRC standards get used and misused when [architects] don’t understand them. My emphasis is on education for both sides and we need to know what the architect and the specifier are seeing.

Also, the membership has grown, and this growth is a testament to the organization. I see different people volunteering for things and making comments at meetings. The biggest change is the overall impact that it’s had on the membership and more people feel comfortable. With that, people are invested and we’re more inclusive of people who aren’t involved in rating windows. 

How has your membership and involvement with NFRC helped you professionally and stay abreast of the fenestration industry as it evolves?

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates has 750 people in the company, and I’ve been able to pass along information on windows and curtain walls through our internal knowledge sharing program. These technical resource groups are a source for people who work in window and curtain wall projects to post questions. We would always get a lot of questions about NFRC’s condensation rating vs. American Architectural Manufacturing Association (AAMA) Condensation Resistance Factor Tool. NFRC enabled me to answer those questions because I had firsthand knowledge of the standard and the surrounding discussions. Also, it’s worth noting that NFRC is working on a new standard – the Condensation Index– that is much more user friendly and understandable.

Also, one of the ways the fenestration industry has evolved is there are so many more areas of expertise now. Whether it’s sustainability or energy performance or air infiltration or acoustics, there are a variety of niche areas of expertise in the fenestration industry, it’s staggering. By necessity you end up with more people involved in the process and in specific areas of the process. Maybe they don’t care about visible transmittance, but they care about solar heat gain. And that helps with the growth and expansion of the industry.

What lessons have you learned from being involved in NFRC that you would share with young professionals just getting started in the fenestration industry? And where will the industry be in 10-20 years?

I would tell a young professional don’t be afraid to talk to people in the organization, which was my issue for the first few years I was involved. It’s so much better when you talk to people, ask questions. You would be surprised how many people are willing to share. At one meeting, I went to NFRC program director Steve Urich and asked him to walk me through the commercial program. And he did. That enabled me to be engaged in the process. If you don’t know something, ask someone about it. This is important because windows seem to change almost daily whether it’s about the material or the glass or the framing material. Advancements in components and how they are used are going to be widely available.

NFRC is adapting to these new technologies and we’re already experiencing in the task groups, where we’re talking about Vacuum Insulated Glass (VIG). One of NFRC’s challenges will be to keep up with the technology and material changes that we are going to see. I think we can and will with the way the organization is structured because there are always opportunities to start looking at new technologies and advancements in the industry.

In the commercial realm, we’re just starting to build that program now and that will to be one of the biggest changes for NFRC. I see this as an area of great potential that’s yet to come and NFRC will have a big role.

If you could do anything now outside your current profession or role, what would you do?

When I was kid, I played the drums. One of my fantasies is to be a studio drummer. I played in the marching band and drumline in high school and college. I was a section leader for a few years. After college, I taught for nearly 20 years at a band camp for high school students in Illinois. It was a lot of fun.

But now my love is running triathlons. I usually compete at the sprint or Olympic distance and I’ve competed in two, half Iron Man triathlons, which is a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run. For quite a few years, I ran marathons and then I started riding the bike and really enjoyed that. I competed in my first triathlon in 2015, the training isn’t nearly as repetitive as running a marathon. Now, I meet up with a neighborhood group that rides every Saturday. It was an easy transition to triathlons. 

Tags:  board of directors  fenestration  leadership  technologies 

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