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Above and Beyond: Windows Exceeding Energy Performance Codes Bring Host of Benefits

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Monday, April 28, 2014

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the amount of energy lost through windows represents four to five percent of total U.S. energy consumption at an annual cost of $50 billion. Yet fewer than 30 percent of commercial buildings use high-performance windows, doors, and skylights – otherwise known as fenestration.

One way building owners can save energy, facilitate sustainability, and maximize their return on investment is by requiring these products to exceed energy performance codes.  

Many people assume using more windows increases the potential for energy loss. In reality, however, the right windows actually enhance overall building performance. The judicious use of fenestration reduces energy consumption by decreasing HVAC and lighting loads while allowing natural ventilation. Furthermore, buildings with above-energy-code fenestration command higher resale value, minimize environmental impact, and improve an organization’s reputation.

High-performance fenestration also offers many other benefits. For example, multiple studies reveal that adequate daylighting improves productivity in businesses, increases sales in retail stores, facilitates learning in schools, and promotes faster healing in hospitals.

Another important -- although somewhat lesser known -- advantage of high-performance fenestration is that it helps reduce peak loads on the energy grid, decreasing stress and increasing reliability.

Exceeding Code: Good for Owners, Good for Tenants

While fenestration energy-performance codes are evolving to improve minimum standards, surpassing these standards protects owners and tenants from the unforeseen financial consequences arising from short-sighted design or construction decisions. Demanding windows, doors, and skylights that exceed energy performance codes also encourages the fenestration industry to develop products that are more efficient and to create innovative design strategies.

Moreover, building owners who demand above-energy-code fenestration demonstrate their commitment to green construction and sustainability. By sharing these energy performance ratings, owners are enabling their clients to make educated, informed decisions when buying, renting, or leasing a building. By helping their tenants minimize utility bills, owners are also helping themselves by staving off the potentially high cost of future retrofits.

Financial Advantages to Building Owners

Buildings consume about 70 percent of the electricity in the U.S. This makes it more important than ever for owners to insist on above-code energy performance from their windows, doors, and skylights. While sometimes overlooked, analyzing the value of high-performance fenestration during the integrated design process is a practical strategy that can maximize return on investment and help make our buildings greener, cleaner, and more sustainable.

Perhaps most compelling of all, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that building energy codes will produce a financial benefit to owners of nearly $2 billion annually by 2015, increasing to over $15 billion annually by 2030.

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Occupant Behavior Affects Window Performance, Overall Efficiency

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

High-performance windows, doors, and skylights can make our homes and buildings more comfortable and energy efficient, but maximizing their contribution depends on occupant behavior.

It’s easy to overlook the role people play in contributing to green building and sustainability. When we think about high-performance structures, we often focus on design, construction, and technology. With Americans spending 90 percent of their time indoors, however, the way people interact with these structures is also important for improving overall building performance.

In hot sunny climates, for instance, actions that reduce energy consumption yet sacrifice comfort are unlikely to achieve their intended results. This is because occupants generally act to override their discomfort. For example, they may draw the curtains across high-performance windows on a sunny day and turn on the lights to avoid glare.

Considering the building’s orientation during the integrated design process, however, can lead to better solutions. Planting deciduous trees or shrubs near windows and installing canopies or awnings are two good ways to harvest (free) daylight while controlling solar heat gain and glare.

Similarly, installing windows with Low-e coating can improve occupant comfort and energy efficiency. These are ideal for heat-dominated climates because they preserve visible transmittance. They also reduce solar heat gain and glare. If you need a solution for an existing home or building, window films are a good option.

Another example of building occupants acting to override their discomfort occurs during the winter. People sometimes raise the thermostat and open multiple windows so they can enjoy fresh air without getting cold.

A more effective solution is installing operable windows, which allow natural ventilation and prevent Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from accumulating. Operable windows also provide an important psychological benefit – the feeling of control over one’s environment.

The bulk of our energy consumption comes from seeking the balance among comfort, energy efficiency, and good indoor air quality. E
ncouraging more interaction between occupants and the built environment helps them better understand how their actions affect their surroundings and their utility bills.

In the future, the highest-performing buildings may not be those that initially exceed code. Instead, they may be the ones that provide an engaging environment where occupants share responsibility for managing energy consumption.

In fact, making buildings perform better depends on educated and committed occupants who proactively interact directly with the buildings they inhabit. While ever-expanding technology will continue providing new ideas, tools, and equipment for making improvements, our actions are what ultimately get the job done.

As Kathryn Janda of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University said in her
paper of the same title, “Buildings don’t use energy – people do.”

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NFRC announces call for films to students across U.S. and Canada

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) issued a call for submissions today for the NFRC 25th Anniversary Student Film Contest. The contest is part of a yearlong celebration of NFRC’s quarter-century of service to architects, builders and consumers.

 

College students in the U.S. and Canada are invited to answer the question, “Why do windows matter?” in a video production lasting no more than five minutes. NFRC will award the top three filmmakers with cash scholarships.

 

“There’s any number of ways participants can run with this,” said NFRC CEO Jim Benney. “In a way, we’re looking to these students for inspiration through their creativity and imagination. And it’s a great way for NFRC to celebrate its 25th anniversary.”

 

Entries are due by August 1, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. A panel of NFRC members will view and judge the submissions. The top three entries will be screened at NFRC’s Fall Membership Meeting on Sept. 22 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and posted to NFRC’s website, www.nfrg.org.

 

“This is an exciting new undertaking for us and will be a great way to engage students in the work we do,” said Jessica Finn, NFRC membership coordinator. “We hope participating students will see their films as an important element in promoting energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.”

 

Interested students should visit https://nfrccommunity.site-ym.com/?Filmcontest for contest information, rules, and registration.

Contact NFRC's Membership Coordinator, Jessica Finn, at 240-821-9512 with any questions.

 

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Committee Week Meeting Concludes with Hanlon Citing Success of IVP

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NFRC’s Program Director, Scott Hanlon, spoke about the success of the Independent Verification Program (IVP) during this morning’s open board meeting as the Spring Committee Week Meeting concluded.

Hanlon noted that NFRC has completed 107 studies and has 12 in progress. To date, the program has assisted with replacing 17 units.

NFRC currently plans to test 240 products during 2014.

“There have been no EPA unsuccessful tests and no issues with rating tolerances, only profile variations,” Hanlon said. “The IVP adds value to our programs and helps us better serve the public.”

Under the IVP program, products are tested to determine if their construction, performance, and components are consistent with the way they were originally simulated and tested by authorized for certification.

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NFRC Looks to Fill Volunteer Positions

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Technical Committee block concluded with a number of calls for volunteers.

NFRC LAP Manager, Dennis Anderson, is seeking those interested in working on condensation resistance ratings.

He is also looking for volunteers to test Window/Therm7 to facilitate its full adoption, alleviating the need for LBNL to support W/T6 and WT7.

Toward the end of the session, NFRC Program Director, Scott Hanlon asked for volunteers for the Residential Component Based Calculation Taskgroup.

Committee Chair, Mike Thoman, concluded the block by pointing out the need to fill the committee’s vice chair position.

Anyone interested in serving in these volunteer positions should contact their NFRC staff liaison.

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Technical Committee: Recap of Morning Session

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NFRC’s Senior Program Manager, Ray McGowan, discusses the highlights of this morning’s Technical Committee proceedings.

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Newly-Elected Chair Leads NFRC, Peabody Ducks

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NFRC Chair, Jeff Baker, served as Honorary Duckmaster yesterday, escorting the Peabody Ducks along the red carpet to their penthouse home on the Plantation Roof via the lobby elevator.

According to The Peabody Hotel website, the time-honored tradition of the March of the Peabody Ducks began in the early 1930s.

At 11 a.m. each morning, the ducks march from their rooftop home known as Royal Duck Palace along a red carpet to the
tune of John Philip Sousa’s “King Cotton March” to a marble fountain at the center of the hotel’s lobby. At 5 p.m., the procession reverses and the ducks retire for the evening.

When off-duty they live in the Royal Duck Palace, a $200,000 marble and glass structure that includes its own fountain.  

More about the Peabody ducks


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Memphis Welcomes NFRC

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Monday, March 24, 2014

Paul Young, Administrator for the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability, told the NFRC membership today that learning about the organization has given him a new angle for reaching out to those who can benefit the most from improved sustainability.

Young addressed the group, saying he was unfamiliar with NFRC until he found out its conference was coming to Memphis. He quickly pointed out, however, that learning about NFRC’s mission will make his office more productive.  

 “As a government official, I’m always looking for new ways to help people better understand the importance of making our communities more sustainable -- ways that resonate,” Young said. “Discovering your ratings program has given me a new way to do that.”

One program Young said can benefit from improved sustainability is the city’s Green Prisons Initiative, which involves enhancing the energy efficiency of the prisons and training prisoners for careers in sustainability once they are released.

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Jeff Baker announced as new NFRC Chair

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Monday, March 24, 2014

Outgoing Chair, Steve Strawn, introduced Jeff Baker (left) as the new Chair of the Board during today’s opening session.

“I’d like to thank the board for electing me…,” Baker said. “I’ve been around for a long time, and I very much appreciate this.”

Baker praised the NFRC membership saying the people who volunteer to serve NFRC are the lifeblood of the organization and the industry.

“Without your help we could not advance our mission to provide fair, accurate, and credible energy performance ratings for fenestration products,” Baker told the group.

Contact Tom Herron with any questions about this week's meeting proceedings.

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NFRC Announces Special 25th Anniversary Activities

Posted By Tom Herron, National Fenestration Rating Council, Monday, March 24, 2014

NFRC’s CEO, Jim Benney, announced two special initiatives to help celebrate the organization’s silver anniversary this year.

During the opening session of the 2014 Spring Committee Week Meeting in Memphis, Tenn., Benney discussed plans for the
NFRC 25th Anniversary Builder Insert and the NFRC 25th Anniversary Student Film Contest.

The NFRC 25th Anniversary Builder Insert will be a special section in Builder magazine’s July issue.

Builder is one of the top magazines for the home building industry, reaching more than 100,000 readers every month.

The insert will consist of editorial content from NFRC as well as advertorial and advertisement content from NFRC members.

Ad space in the insert will be available to NFRC members at a discount of more than 50 percent off regular rate-card prices. Benney informed meeting participants that NFRC and Builder will issue a joint letter soon with full details.

The second sponsorship opportunity Benney announced is a student film contest, designed to creatively highlight NFRC’s role in helping homeowners, architects, and others make informed choices about fenestration to meet their energy efficiency goals.

NFRC will screen the top three films at the fall 2014 Membership Meeting and post them to NFRC’s website. NFRC will send more information to members about this contest and special low-cost sponsorship opportunities following the spring meeting.

Contact Tom Herron with any questions about this week's meeting proceedings.

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