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For the past thirty years, NFRC has acquired countless members who have used their varying expertise to strengthen NFRC’s mission of advancing continuous improvement of windows, doors, and skylights. Throughout this series, members such as Ben West will be highlighted to showcase the innovations that they brought forth to the organization. In order to celebrate an anniversary as significant as thirty years, NFRC has decided that it’s crucial to acknowledge members whom have helped make this accomplishment possible.

Six years ago, Ben West attended his first NFRC membership meeting in Portland, OR. Fast forward to the 2018 meeting in Albuquerque, NM, and West, now a member of the NFRC, has seen the organization expand priorities to include the needs of the commercial building sector. Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope is the leading supplier of building materials designed, engineered, tested and manufactured by the same company. West works alongside architects and engineers to ensure the exterior doors, windows, exterior curtain wall, storefront and skylights meet performance standards in conjunction with the overall building envelope assemblies. 

While energy efficiency ratings have been the cornerstone of the NFRC for several years, West is excited for what the future holds. At meetings West discusses the latest developments in fenestration, including 3D FEA analyses and simulations that will eventually transform the design of building envelopes. Moving forward, West is optimistic about the advancements in the industry, and has no doubt the NFRC will continue to be a leader in the space.

Evolving trends in fenestration are moving the industry beyond energy performance ratings. Architects, developers and building owners of 60-story towers, for example, want to make sure they build better buildings from the start. According to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, making the health and safety of the building occupants a crucial topic. In the long run, using healthier building materials result in better mood and improves overall health.

“Windows absolutely play a role in our health,” West said.

In its 30 years, NFRC has made strides to better understand how a buildings’ windows, doors and skylights contribute to its occupants’ health and safety. However, West says there is more work to be done. Informing facilities managers about the health effects of fenestration products will likely be an ongoing topic of discussion in 2019. 

 


 

In the early 1990s, using new Intercept® spacer technology, GED Integrated Solutions, Inc. (GED) and PPG Industries Inc, today known as Vitro Architectural Glass, defined the phrase warm edge spacer as “a spacer that resists moisture and prohibits conductivity around the perimeter of a window.” The phrase, derived from Intercept spacer materials’ thermal performance, represents high-performance products such as GED’s revolutionary Intercept 2.5 Spacer Fabrication System and ULTRA Stainless Steel spacer technology. 

NFRC’s ratings for the thermal performance of window products and the high ratings for ENERGY STAR® level certification ensures GED customers are equipped with the best spacer materials and process equipment to achieve and maintain ENERGY STAR ratings for their products.

For over 30 years, GED’s Intercept technology has continued to advance, ensuring that the GED Intercept Spacer system meets and exceeds NFRC standards.

By reaching ENERGY STAR standards with the Intercept ULTRA stainless-steel spacer technology over tinplate spacers (which are not ENERGY STAR certified), GED has proven our commitment to remaining a leading force in the warm edge spacer marketplace. GED is proud to provide the technology, innovation and products to bolster ENERGY STAR ratings through continued, high-ranking performance tests measured by the NFRC. 

Intercept is a registered trademark owned by Vitro. ENERGY STAR is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 


 

Over the past 30 years, NFRC has cultivated a diverse group of members within the fenestration industry. One of its newer members, Amelie Kogovsek, who joined in 2013, is the owner of a family-run Canadian small business, Maxam Marketing.

Located in Quebec, Maxam Marketing helps Canadian fenestration manufacturers obtain their ENERGY STAR certification. As a full-service company, Amelie assists manufacturers with the paperwork at the beginning of the process and then provides guidance during fenestration testing and coordinates documents between manufacturers. And U.S. technical specifications for windows, doors and skylights are not the same as those in Canada. Maxam Marketing offers an ENERGY STAR vendor and staff training program to educate companies about the expectations and requirements of the process. With a list of more than a 100 manufacturers, Amelie has a big job as a one-woman show.

For the past six years, Amelie has applied the information from the NFRC membership meetings into her business to help her clients – and her business – succeed. As NFRC’s membership continues to grow, Amelie, and other like her, are an example how the membership continues to diversify. 

 


 

Canada-based Vinyl Window Designs started as a small-market producer of windows in 1986 and since then has grown and increased sales in the northern region of the United States. The company’s products have been certified by NFRC since Feb. 16, 2001, which has helped the company grow. The NFRC brand is well-known and when consumers see the NFRC logo, they know to trust the products sold by the company.

The NFRC website and individual labels help consumers understand the U-Factor, Air Leakage, Visible Transmittance, and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient ratings for their windows. When Vinyl Window Designs customers receive their window with the well-recognized NFRC label, they know that their product has been tested by a third party. Vinyl Window Designs is proud to be a part of the new FenStar™ Certification Program and that NFRC ensures products meet the stringent standards of the ENERGY STAR specifications. Congratulations NFRC on 30 years as the only fair, accurate and credible organization rating the energy-efficiency of fenestration products.

 


 

 

After more than 16 years of working together, Marc LaFrance of the Department of Energy (DOE) has an insider’s perspective on how NFRC has influenced the fenestration industry. LaFrance is the Advanced Technology and Energy Policy Manger at DOE. He’s an active NFRC participant, attending membership meetings to share findings and insight from the DOE with members, leadership and board members.

LaFrance says NFRC is the driving force behind the residential fenestration market using the ENERGY STAR label and incorporating building codes into the ratings process. The energy performance standard set by NFRC is the foundation for enforcing public policy and giving the industry a target to reach, he said.

“If you don’t have the measuring stick, you can’t have voluntary measures, you can’t have mandatory measures,” LaFrance said. Window compliance is extremely high and that’s thanks to NFRC.

For more than two decades, DOE through its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has maintained the software tools used for NFRC ratings, highlighting the benefits and importance of the longstanding working relationship between DOE and NFRC members and staff.

“The windows of today use 1/3 the energy than they did 30 years ago,” LaFrance said. This is because of how NFRC brought the industry together to improve window performance.

Recently DOE wants to increase energy efficiency in building construction. LaFrance adds that NFRC will help inform stakeholders on how to do this.

I would say NFRC served a great role in educating building code officials on what is an NFRC label and how do I look for an NFRC label,” LaFrance said. To go one step further NFRC could focus on how we drive the market to high performance and advocate for the consumer.”

 


 

Mason Douglas Fritz is a product designer at EFCO Corporation working on fenestration product design, thermal engineering, and insulating glazing (IG) unit manufacturing. Fritz also is a professional engineer, licensed in Missouri, and has NFRC certifications for fenestration product simulations and label-certificate production.

Fritz says that although NFRC rates only parts of a building and not the building itself, it could explore branching into the building envelope to help maximize the energy efficiency of buildings. “The envelope is a perfect opportunity for NFRC. Their current CMA software would probably be able to do most of that.”

Fritz also said that larger building projects ought to use a label certificate for code compliance, but projects that need building-energy modeling might be better off with project-specific size configurations.

Fritz’s work focuses on maximizing energy efficiency throughout the lifetime of the structure and keeping energy costs low in buildings such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings. Hospitals, in particular, are looking for ways to improve occupant health through green building.

As an NFRC task group chair, Fritz credits NFRC for providing the framework to help him and his fellow team members reach their energy-efficiency goals on the job. “I want NFRC to be the best it can be. I want us to provide what our customers need as much as we can,” Fritz said.

 


 

Coming from a scientific research background in optical properties, Tom Culp has evolved into an NFRC mainstay that wears many different hats.

Culp’s early NFRC meetings involved the study Low-E coatings and how those fit into the overall window ratings. He also used the opportunity to meet fellow researchers and engineers from around the country, including employees from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“With all the technical names, it was exciting to meet in person and talk about nerdy stuff,” Culp joked.

From his early days on committees debating different types of Low-E coatings, Culp also saw how the technical and business sides of the industry interact and the impact NFRC has on the fenestration market. Now, as the owner of Birch Point Consulting LLC, Culp also represents national glass and aluminum groups and advises clients on energy codes and green building standards.

As his career has evolved, Culp still finds great value in NFRC participation to meet with colleagues and get a wide range of perspectives on fenestration. NFRC meetings help him stay on top of the latest building industry discussions for his many responsibilities. Having worked on CMA, serving as an ex-officio board member from 2007 to 2016, or assisting with other programs, he still sees potential growth for the organization.

Culp pointed to a recent Department of Energy study on home energy code compliance, which found windows have the highest compliance rate of anything else it researched.

“NFRC has done a fantastic job on the residential side," Culp said.  “The commercial side has always been more challenging because it is a different business structure, but there are significant opportunities to improve the program to also serve that side of the market.”

 


 

Bipin Shah has been actively involved with NFRC since the very beginning and played a key role in NFRC’s growth as it marks its 30th anniversary.

A former NFRC employee and now a current member of its Board of Directors, early on Shah worked at an NFRC approve lab at Fenestration Testing Laboratory, Ontario California and as expert that helped establish NFRC’s fenestration testing internationally. These testing procedures make it possible for businesses and the public to rely upon NFRC’s product ratings.

Shah is currently the president of WinBuild, Inc. in Fairfax, VA, a privately-owned small business that provides building energy efficiency analysis and solutions. He is involved in government policy and infrastructure, business-to-business match making, energy ratings and building codes development. After earning a B.S. and an M.S. in mechanical engineering, Shah has spent more than 30 years working on energy efficiency research and development. He is a CEM-Certified Energy Manager, CBEP- Certified Business Energy Professional, CDSM - Certified Demand-Side Management Professional and an NFRC Certified simulator.

Those impressive credentials allowed Shah to jumpstart NFRC’s testing program, guide its board of directors, and provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to new NFRC participants.

Shah has worked on the NFRC mission across the nations. From coast to coast and internationally Shah has instilled the importance of fact-based science within the fenestration ratings system.

As more new people continue to join the organization, long-time members such as Shah offer mentorship and valuable institutional knowledge.

“As important it is to have new and young members get involved with NFRC, I want to continue to participate and offer a lending hand. NFRC is an organization that is so dear to my heart,” Shah said.

 


 

As NFRC gets ready to enter its fourth decade, newer faces have steadily joined its ranks to bring in a fresh perspective and help keep the organization looking forward. Erin Koss, an engineer at PGT, is a part of that newer generation.

Now with three years of NFRC involvement on her resume, Erin discussed how participation has expanded her professional horizons.

“It’s very helpful to know this process and see what could be coming down the line” from my employer’s perspective, she said. “It’s a nice growth opportunity too.”

Erin is an NFRC-certified simulator and participates in Residential Component Based Calculation work. “I’m starting to branch out a bit,” she said in regards to her NFRC participation. Maintaining her certification has also helped Erin keep up-to-date on things and apply those techniques to her testing work at PGT.

NFRC has helped her not just with technical education, but also with networking and the development of other career skills. Erin periodically touches base with NFRC staff with questions about programs testing and certification requirements.

She also participates in the Volunteer Leaders Network training sessions. Erin credits the VLN with testing her own professional boundaries and pave a career development path for herself.

“Great opportunity to hear about proper procedures and etiquette,” Erin said. “These are things you can take and use in growing your career.”

No longer a new face at NFRC, she gave one piece of advice for new attendees to get the most out of what NFRC has to offer: “Definitely don’t be afraid to reach out to others, ask questions.”

 


 

NFRC’s three decades of success have a lot to do with longtime members and staff building the foundation. But it also helps to bring in new perspectives along the way to keep things moving forward and progressing.

Tom Barnett, NFRC’s senior director of programs, fits into the latter category. Before joining NFRC three years ago, Barnett led product research and development efforts at Georgia Pacific and Masco. Although new to work in a membership organization, his years of R&D experience and understanding of fenestration products made for an easier transition.

While the mission at NFRC is different than the private sector, Barnett understands what manufacturers and product developers go through to meet the specifications and rating requirements established by NFRC and other organizations.

“I looked at this role as a different type of product development,” Barnett said. “It’s more service related, but my familiarity of building product industry has been helpful.”

Energy efficiency demands will likely continue to increase, though some jurisdictions will move faster than others.

“We serve many members who sell products in the United States and Canada, and right now the Canadian government is moving faster [than the U.S.] on fenestration product requirements,” he said. “These two countries are a little bit out of sync on fenestration standards, and that will be a challenge to work through.”

That challenge also creates an opportunity. With states and cities pushing more aggressive energy efficiency standards for the building envelope, policymakers and businesses will greatly benefit from NFRC’s expertise and 30 years of fair, accurate and credible ratings.

“I think that’ll be an opportunity for NFRC to shine,” Barnett said. “NFRC has a lot of great assets, especially all of our window data. Whole building modeling is really becoming more the standard, so having the data on fenestration products that go into a building is becoming more and more high value.”

 


 

Joe Hayden ended up in the fenestration business by chance, but he’s had an impressive and long-lasting impact on the National Fenestration Rating Council through his career.

A graduate of South Dakota State University, Hayden first worked for a lawn & garden equipment company. When that firm decided to move to a different state, Hayden went looking for a new opportunity to stay local, and that’s when he discovered a job opening with Pella. Hayden has worked there since 1988, first doing lab work and testing equipment design, before gradually taking on other roles, including regulatory affairs.

Hayden, who attended his first NFRC conference in 1996 in Minneapolis, recognizes the important role NFRC can play as the demand for energy efficient fenestration products continues to increase.

“The regulatory affairs landscape is always changing,” he said. “It differs from state to state or even county to county.”

He added, “There’s going to continue to be more and more demand for energy efficient products, and [NFRC is] the constant measuring stick, comparing products from A to B to C.”

Among his years of experience, Hayden also served as NFRC board chair from 2007-10. In that time, NFRC’s core mission and the motivation of members has remained the same.

“There’s a strong desire to do the right thing for NFRC and the public. There can be passionate discussions, but that’s healthy. Everyone wants to get it right.”

Other things have changed. In particular, Hayden noted the expansion of NFRC’s staff and in-house expertise. That’s given the board the flexibility to focus on the big picture.

“Over time, staff has become more involved and the board is less tactical and more about directing things,” Hayden said. That’s a very positive change.”

While NFRC has accomplished a lot in its first 30 years, Hayden knows there are plenty of opportunities and challenges ahead, including implementation of the RCBC program and expansion of NFRC’s commercial fenestration activities.

As NFRC embarks on new endeavors, the bolstered staff and dedicated volunteers that made the first 30 years a success will continue to make NFRC a success. It’s a unique organization that brings together different stakeholders not just to network, but also to push toward one goal: fair, accurate and credible ratings that guide improvements in fenestration products and protect the interests of consumers.

“In the marketplace, our companies compete strongly, but in [the NFRC] arena, we think of ourselves as all being on the same team.”

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