Q&A: Jim Benney
Sahely Mukerji, managing editor and news editor, Glass Magazine, talks to the executive
director of the National Fenestration Rating Council, Greenbelt, Md.
What is the status of outside development support funding for the Component Model Approach program?
We got approval for $200,000 from the Department of Energy. Also got in-kind support from S. California Edison CTAC. [Edison CTAC in partnership with NFRC hosted a training workshop in Irwindale, Calif., Aug. 20, to discuss among other things, the benefits of CMAST, the new CMA software, and how the component modeling approach works.] They're providing the facility, the distribution of publications and sponsoring the meetings.
Isn't this training program premature given that the technical procedures for frames and spacers have not been finalized and approved?
It's important that the software gets as far along as possible. It's easier to tweak the software. The technical procedures for frames and spacers should be resolved by the November meeting; if not, by the next meeting in March.
It's been noted that NFRC board members don't seem to engage in the task group and committee work and wait to take positions behind closed doors at the board level. How do you respond?
Interesting suppositions. I don't believe it's correct. Board members actively participate in the committees and sub-committees. Joe Hayden's [chair] there every day, Steve Strong, [chair of rating committee], is there every day, Jeff Baker chairs the tech committee, and they're there every day.
What is the reason for NFRC's policy that if you miss meetings you lose the right to vote at the committee level the next time you attend?
The reasoning is to make sure that if you're going to be voting on a subject matter you have to attend the last meeting so you're up-to-date on the subject matter and can make an educated decision when voting.
What's the latest on NFRC's efforts to reach out to the other stakeholders such as architects, developers and contractors?
A number of things going on: we give continuing education seminars to architects; we also tell them about CMA. I gave a talk at AIA in May. Also, we're working on a marketing program. It will encourage early adopters--manufacturers, frame suppliers, extruders and contractors such as installers--of the CMA. We work with people in the utilities. I'm hoping we'll have incentives for the early adopters in 2009. Incentives such as utilities will provide upfront money for validation testing and NFRC testing. NFRC will provide a 40 percent discounted rate, free access to the software tool for 30 days. This will be beneficial to the industry. If you do it once, you'll never have to do it again. The one-time expense can be capitalized for years.
The early adopters will be industry folks who sell in California; Title 24 will require CMA. Visionary companies, such as Traco, Arcadia will also join. Contractors in California will be impacted first. However, the vast majority's going to wait and watch how it pans out. The manufacturers are not going to jump in until there's the need. They might use the bidding tool right away, but whether they get the label certificate, we'll see.
How do you respond to the commercial manufacturers feeling of distrust as a cause for extra policing of their involvement in the CMA program? Is this justifiable?
I have a different take on it. It's not distrust. It's the development of a program to ensure credibility and to make sure that the info that goes out is fair, accurate and credible. There's a still a lot of information used in building design based on center of glass, and you really need to design by the performance of the system. It's not distrust. It's free and available access to profit performance. This will help everybody access to product performance. This will break the little towers of info that people set up and instead provide a highway of information. It's not distrust, it's a different way of doing business.
What is the current anticipated cost for the CMA software tool CMAST?
The software will charge the manufacturer to store data, to use the software, for label certificates, for program dispense, for lab fees and for IA [independent agency] fees. The IA fees will be set by the IAs. The anticipated cost for CMAST was presented in Chicago a year ago.
Some commercial construction industry members say that while the software tool could become a valuable resource, rating and certification by NFRC is still not being demanded by the developers and design professionals. Do you anticipate allowing for wide spread use of the tool without the requirement for NFRC rating and certification?
Yes, I believe the software tool will be valuable for bidding even without the label certification.
Is the NFRC board working on estimated costs for rating and certification of commercial fenestration applications? If so, when will they be released to the membership and public?
It's all in the board communique from June 2007.