Building owners' association weighs in on nonresidential rating program
Members of the National Fenestration Rating Council of Silver Spring, Md., have been meeting for years to develop a rating program for nonresidential fenestration products and systems. However, members of the design community, and building owners and managers, have been largely absent throughout this process.
Ron Burton, vice president of advocacy and research for BOMA International, a Washington, D.C., association representing building owners and managers, expressed his concern about the lack of participation from these parties during NFRC’s Summer Meeting that ran July 24-27 in Minneapolis.
The “NFRC has not heard the voices of the design community, the contractors, my guys—the owners and managers—all the people in that chain,” Burton says. The NFRC leaders “need to be sure that they’re speaking to [building owners’] needs. … I’m not sure they’re asking the right people the right questions.”
Greg Carney, technical director for the Glass Association of North America in Topeka, Kan., recommends NFRC seek participation from the American Institute of Architects of Washington, D.C., and of the Construction Specifications Institute of Alexandria, Va.
"[NFRC] needs to get someone—maybe a staffer at AIA or at CSI—to give us their opinions and provide feedback," Carney says. The ratings "will have a difficult time being recognized and accepted if [these parties] haven’t been part of the process."
Jim Benney, executive director of NFRC, agrees that participation remains critical for the success of the Component Modeling Approach. “If everyone has a say and feels that they have been heard, then they’ll become part of the solution,” he says. “We need to bring people into the process so that there are supporters of the system.”
Burton worries about the cost of the current CMA for nonresidential ratings. “Whatever NFRC does needs to be practical for the industry,” he says. “Give us something that’s useful, but keep the costs down.”
Benney faces cost concerns from participants on all sides of the construction process. He says NFRC members work through several ideas that limit costs and allow for shared fees, so that one party will not end up with the brunt of the cost.
For example, users of the computer network could pay for access to system ratings, and component manufacturers could pay to have their products put into the databases, he says.
“We’re going to set up a system that is equitable and fair and doesn’t overburden anyone,” Benney says. “It’s going to cost something. Our programs will obviously cost money to build software and a databases for people to access. … But it’s not going to be so expensive that it will put industry out of business.”