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NFRC Report Captures Potential for Energy-Efficient Commercial Windows

With architects, builders, and manufacturers facing growing pressure to ensure that windows, doors and skylights reduce energy use, the National Fenestration Rating Council is releasing a report on the potential benefits of high-efficiency windows in commercial buildings. 

NFRC establishes energy-performance ratings for windows, doors, and skylights, which are referred to as fenestration.  The study, funded by NFRC and in part by the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was conducted by research firm Guidehouse to assess the opportunities for energy-efficient commercial fenestration on a national scale.    

From a thorough review of the current commercial building market in the U.S., the study found a significant need for energy-efficient façade and window systems. However, the industry isn’t fully aware of the benefits of high-efficiency windows including cost savings, reduced energy use, and occupant health and comfort. For widespread adoption of a commercial fenestration ratings program, the certification process must be simple, credible, and standardized in such a way that it does not delay the project, according to the findings.  This can be accomplished through a new commercial certification program being developed by NFRC. 

Currently under consideration, NFRC is expanding its options for participating in its commercial program. These changes will make it easier to maximize energy efficiency in the built environment and reduce the time and effort required for testing, certification and compliance. 

A building’s energy efficiency can only be accurately measured when its commercial fenestration ratings are included in the calculations. Accurate ratings help communities set energy-use targets and estimate the savings potential when using energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights.   

“New York City, Washington, D.C., and other localities are implementing strong energy-efficiency mandates. The commercial sector, in particular, will need to adjust to stronger regulations for new facilities and complicated retrofits for existing structures,” says NFRC CEO Deb Callahan. “NFRC’s more than 30 years of fair, accurate, and credible ratings can help make this possible. Our certification provides peace of mind for building owners and occupants because they can be sure that the windows in their building contributes to a healthy workspace.” 

To provide commercial projects with the accuracy, flexibility, and speed they need to generate ratings and ensure code compliance, the new commercial program would offer two pathways to certification: one for heavily customized projects and another for projects with more repeat-use materials.  

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 established NFRC as the official rating council for fenestration products. NFRC has helped fenestration achieve one of the highest code compliance rates in the entire residential built environment. Yet the nature of commercial projects creates additional challenges, with customized cut glass and different suppliers handling frames and other aspects of the building envelope. The new program can accommodate the nuance and detail of a commercial building project while still ensuring compliance with more stringent building efficiency guidelines.