Green building leads to many benefits for the developer, property owner, and tenant. The economic savings are commonly known; a building that uses resources more efficiently can reduce operating costs. However, as green building consultant and former U.S. Green Building Council board member Jerry Yudelson argues so well in his 2009 essay, “The Business Case for Green Buildings,” for Union Real Estate Investment AG in Germany: “Most people look only at the economic benefit of savings on energy costs, neglecting the mounting evidence that green buildings return higher rents, offer faster leasing, secure greater occupancy and generate higher resale value.”
The same is true for high performing windows and other fenestration products; many people overlook the many benefits of energy-efficient fenestration. For example, buildings using high performing products tend to be more attractive to buyers and renters. Buildings that let in an abundant amount of natural light not only reduce the level of artificial lighting requirements, but have been associated with increased productivity and decreased health issues for occupants.
NFRC Ratings: A Tool to Compare Fenestration
The question remains – how do you choose high performance fenestration? The non-profit National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) provides trusted, third-party energy ratings for both residential and commercial fenestration. If you’ve ever been to the window section of your local home improvement store, or a window dealer showroom, you’ve probably seen NFRC’s residential window labels. These arm consumers with important data on how each window performs. Similar to the Miles-Per-Gallon stickers on new cars, they allow consumers to compare product performance and make educated product choices.
The non-residential design and construction industry also depends on NFRC’s independent ratings. NFRC developed the Component Modeling Approach (CMA) to easily compare the energy performance of non-residential windows that are to be assembled or built on the project site. Using a specialized software program, CMA allows users to create a product virtually using online performance data from pre-approved glazing, frame, and spacer components. The program calculates preliminary whole-product energy performance ratings. Users can change components to compare performance. Once the final fenestration product or system is selected, CMA users can have NFRC certify the ratings.
Continue reading: The benefits of CMA [pagebreak]
The Benefits of CMA
CMA provides many benefits to the designer, builder, developer, and property owner. For example, CMA simplifies code compliance. Once the preliminary ratings generated by CMA have been certified, NFRC issues a single CMA Label Certificate listing the energy performance ratings for all NFRC-rated products on a given project. This document can be used to demonstrate that the ratings meet energy code requirements.
However, CMA’s benefits go beyond demonstrating code compliance. The program can be used to select high performance products to help meet energy efficiency or daylighting goals. During the bidding process, design and construction professionals can even use CMA to demonstrate that the selected fenestration meets energy code and project specifications.
CMA’s reliable ratings can even lead to more accurate whole-building energy calculations and can provide an increase in energy compliance margins. A 2010 study in California compared CMA’s values to the California Energy Commission’s default and equation-based values, running simulations on eight building models under conditions similar to each of California's 16 climate zones. The study found that fenestration modeled with CMA could provide an increase in energy compliance margins up to 11.7 percent over the default calculation methods.
A Trusted Source
NFRC consistently provides consumers and building professionals with fair, accurate, and credible fenestration ratings information. For more than 20 years, the organization has served as the nation’s leading energy ratings and certification program for windows, doors, skylights, and other fenestration. Both the International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1 reference NFRC procedures, and to qualify for the ENERGY STAR® Windows program, a window must first be certified by NFRC.To learn more about NFRC, please visit www.nfrc.org.
Tom Herron, LEED Green Associate, is NFRC’s senior manager, communications and marketing. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Images courtesy of NFRC and flickr user Gerry Balding.