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CMA provides benefits for Bay State architects

Earlier this year, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) launched the Component Modeling Approach (CMA), a new procedure for rating and certifying the energy performance of windows, the storefront, curtainwall, skylights and doors in nonresidential buildings. CMA simplifies and standardizes the performance-rating process, combining NFRC-approved components of a fenestration product—glazing, frame and spacer—to generate a rating for the entire product. It also allows Bay State architects and other design professionals around the country to easily compare the energy performance of fenestration systems.

Massachusetts is among many states whose energy codes for commercial building projects reference NFRC procedures. Both NFRC 100 (Procedure for Determining Fenestration Product Thermal Properties) and NFRC 200 (Procedure for Determining Solar Heat Gain Coefficients at Normal Incidence) are required by the Massachusetts Basic Building Code, Chapter 13, which references the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2007. CMA uses NFRC 100 and NFRC 200 to rate the energy performance of nonresidential fenestration products and systems.

National model energy codes, such as the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1, reference NFRC rating procedures because, as an independent, nonprofit organization, NFRC provides fair, accurate and credible energy ratings for fenestration products.

CMA’s design benefits

CMA enables energy-efficient building design because it helps architects:

  • Design more efficient fenestration systems
  • Virtually create fenestration products or systems using the CMA Software Tool (CMAST) to compare overall energy performance of different designs
  • Determine how a fenestration system affects the overall energy consumption of a building by exporting data to building-energy-analysis software tools

To identify the specific benefits of CMA for architects and other building professionals, NFRC commissioned the CMA Simulation Study, released this past September by the Heschong Mahone Group.

The study, based on buildings in California, found that CMA provided:

  • A maximum increase of 11.7 percent additional energy-compliance margins for fenestration products compared with other available options in California
  • Greater benefits from above-code incentive programs that offer additional financial incentives to building owners when efficiency exceeds minimum thresholds

In addition to these benefits, the study implies that CMA offers several peripheral benefits, such as the potential for higher LEED scores. A mandatory LEED requirement is compliance with ASHRAE 90.1-2004, which strictly requires NFRC 100 and NFRC 200. LEED applicants may be able to significantly increase their scores by using CMA to select and specify windows with above-code energy performance.

Because CMA provides the most accurate fenestration-performance values, NFRC anticipates that design and construction professionals who use CMA will be able to calculate more accurate thermal-load estimates, which could lead to more accurate HVAC load modeling and sizing.

CMA’s certification program and software are remarkable tools, simplifying the process of rating nonresidential products, reducing time and costs, and potentially making everyone’s job a little easier. To learn more about CMA or NFRC, or to obtain a copy of the CMA study, please contact John Lewis or visit

John Lewis is NFRC’s director of new business programs.