Economic Outlook, Code Proposals Top AAMA Agenda in Minneapolis

June 2, 2009
Meetings & Events

Discussions of upcoming code changes and an economic forecast kicked off the American Architectural Manufacturers Association National Summer Conference which began Sunday and concludes today.  Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO, noted during the opening general session that “despite the challenging economy, 24 new members have joined AAMA since February.” The association gained seven new member companies since February.

The challenging economy may be bottoming out and starting to grow in the next six months, according to recent indicators, said Bill Greiner, executive vice president, chief investment officer and manager for the Trust Investment Division of UMB. “We think the economy is gaining traction. When you have this meeting next year, you’re going to be in a much better mood,” he told attendees. “For the time being, the worst is probably behind us.”

Greiner described this downturn as a structural recession. “The economy coming out [of the recession] is going to look different,” he said. “It’s our view that savings rates are going to rise back to where they were historically. … Interest rates will also be rising over the next 10 years, but not necessarily dramatically."

The housing market should rebound in the near future, he also projected. The housing affordability index is at its highest point since 1970. “As housing become cheap enough, sales will gain traction. Inventory levels will start to correct,” he said. “A year from now, the housing market will be much more vibrant, maybe not in housing value, but in housing starts.”

Unemployment will likely peak in the fourth quarter, and consumer spending is likely to pick up. “People are under the impression that the worst is behind us,” Greiner said.  He cautioned, however, that the U.S. economy won’t be out of the woods once the recession ends. He predicts that the federal debt structure—the large amount of debt the government has taken on—is going to create possibly major issues in the economy during the next several years, including the possibility of inflation and a fall in currency value.

“We need noninflationary economic growth to avoid major problems. We can’t afford to see employment shrink,” he said. Employees will need to work longer and smarter to avoid severe economic problems, he said.

The Minneapolis meeting has also featured a full slate of committee meetings.  During the codes working group meeting, Julie Ruth, AAMA's code consultant updated attendees on activities related to the 2009/2010 code change cycle for the International Code Council.  AAMA is bringing several code change proposals forward during the cycle including revisions related to AAMA 507 regarding applicable glazing systems; as well new code language related to daylighting; dome-rise skylights and tubular skylights.

Code hearings for the 2009/2010 cycle start in mid-October in Baltimore, Ruth noted. Final action hearings for the International Building Code proposals will take place in May 2010, and hearings for the International Enercy Conservation Code and the International Residential Code will take place in fall 2010. In 2011, the ICC will introduce the new codes, Ruth said.

In addition to developing its own proposals, Ruth noted that “between now and [the hearings in Baltimore], we need to develop positions on what everyone else has submitted. This time around, I’m anticipating that we’re going to have even more to look at.”

Steve Strawn, product compliance policy manager at Jeld-Wen Inc. agreed that the group faces a challenge to review all of the other industry-related proposals. “The sense is that we’re going to see an awful lot of activities related to energy,” he said. “Our job through the summer is to get to the point where we can get all of the proposals together, figure out what is important, and have some level of approval by the next meeting."

Reported by Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor and retail glass co-editor for Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at kdevlin@glass.org.