Green, Litigation Top NWDA Summer Agenda

July 25, 2011
Meetings & Events

Ellicott City, Md.–The Northeast Window & Door Association learned about ways to control costs in the factory and in the legal arena at its summer meeting here last week. Steve Chen of Crystal Window & Door Systems offered a first-hand account of how "green" steps at his company's operations have saved money, and attorney Chip Gentry urged manufacturers to be proactive to avoid burdensome litigation.

 
 Crystal Window's Steve Chen at NWDA meeting.

Chen highlighted a number of changes made at Crystal's main factory and administrative headquarters in Flushing, N.Y. Green steps have been taken involving production equipment, waste recycling, raw materials, building design, building operations and even employee activities.

“We conducted our own in-house analysis of all the energy saving initiatives Crystal has implemented in the past few years, included estimated dollar savings,” reported Chen. “Although we always knew we were saving money by greening the factory, we were quite pleased with the outcome our analysis showed. And we did this without spending a lot of money on a formal energy consultant, which shows how attainable savings really are with modest effort.” The vinyl and aluminum window manufacturer is planning to release a report quantifying its results, he added.

An attorney with Carson & Coil, a firm that regularly represents fenestration industry companies, Gentry advised NWDA members that "windows are the low-hanging fruit" in the world of construction defect litigation. He pointed to seminars targeted at law firms that highlight the opportunities in the field, adding that manufacturers are seen as the ones with the deepest pockets.

He outlined numerous steps manufacturers should take with their sales force, with warranties, and with insurers to protect themselves.  He emphasized that insurers and their attorneys put their own interests first, and advised manufacturers to work with an attorney with window and door industry experience.

One emerging trend as far as "high risk projects," Gentry noted, were condominium conversions. Old warehouses and other such buildings converted to condominiums–with aluminum windows set in old concrete and masonry–are already being eyed for potential problems, he said.

Held at the Turf Valley Resort, the NWDA gathered about 50 industry attendees, with an agenda that also featured updates on a variety of code and regulatory developments.  Daryl Huber of B.F. Rich Windows & Doors, head of NWDA's government relations committee, reported the industry victory with the Environmental Protection Agency's decision not to expand its lead paint rules with additional test requirements.  He noted that at a recent National Association of Manufacturers' event, he had met with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who told him that Washington has heard the message, loud and clear, that there has been a regulatory "overreach."