Retesting, Recycling and New Training Alliance Top AAMA Discussions in Minneapolis

June 15, 2009
Organizations

The American Architectural Manufacturers Assocation concluded a busy meeting in Minneapolis earlier this month with the announcement that a new alliance with the National Glass Association will provide online window, door and skylight training via NGA's MyWindowClass.com and MyGlassClass.com. 

The event also featured lively discussions on re-test requirements for product certification, and recyclability and recycled content requirements set forth in AAMA's new green and sustainability specification under development.  Additionally, AAMA announced that its new standard for assessing the wind-driven rain resistance of windows, doors and skylights is now available.

“We’re very pleased to enter into this strategic alliance with our friends at the NGA,” said Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO. “We’re impressed by what they have created in MyGlassClass.com, and we believe the addition of our window, door and skylight content will enhance the value to members from both associations.”

“This represents another key watershed in the evolution of MyGlassClass.com,” added Phil James, NGA president and CEO. “AAMA’s technical materials are second-to-none, and they are a welcome and important addition to our course catalog.”

The two associations will collaborate on window, door and skylight courses on MyWindowClass.com. Existing technical material originally developed by AAMA is expected to be re-purposed as online content by January 2010. It will instantly become the most comprehensive collection of online courses for fenestration manufacturers and dealers in the industry.

Much of the training content now available on MyGlassClass.com has been developed through similar alliances with other industry groups, including the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance, the Glass Association of North America and Architectural Testing Inc.

Re-Testing
The Minneapolis meeting featured a a Certification Re-test Forum designed to allow attendees to debate a proposal to extend the certification re-testing requirements to eight years instead of its current four years. Attendees in opposition to the proposal argued that the extension of re-testing requirements could weaken the certification program. Many in favor of the proposal said that the change would de-emphasize testing for manufacturers, while re-emphasizing inspection.

“Much more than 50 percent of these retests fail,” said Rich Biscoe of Architectural Testing, an opponent of the extension. “Upstream suppliers will change their suppliers and their vendors, and they won’t tell [window companies]. Four years later, the company thinks they’re testing the same product, but it will fail miserably because of that piece of hardware that changed.”

Biscoe said the decision to extend retesting seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction to the economy. “There are a lot of ways in this program to reduce costs. I don’t know why testing becomes the whipping boy,” he said. “We should make the decision on facts, not just on what feels good.”

Henry Taylor, president of Architectural Testing, also argued that the extension to 8-year retesting could lead to lawsuits.

Jeld-Wen Inc.'s Ray Garries said he supports the move to 8-year retesting, because an increased emphasis on quality controls backed by AAMA inspections will lead to reduced testing failures. In addition, he said, manufacturers are forced to retest more frequently already.

“If you are going to keep up with building codes, you have to retest," Garries said. "If changes happen with materials or you get a new vendor, you’re testing. New metals, new processes, we’re testing. … Our test frequency over the last 10 years has gone up 60 percent.”

Garries also argued that AAMA’s certification program is competing with other certification programs, many with longer retest requirements. “This certification is not the only show in town," he said. "We have five or six competitors, many retesting at longer periods of time. Dade County, with the most strict, difficult certification, is at 10 years.”

Based upon decisions made and opinions heard at the forum, a task group was formed to look at the issue.  It will work this summer to look at enhancing the the inspection process. AAMA's certification policy committee will determine the test report life based upon that proposal with a purpose is to ensure a proper policies and procedures for quality control.

Recyclability
The meeting revealed that AAMA's individual material divisions are at odds when it comes to the value of recyclability and recycled content in the association's green and sustainability specification, still under development.  Representatives from vinyl manufacturers expressed concern that the under-development sustainability specification favors other framing products, such as aluminum or wood, that can be more-easily recycled. Several aluminum manufacturers countered that their products face similar challenges achieving thermal performance. They argued that these factors are just trade-offs for manufacturers and should be taken into account in the specification.

“We are a material neutral organization," said Wausau WIndow & Wall Systems' Steve Fronek. "One of the most difficult things we have to do is come up with a definition of recyclable or recyclability that can pass through the general ballot and still be technically accurate. In the end we need to pass something, and ideally what we pass will represent a consensus.”

To try to reach consensus, the Green and Sustainability Specification Develop Task Group, chaired by Tracy Rogers of Edgetech IG, moved to develop another group made up of members from each material group to address the recyclability issue. Terry Abels of Chelsea Building Products was named to head the group.  

Severe Wind-Driven Rain
Following a 12-month review led by AAMA's Southeast Region, the organization has also announced the release of  AAMA 520-09. The publication, titled Voluntary Specification for Rating the Severe Wind-Driven Rain Resistance of Windows, Doors and Unit Skylights provides an optional rating of the ability of fenestration products to resist severe wind-driven rain.

The standard is based on a rapidly pulsed pressure differential testing that recognizes the fact that conditions encountered during tropical storms, hurricanes or severe thunder storms are not static. “This specification is applicable for use in testing and comparative rating of windows, doors and unit skylights that are intended for use in areas which may be subjected to severe wind-driven rain conditions,” explains Ken Brenden, AAMA technical services manager.