AAMA Makes Progress on Green Program

February 16, 2010

Palm Desert, Calif.—After overcoming some obstacles, the American Architectural Manufacturers Manufacturers Association made further progress on its green and sustainability rating and certification program as it gathered here for its 73rd Annual Conference.  The event also saw discussions related to AAMA's strategic plan unveiled last year, a preliminary market forecast from Ducker International, and a review of a recent proposal addressing lead content in hardware.

AAMA also honored members for their service to the organization in California. Kevin Seiling, right, was honored with the Outstanding Member Award, presented to him by last year's winner, Dave Moyer of Architectural Testing.

At last fall's AAMA meeting, progress on development of a green rating system for fenestration products was hampered by differences of opinion on how certain product attributes should be recognized.  How many points to award recycled content was the subject of much debate between producers of aluminum products on one side and vinyl and fiberglass product manufacturers on the other.  Intermediate meetings produced a compromise that is now leading AAMA to create two separate separate sets of green rating criteria depending on product performance class, explained Tracy Rogers of Edgetech IG, who chairs the committee working on the development of ratings criteria.

At the California meeting, AAMA members reviewed comments on a first draft of the criteria for R and LC products designed for residential and light commercial applications. Separate discussions were also started on the green and sustainability rating criteria for CW and AW targeting the commercial and architectural markets.

The AAMA conference opened with a progress report on a strategic plan for the organization unveiled at its annual meeting last year.  The plan, developed by AAMA's board of directors, identified three primary areas of focus for the organization: certification, standards and education. Rich Walker, AAMA's CEO, reviewed some more detailed objectives for the next few years designed to benefit member companies, including steps to better leverage AAMA's expertise in delivering both certificaiton and standards to the industry.

One of the objectives of the strategic plan is to refine policies and procedures to continually improve the efficiency and management of AAMA activities. To support that effort, the meeting featured an open forum looking at the structure and frequency of AAMA meetings. The forum, led by Rod Hershberger of PGT Industries, current AAMA chairman, and Steve Fronek of Apogee Enterprises, vice chair, gathered ideas for streamlining work through task group, committee and council sessions. The session also gathered feedback on proposals for for fewer AAMA meetings during the year, meeting locations, and possible changes to the typical Sunday through Wednesday meeting schedule. 

Rod Hershberger of PGT Industries, current AAMA chairman, left, presented Terry Abels of Chelsea Building Products with the Distinguished Service Award for AAMA's residential product group.

Market forecast
“We’re starting to see some rebound in residential, but the news is not so good for the commercial market,” reported Nick Limb of Ducker International, who also spoke at the opening session of the conference. He offered attendees a preliminary look at Ducker’s findings as it prepares its biennial window, door and skylight market study for AAMA and WDMA, scheduled to be finished in May. Last year produced significant declines—between 20 and 25 percent—for most window and door products across both the residential and commercial markets, he said.

The 2010 picture is better for residential windows, Limb stated. Currently, Ducker estimates this market declined about 20 percent in 2009 to 38 million units. For 2010, he predicted, it will increase about 15 percent. New residential construction, he noted, is expected to be up about 30 percent, which sounds like a large increase, but still translates into fairly low levels from a historic perspective. Remodeling activity is also expected to see some increase.

In the nonresidential market, Limb stated, much of the decline came in the second half of the year, and Ducker now expects it will be worse in 2010. At this stage in its research, Ducker estimates nonresidential fenestration product sales were down about 25 percent in 2009, with another 30 percent decline predicted for 2010, Limb stated. “We think things will flatten in 2011, and it’s going to take until 2012 to see growth again in this market.”

Lead content
Among the activities within the various business sessions, a special hardware committee reviewed new language established in the latest draft of the next edition of the North American Fenestration Standard (AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440), designed to assure that hardware surfaces meet the same lead content standards established for vinyl and other materials in the document.  The draft now calls for an initial swab test performed on hardware surfaces intended for repetitive human touch. If that test indicates lead, the actual lead content must be determined using Environmental Protection Agency sampling and testing procedures by an EPA recognized lab, and it must not exceed 0.02 percent by weight. 

Chuck Gilderman, representing Truth Hardware, reviewed Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for lead content.  He noted that the new NAFS language fits well within the guidelines set for products intended for children under 12, even though the CPSC excludes windows and doors as a "children's product." 

"This is an issue that deserves some caution," Gilderman added, but the zinc used by most hardware manufacturers in their zinc die cast products, he emphasized, is also well under the CPSC limits. The new 0.02 percent standard in NAFS could limit the use of oil-rubbed bronze and other uncoated metal hardware products, it was noted.

Even with new NAFS requirements, Barry Lawrence of Lawrence Industries, a supplier of composite locks, raised concerns about hardware products potentially producing positive test results for lead under the new EPA rules for the remodeling industry addressing lead paint in pre-1978 homes. Most attendees at the session argued that is a separate issue focused on lead paint dust, however, adding that NAFS standards can only address products at the point of manufacture.

The AAMA meeting concludes today with final council meetings and a board of directors meeting.  Look for an update in next week's WDweekly.