AAMA Tackles a Variety of Issues in Florida

March 1, 2012

Naples, Fla.–While the American Architectural Manufacturers Association celebrated its 75th anniversary at its conference here this past week, it was also business as usual at the meeting. The event featured a variety of task group and committee meetings, with notable developments in the areas of installation and green standards, and an update on a program to enable life cycle analysis of window and door products.

Rich Walker, AAMA CEO and president, led the LCA discussion, reporting on a joint effort by AAMA, the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and the Glass Association of North America that is being supported by the Department of Energy.  The concept is to look at all the stages in the life of a window–from resource extraction, raw material production and window manufacturing to use and maintenance and end of life–and measure the energy consumed and various environmental impacts. The group is now defining the the "product category rules...deciding what is going to measured and reported and what the rules for measuring will be," he said.

The end result of these efforts, he explained, would be a template for companies to use to make environmental product declarations. Noting that it will be something like a nutrition label on food, he showed examples of labels from other industries and Europe, which showed such criteria as greenhouse gas production.  More consumers are likely to start demanding such labels, and programs like LEED are likely to reference them as well, he continued.

The group is making good progress, Walker continued.  There are methodologies established for many areas, such as aluminum production and/or product transportation. There are still many challenges, notably the fact that there is no "average building."  He also said it was difficult to make assumptions on such input factors as a typical window lifespan.

Green certification
Responding to a question, Walker suggested there is overlap between this industry-wide effort and AAMA's own green certification program that is under development.  "There are certainly some commonalities," he said. "It will take some time to see how it all fits together."

The Florida meeting saw AAMA members progress on its green program. On the residential side, members worked to address several comments in the nearly-finished standard, with plans to send the document out for final ballot in March. Work also began on reviewing ballot results on the green and sustainability procedural guide, a document that will define the procedures and documentation required to earn green product certification.

Several committee sessions were also devoted to installation practices, including efforts to complete several joint installation standards AAMA has developed in conjunction with the Fenestration Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association. Two new initiatives discussed in Naples were a joint effort to develop a standard for window installation over expanded foam board, a product seeing "a big increase in use by builders looking to meet higher energy efficiency standards" and plans within AAMA to begin reviewing and updating the InstallationMasters Training Manual.

Accelerated Weathering
With members looking for new, faster alternatives to see if new components and finishes will stand up to weather over time, the annual conference also featured a presentation on accelerated weathering technologies. Sean Fowler of Q-Lab and Oscar Cordo of Atlas Material Testing Technology, both suppliers of weathering equipment, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of flourescent UV, concentrated solar and xenon arc testing, and also offered some examples of how various industries had refined these methods to meet their needs for testing. 

"Ten-year-old data has little value," noted Fowler, in starting the discussion. Outdoor testing programs can take as long as 10 years, and meanwhile. "Companies have moved on to next generation technologies," he said.

Both emphasized that "outdoor testing is still best."  Products have passed accelerated testing, but failed outdoors, while other products have failed accelaerated test, but perform outdoors, Fowler said. The risk of the former is obvious, while the latter problem means companies may "over engineer" a product and make it more costly than necessary, he explained.  "To mitigate risk, you need to continue outdoor testing," he said. To get the most out of accelerated weather testing, he continued, avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and do lots of experimetation–"evaluate early and often."

AAMA Business
Other business at this week's meeting included ratification of a new board of directors. One notable change is the addition of Jerry Heppes in the board position designated for a representative of an affiliated association. Heppes is CEO of the Door and Hardware Institute, a consultant to the Door Security and Safety Foundation and serves on a number of boards and councils, including the Door Safety Council and the Small Business Legislative Council.

“We are excited to have Jerry Heppes on the Board,” noted Walker. “With more than 20 years of experience, he brings to this role excellent association contacts and an extensive knowledge of the openings industry."  Walker also expressed thanks to Phil James, president of the National Glass Association and Heppes' predecessor on the AAMA board.

AAMA next meets for its summer conference, to be held this year near Chicago.  More information on that event, scheduled for June 10-13 at the Marriott Oak Brook Hills in Oak Brook, Ill., is available on the AAMA website.