Environmental and Energy Issues Top AAMA Agenda

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
June 14, 2011

Minneapolis–American Architectural Manufacturers Association members tackled a full agenda at its national summer conference held here last week. Topics covered in various sessions included lead paint, window tax credits, the next phase of Energy Star, AAMA's green rating program and more.

At the meeting's regulatory affairs session, attendees received a broad update of regulations, with Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency's lead paint rules continue to be a top industry concern. EPA is planning to review and curb some current regulations, including the recent Renovation Repair and Painting program. A final decision is expected by this summer, Walker said. Additionally, the EPA is "looking at commercial building next for lead," he noted, with the agency is currently seeking comments from the industry, and final action hearings are set for July 2013.

On the tax credit front, he reported that AAMA has also joined forces with several other organizations, including the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, to address tax credits for windows, which dropped drastically after the larger credits ran out at the end of 2010. The current maximum tax credit for energy efficient window upgrades is $200, down from $1,500. "We're trying to put together a lobbying force to reconsider these tax credits," Walker said.

Work continues on the next phase of Energy Star, still scheduled to take effect in fall 2013, Walker reported. Currently, the EPA is seeking feedback from manufacturers regarding the estimated cost of producing higher performance products at a higher capacity. 

One "good story," he reported, is the recent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission that has found aluminum extrusions from China were being dumped on the U.S. market and imposed duties on such products. "We understand this has had a profound effect right away," Walker said.

In another session, AAMA members heard from Kevin Mulvaney of the Vinyl Institute, who updated attendees on current activity within the EPA related to PVC production. The U.S. Clean Air Act requires a review every eight years to regulate emissions using technology employed by the best performers, he said, and new standards are being developed based on PVC industry surveys and testing completed in 2009 and 2010. A rule was drafted and sent to the Federal Register, and after the 60 day comment period has commenced, a final rule is expected to be published by January 13, 2012, he reported.  Though U.S. producers have reduced unit vinyl chloride emissions by 90 percent, the industry needs to continue its focus on manufacturing practices as a variety of regulations continue to emerge and evolve.

Another PVC related item that emerged in Minneapolis is a recent action by the California Environmental Protection Agency.  It has announced its intent to add titantium dioxide to its list of toxic materials covered under that state's Prop 65. Since titanium dioxide is an ingredient in vinyl window profiles, the decision could translate into new regulatory requirements for vinyl window makers, it was noted.

DOE Activities
Marc LaFrance, manager for Building Envelope and Windows R&D programs at the Department of Energy provided an update on the key research and development activities. “One seventh of the country’s energy is lost through the building envelope. This is an area the administration cares about,” he told attendees. DOE investment in windows has dropped since the stimulus, where it was at a “huge peak,” but the investment is still strong, he reported. “Windows didn’t have any cut [in funding] in fiscal year 2011.” 

Looking forward, LaFrance predicted technologies such as dynamic glazing will become more prevalent. “Last year, we saw $200 million in investments in dynamic glass. Sage [Electrochromics] and Soladigm both announced investments to build new factories. … We are going to see cost-effective dynamic glass in the 10-15 year timeframe,” he said.

He also provided an update on Phase I of the DOE’s R-5 Volume Purchase Program, which is currently focused on the residential market.  LaFrance said program participation continues to be low, but that it has increased awareness in the marketplace. “The positive thing from the program is that there was significant education and marketing from companies about high performance windows,” he said. “I think that education helped companies sell windows that weren’t part of the program.”

Phase II of the program began in May 2011. It will include criteria for commercial products and some revisions to the bid process. As part of the program, DOE is also investigating other energy-efficient solutions, such as low-E storm windows. “We’ve added this to the weatherization priority list in Pennsylvania, and are looking at Pennsylvania as a pilot state,” LaFrance said.

AAMA Business
With about 220 attendees, the Minneapolis meeting saw AAMA make progress in a number of its standards efforts. Its committee focusing on the development of an AAMA green product rating and certification program reviewed the results and addressed comments from its most recent ballot regarding the program's criteria for residential and light commercial ss products. Revisions will be re-balloted before the AAMA's fall conference.

A task group focused on sealants for installation also met to hear from Norma Searle, a consultant and former senior research chemist and group leader at American Cyanamid Co.  She offered a presentation on accelerated weathering tests for sealants. It focused on prime weathering factors, and the effects of temperature and moisture.

AAMA also presented its annual scholarships to four students who are children of employees of AAMA-member companies at its summer meeting. This year, three of the awards when to children of Pella Corp. employees: Danan Flander, an upcoming sophomore at the University of Iowa; Joshua Schrader, who will be a freshman at Des Moines Areas Community College; and Nicholas Cone, who wlil be a freshman at Clemson University. Also selected this year was whose mother is an employee of Pella Corp.  Danielle Misencik, who will be a freshman at Mount Union College was also named a scholarship winner. Her father is an employee of GED Integrated Solutions.

More information on activities at the summer meeting is available in the news section of the AAMA website. A video interview with Rich Walker from the summer meeting can also be found on the Glass Magazine website.