Lei’ing Down the Law
AAMA National Meeting in Maui Develops Industry Standards
by Kristine Tunney
Imagine yourself waking up in paradise, walking out onto your balcony that overlooks the turquoise waters of the Pacific, sipping a freshly brewed cup of Kona coffee and basking in the early morning sun that has brought the temperature up to an ideal 80 degrees. After reading the paper, you throw on the brightly colored Hawaiian shirt you’ve been storing at the back of your closet for months and head out to accomplish the very reason you came to this beautiful island.
Chances are, if you were in Maui from February 2-6, 2003, you weren’t there just to improve your golf game, bike down a volcano or attain a “glow” that would make you the envy of all your co-workers back home. Members of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) who gathered at the Sheraton Maui Kaanapali Beach Resort had more on their minds than surfing and more on their plates than the freshest, juiciest pineapple ever (although there was a bit of that, too). Those gathered for the group’s 66th annual meeting were determined to build on past accomplishments and continue to set new standards for the fenestration industry.
From left to right: AAMA members were treated to a traditional Hawaiian luau; participants of the Afterburner™ seminar hear from a group of former military fighter pilots; and Larry Livermore, AAMA’s installation program manager, speaks at the awards ceremony.
A lot of the sentiment heard throughout the conference was best summed up at the Aluminum Materials Council meeting, led by presiding chairperson Raj Goyal of Graham Architectural Products Corp. There was much discussion over the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) eventual adoption of a U-factor for non-residential applications. Some attendees felt that the NFRC didn’t understand that non-residential products are entirely different than residential products.
The group’s realization that there is no window manufacturer on the NFRC board and there never has been seemed to spark an interest in the meeting’s attendees as they realized that it was time to get involved in issues that would affect their companies.
But as Goyal explained, the non-residential group hadn’t previously been important to NFRC because there wasn’t any representation by members of that sector.
“You can’t fault them,” said Goyal. “We weren’t there. If you want specific issues addressed, spend the money and send your people, your representatives, to the NFRC meetings. If you think they’re going to make decisions with your company in mind, without your company represented, get real!”
With the importance of energy issues at an all-time high, council members did agree that it would be of great benefit to both NFRC and AAMA to work harmoniously toward strengthening the integrity of the respective organizations’ energy and structural codes.
The Great Debates
During the meeting of the Thermal Performance Task Group, members debated ballot 43-02, which proposed that AAMA change its test sizes to match NFRC sizes, allowing manufacturers to do both tests simultaneously. William Deuschle of TRACO argued against the ballot, saying that NFRC sizes are based on residential sizes and are not realistic in commercial areas.
The desire to push for change in sizes comes from the desire to be consistent with ISO documents, but many of those present argued whether comparing the ratings on such different products was even possible.
Some attendees argued that commercial sizes reduced by 30 percent increases U-value, which puts those products at a big disadvantage in the marketplace, especially for sizes rarely used in commercial installations.
“Why represent your products in terms of values that correspond with sizes you never use?” said Michael Turner of YKK AP America.
After Deuschle’s argument was found to be persuasive, chairperson Dave Moyer of Architectural Testing Inc. proposed a dual-size standard, with residential samples reflecting NFRC test sizes and commercial test sizes to be determined by the commercial window manufacturers. Once the new sizes are decided, the motion will be reballoted and submitted to the membership.
During the meeting of the codes and regulatory affairs committee, Julie Ruth of JRuth Code Consulting, AAMA’s code consultant, updated members on the latest developments in the adoption of International Code Council (ICC) or National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) codes at either the state or local level.
“The codes are there, but it seems that nobody knows what to do with them,” said Valentin. “We need o represent our own interests at the state building code meetings. As of now, no one really knows AAMA when we go into these meetings.”
Ray Bjerrum of Fresno, Calif.-based Merzon Industries reported on the creation of a joint AAMA/WDMA legislative committee that would develop language to remedy onerous strict liability provisions of SB 800, the extensive revision of California state statutes that allows homeowners the “right to repair” homes for violations of functionality standards for up to ten years. The ambiguous and punitive language regarding windows and doors has led the associations to retain two lobbyists. AAMA has enlisted Cliff Berg of Governmental Advocates Inc., who previously was retained by Jeld-Wen Inc. to work in the interests of the member companies in regards to SB 800 issues.
“The wording in SB 800 is not at all favorable to our industry,” said Bjerrum. “Between SB 800 and the Jimenez Decision, there’s never been a worse time to be a window manufacturer in California.”
The joint legislative committee formed by AAMA and WDMA has enacted a lobbying strategy that incorporates the efforts of its lobbyists and a single set of proposed revisions to remedy the majority of onerous liability provisions for window producers.
And The Award Goes To …
As the end of the conference approached and the majority of work was done, it was time for members to gather for the group’s annual reception. After a variety of performances that took the audience on a virtual tour of the pacific, outgoing executive committee chairperson Ray Garries of Jeld-Wen highlighted the numerous accomplishments AAMA had made since the last national meeting.
Boasting of a 9-percent increase in the amount of certified manufacturers, a 15-percent increase in the number of accredited labs and realization of the online AAMA Institute, all agreed it had been a successful year for AAMA.
The chairman’s award was given to Graham Architectural Products Corp. Additionally, the Installation Masters Outstanding Sponsor award was presented to Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors. Ray Bjerrum of Merzon was the recipient of the Residential Products Group award and the Architectural Products Group award went to industry veteran Ron Gzell of Schnee-Morehead, a member since 1969.
After the passing of the lei to incoming executive committee chairperson, Chris Fuldner of EFCO Corp., past-chairperson Ray Garries was awarded the Outstanding Member Award for his unfailing dedication to AAMA during his time as chairperson.
Fuldner’s first remarks as AAMA’s new chairperson were filled with anticipation for the future.
“One of the ways to control your destiny is to be out front on the issues. We’re out front, we’re proactive,” he said.
Fuldner then proposed the formation of a governmental affairs committee of the board that would monitor, report and enlist the grassroots support of AAMA-member companies and employees to influence legislation impacting their businesses.
He also requested that AAMA develop a test report registration program to improve the integrity of product performance documentation in the architectural marketplace. The motion to appoint a small board committee that would propose the fundamentals of a test report registration program was passed unanimously. Fuldner said he hopes the performance documentation will be available online eventually.
As the sun set over the palm trees, the leis began to wilt and the conference came to a close, attendees left the island knowing that they had proved themselves to be effective assets to the field and had once again done their part in working toward setting new standards for the fenestration industry.
Kristine Tunney is an assistant editor of Door and Window Maker magazine.
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