Volume 7, Issue 8 - September 2006

WDMA Opens Up

No One Material Reigns
Diversification is the Key to Success
by Jeffrey Lowinski

The days when a door, window, skylight, or for that matter any other building product, served as a single-source material are long over. In fact, they were really never here to begin with.

It takes many different types of materials, processes and treatments to make up the building products on the market. Sure, at one time wood was the predominant material of windows, but weren’t there steel latches and glass and other components as well to make it all part of the system?

Material Neutrality
Today, the industry depends on the diversity of well-made products to bring superior doors, windows and skylights to market. In fact, diversity means longevity, a culmination of the most appropriate manufacturing techniques. For example, wood windows can meet historic requirements, but also, some of the strictest energy codes. They have cladding that includes vinyl or other environmentally conscious materials. For WDMA, pursuing material neutrality makes the most sense. After all, products will continue to evolve in their make-up and include all types and various alternative resources. 

There’s no denying the beauty of a superior built door, window or skylight. Each creates or echoes a design and can be paired in a variety of shapes, designs and high-tech features. But behind the beauty are products built to last a lifetime. Whether wood, vinyl, composite material or a combination, the construction components work together to bring integrity to every specification.

Tracking the Trends
Change and evolution continues within the industry, with a focus on the environment, product longevity and of course, friendly manufacturing. Here’s what we see happening in the industry:

  • There’s a definite move to more “green” built and environmentally friendly products, including doors. WDMA will soon publish a new technical bulletin on LEED Opportunities for Doors. Look for it at www.wdma.com. Participation in green programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and the Green Building Initiative Green Globes programs are ongoing WDMA activities. 

  • There’s continued use of a wide variety of materials in the construction of doors, windows and skylights. As such, WDMA continues to watch the regulation of components and materials and how they might affect our membership. A California formaldehyde issue is now on our radar. The state has released a proposed draft regulation order recently titled “Airborne toxic control measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products” in the interest of improving indoor air quality. California wants to enact legislation that limits formaldehyde emissions; initially from three primary sources: hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB) and medium density fiberboard (MDF). They have established targeted emission concentrations for two separate phases of implementation, tentatively scheduled to be effective on July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2010. While the focus has been on manufacturers of these sheet goods, they also intend to enforce it downstream to manufacturers that use these products to make other products, such as cabinets, furniture, interior doors and probably exterior windows and patio doors. The draft regulation covers emissions testing, third- party certification, product labeling and records maintenance to demonstrate compliance, which could potentially have an impact on our industry. WDMA is watching this issue closely.

    In addition, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead issue has caught our attention. The EPA has issued a proposed lead rule that would establish extensive lead mitigation mandates such as a required certification program for renovators, remove or fully cover all objects (furniture) and cover all surfaces and isolate the work area, etc. All of this could have an extensive impact on remodeling and replacement work, including window replacement. On both of these issues, WDMA is coordinating input and response via our code committees.

  • Regulatory marketing continues to be on the rise. Codes and standards and new building requirements for seismic, storm resistance or other structural properties are resulting in a new breed of super strong and long lasting products. In fact, much of the testing of doors, windows and skylights results from new codes in the marketplace. Increasingly, the International Code Council continues to recognize and reference products manufactured according to WDMA standards.

  • Design trends continue to be reflected in standards. For example, the Voluntary Performance Rating Method for Mulled Fenestration Assemblies is now recognized in AAMA/WDMA/ CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-05 Standard/ Specification for Windows, Doors and Unit Skylights. AAMA 450-06 and its changes will be included in the updated 101/I.S.2/A440-05, slated for release in 2007. Changes to the document were initiated by WDMA, as they addressed the increased use of mulled fenestration assemblies (two or more products combined and installed in one opening). Prior to the changes proposed by WDMA, where was no common procedure for determining the performance of these types of assemblies, although they have become commonplace.

Jeffrey F. Lowinski serves as acting president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association based in Des Plaines, Ill. He may be reached at jlowinski@wdma.com.

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