Volume 8, Issue 10 - November 2007

Center Stage
Energy Issues Steal the Show at AAMA Conference
by Tara Taffera

When members of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) met recently in Florida for its fall conference, energy topics were discussed extensively. This is no surprise as green issues are taking center stage in the building industry, coupled with the fact that the Department of Energy is considering changing its Energy Star® criteria (see story, page 46). (If this topic was upstaged by anything, though, it was the demonstration of the University of Florida’s hurricane simulator. See sidebar). 

Energy Issues 
Determined to tackle issues related to green building, AAMA has formed a Green Building and Sustainability group that met for the first time in Orlando, Fla. However, as this group is in its infancy, much of the discussion centered on details such as name and scope of the group.

For example, the group discussed whether it should function as a task group or committee, though it didn’t reach a conclusion about this.

Attendees did determine that the Green Building and Sustainability group should not be a technical task group. Issues to be determined include whether it wants to develop a green building certification program or look into the creation of a green tag on a window label. The group’s chair, Steve Fronek of Wausau, said they’d have to move quickly on that decision as other groups are “hot on this trail as well.”

You can’t talk about “green” without talking about energy issues, and this was discussed in several meetings, including the Codes and Regulatory Affairs Committee. AAMA’s codes consultant Julie Ruth gave members an update on the energy legislation and offered some insight on whether this legislation will become law ultimately. 

She noted that HR 3221 was approved and now has to go to conference. This summer, the House of Representatives approved a bill that calls for a 30-percent reduction in energy use from the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential building and 2004 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1 for commercial building by 2010. By 2020, the bill’s goal is to reduce energy use even further in both commercial and residential building, by 50 percent. By 2050, the bill aims for all new commercial buildings to be “zero net energy“”—meaning that the building produces as much energy as it consumes. The bill currently is under review in the Senate.

“This is some very ambitious legislation,” says Ruth.

She says that if the legislation passes and the goals outlined are not met, then the Department of Energy would take over development of the energy codes. As far as whether the legislation will pass Ruth says it depends on the party to which you talk. Some lobbyists say that since the Senate version, S2078, was introduced in October, it is more likely to pass. Whatever the outcome, Ruth says these bills signal that the energy and code landscape is changing. “Even if this legislation doesn’t go through there will be an increased push for energy efficiency,” she says.

Coastal Committee Studies Corrosion
The Coastal Coating Subcommittee, which first formed in May, discussed corrosion in coastal applications. The group’s mission is to develop a stand-alone, higher-performing specification for seacoast locations that applies to all three existing coating specifications (AAMA 2603, 2604 and 2605) and contains additional performance tests to simulate exposure in seacoast environments. 

“Our intent here was to try to move the ball,” said Valspar’s Chick Newhouse, committee chair. This is an enormous issue and people aren’t paying attention to it. Hopefully this will give it some attention.”

Newhouse reported results of some tests conducted since the May meeting and much of the time was spent having committee members look at the test panels. The group is focusing on three accelerated tests: CASS (1,000 hours), MACHU and Filiform. The committee discussed that perhaps the MACHU test wasn’t severe enough for the extrusion, and that the committee might want to look into a more severe test.

The committee must still determine how much corrosion will be considered acceptable.

“We’re trying to find a test for these coastal properties,” said David Calabra of Sherwin Williams. “It’s a challenge finding a test that is going to tell us that a product will last ten years. Even if it passes 1,000 or 1,500 hours, will it pass ten years?” “That’s the big question to answer—correlation [of these tests] to the real world,” added Newhouse. He then addressed the fact that some companies will choose to offer products that do not meet this new specification.

“Yes, it will be expensive. Yes, there will be environmental considerations. Yes, there will be changes that have to be made,” he said.

Vinyl Council Addresses Compound Changes
The 109 Compound Change Task Group met for the first time at AAMA. Their goal is to review and modify the current definition of a compound change specified in AAMA 109, Procedural Guide for the AAMA Fenestration Exterior Profile Certification Program to improve variances between compounds.

Currently, if a change made to a compound is more than 30 percent, 12 months of weathering tests must be performed before the compound may be used in a product. The consensus, according to the group’s chair Tony Vella of Royal, was that 30 percent was too high. “You can make almost any change and can still meet 30 percent,” he said. “To be proactive we are looking at alternative ways of defining a compound.”

Members explored three options: cell classification, submit formulation and chemical analysis. The consensus was to consider options one and two. Testing will be performed and a study group will be formed before it meets again in February. 

Paul Warner Retires
Mikron’s Paul Warner, a 22-year member of AAMA, is retiring, so AAMA members recognized him at the conference. Warner chaired the Codes and Regulatory Affairs Committee, was a board member and was named the association’s outstanding member in 2001. He has attended 61 AAMA conferences, according to Walker. 

AAMA’s annual 2008 conference will be held February 24-27 in Indian Wells, Calif. 

AAMA Members View Hurricane Simulator Up-Close

The University of Florida brought its mobile windstorm simulator to AAMA’s fall conference so members could see the world’s largest portable hurricane simulator of its kind. The simulator—calibrated recently to create actual recorded wind-driven rain scenarios—provides a realistic evaluation of building products and test methods intended for hurricane-prone regions. “We’re bringing the lab to the hurricane then bringing the hurricane to the lab,” says Forrest Masters, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida (UF). He adds that the university has the largest collection of field observation equipment in the world.

The apparatus is mounted on a trailer and composed of eight 5-foot-high industrial fans powered by four marine engines that collectively produce 2,800 horsepower. It is designed to blast building mock-ups with winds of up to 130 mph–Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–and high-pressure water jets that mimic torrential wind-driven rain of up to 35 inches per hour. AAMA is a huge supporter of the project. In fact, the association invested $60,000 recently to donate a Precipitation Imaging Probe (PIP) to UF (only ten of these exist). The probe will be used to further the university’s hurricane research, which includes studying wind-driven rain and its affects on buildings, including the windows. “The project is taking on a whole new direction due to AAMA,” says Masters.

“This is the heart of the matter [wind-driven rain].”

Although most residential and light commercial properties that are built in compliance with current codes will withstand hurricane winds physically, water intrusion through windows and walls remains a recurring issue. When rain penetrates these exterior building products and their assemblies, it often causes significant interior damage, occupant displacement, business interruption and extensive restoration expenses, according to AAMA.

“The information gathered will help us ensure performance of the windows, doors and wall assemblies under real-world hurricane conditions, and ultimately, protect more people and properties from costly damages,” says AAMA president Rich Walker.

Though AAMA members witnessed this in a controlled setting, that’s not usually the case. “This is a fairly risky endeavor,” says Masters. “We’re setting up equipment in 60- to 70-mph winds.” He then added jokingly, “We always save seats for industry folks.”


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