AAMA Progresses on
Green Specification for Fenestration Products
The industry may be getting closer to having a green
specification for fenestration products. Members of the American Architectural
Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) Green and Sustainability Specification
Development Task Group discussed the latest version of the association’s
Sustainable Products Certification Program Proposed Criteria during the
group’s summer conference in Minneapolis held in June.
The proposed program is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)
LEED program in that it offers participants a specified number of points
in a range of distinct fenestration-specific categories, including condensation
resistance, variable transmittance and other factors. It also includes
five mandatory criteria that must be met: energy performance, air infiltration,
water resistance, structural performance and durability. A company’s products
can receive different points based on these factors. For example, in the
energy performance category a product would get different points based
on the U-factor of that particular window.
“When it comes to someone else’s program this could be the fenestration
component they specify,” said task group chair Tracy Rogers of Edgetech
The program is expected to include residential and nonresidential products,
though one member proposed a strictly residential program.
There was much discussion about the various specifics of the program,
many of which had to do with concerns regarding specific materials, to
which Rogers said, “AAMA’s whole goal is to be material-neutral.”
The group also discussed specific product groups, including skylights.
Some representatives of the skylight industry suggested that skylights
be considered separately. Ultimately, the group decided to create a separate
rating category for each program in the North American Fenestration Standard
(NAFS), while still having commonalities.
“This doesn’t mean we break up and start over,” said Rogers.
The meeting also included a discussion of the factory-glazed windows component
of the program, much of which centered on the issue of recycled content.
AAMA’s Aluminum Materials Council presented a proposal outlining levels
of recycled content and how many points a product would get based on those
percentages. This created a great amount of feedback and various members
representing the vinyl industry said the numbers were too high.
The proposal for pre-and post-consumer recycled content would give 2 points
for 10 to 24 percent recyclability, 4 points for 24 to 40 percent, 6 points
for 50 to 74 percent and 8 points for 75 percent and higher.
Terry Abels of Chelsea Building Products said these numbers would hurt
the vinyl industry. Others pointed out that there is no way to reuse vinyl
as is the case with other materials such as aluminum.
“Now you understand the problem aluminum has with U-factor,” one member
was quick to point out.
Brent Slaton from Keymark, a member of the Aluminum Materials Council,
said those proposed numbers can be changed and pointed out that the goal
was to “put more emphasis on recyclability and make it material-neutral.”
Ultimately, the attendees decided to put together a working group, chaired
by Abels, which will consist of at least one member of each of AAMA’s
materials councils and will determine what the appropriate levels should
While there were differences of opinion, the members seemed to agree that
the association is moving in the right direction with development of this
In addition to the task group’s discussion on sustainability, members
heard presentations from Dan Handeen, research fellow at the University
of Minnesota, on life cycle analysis (LCA). Handeen told members there
are different levels to the LCA, as well as different models available
to conduct this analysis. One of these models is the Athena EcoCalculator,
which the USGBC will be using in its LEED program (LCA has its own category
During a presentation to AAMA’s LCA task group, Kerry Haglund from the
Center for Sustainable Building in Minneapolis, reported that she is working
with AAMA and other industry groups to write a proposal in the hopes of
getting stimulus money from the Department of Energy to conduct LCA research.
But LCA is not an easy task. Handeen pointed out that LCA would calculate
the impact of the materials going all the way back to the materials’ origin.
For example, when it comes to vinyl windows it would mean taking into
account the energy used by the crane to dig the tin.
AAMA president Richard Walker noted that the association’s broad goal
is to have its green certification program be recognized by USGBC, adding,
“to do that we need LCA.” The group decided to continue looking into fenestration-related
North American LCA studies that the association may be able to endorse.
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