AAMA and IGMA review NFRC commercial rating program
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AAMA Meeting Highlights:
IGMA Meeting Highlights
In an IGMA session reviewing the latest draft of the NFRC component modeling approach to rating the energy performance of commercial products, as well as NFRC’s first draft budget for the program, Margaret Webb, IGMA executive director, reported that IGMA along with AAMA and two other groups have told NFRC they have serious questions about the viability of its planned launch.
While NFRC had funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to get its residential system started, as well as support from the industry, the estimated $2 million cost to launch the commercial rating system over 18 months is currently expected to come entirely from participant fees, she noted. Reporting on discussions between leaders of IGMA, AAMA, the Aluminum Extruders Council of Wauconda, Ill., and the Glass Association of North America of Topeka, Kan., Webb said there was agreement that the proposed fees would be burdensome to manufacturers, particularly for smaller companies.
Looking at the fees to be paid to NFRC to participate, a number of attendees at the IGMA session said that those fees are only a portion of the actual cost of participation, as they did not include testing, simulation and assorted other fees. A number of attendees also suggested an NFRC rating will primarily be a “duplication of efforts” already undertaken in the commercial market. Others noted that increased costs associated with using the new rating system could actually discourage the use of energy efficient products.
“Architects can do trade-offs,” one attendee noted. If high performance products become more expensive, commercial building owners are more likely to look at other building elements for saving energy instead.
The four associations see NFRC’s plan as “overly ambitious,” given that there is no outside funding and little immediate demand for certified product ratings in the market now, Webb said. The associations have communicated to NFRC their concern that the large investment NFRC will make in the program makes it somewhat risky for the NFRC organization as a whole.
Within the AAMA meetings, the discussions centered on AAMA 507, an alternative method for rating the energy performance of commercial products, supported by many AAMA members that manufacture such products. At the recent International Code Council hearings in Rochester, N.Y., May 20-26, efforts to get AAMA 507 referenced in the next edition of the codes along with NFRC’s system failed.
Stating that AAMA 507 is already used and accepted in the marketplace, while NFRC’s program is not yet complete, commercial and architectural product manufacturers that are part of AAMA urged the association to get the document accepted during the next code change cycle. AAMA’s architectural products council passed a motion to the AAMA board saying as much, and insisting AAMA to go back to NFRC to see if it would consider making use of AAMA’s methods.
AAMA’s residential window council, however, passed a separate motion, asking the AAMA board to move cautiously on this front. On the residential side, AAMA has a considerable stake in NFRC, as it serves as an independent inspection agency.
During the last code cycle, the use of AAMA 507 was proposed by organizations other than AAMA. Although AAMA has yet to decide on specific plans for the next set of code hearings, its board of directors responded to the two separate motions from its residential and architectural councils by issuing the following statement: “AAMA reaffirms its commitment to acting as an IA for the NFRC thermal certification program. Within the confines of its contractual relationship with NFRC, AAMA will promote the use of AAMA 507 as a rating method for architectural products.”
An AAMA task group decided to examine whether to propose expanding references in the code to the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 standard beyond windows and sliding glass doors to include side-hinged and/or non-glass doors, the attendees decided. That was the eventual goal when those products were included in the standard, but the infrastructure for rating and certifying all aspects of their performance is still being developed. The door task group will examine where sufficient progress has been made on that front, among other issues, to see if further code changes are warranted now.
Separately, members of AAMA’s skylight council looked at alternatives for getting more widespread recognition of 101/I.S.2/A440 in the codes for skylight products. Additionally, members discussed concerns about more stringent U-value requirements for skylights passed for the next edition of the International Codes.
An AAMA task group is also examining recent proposals from an ICC committee to look at the potential for secondary latches to prevent child falls from windows.
Julie Ruth, AAMA’s code consultant, noted that within ICC there is recognition that the recently enacted window sill height requirements might not be that effective in preventing such falls, pointing to a number of states that have enacted the latest edition of the code, but decided to omit the sill height requirements.
AAMA members also voted to form a new green building committee to better enable the organization to follow activities within the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as the joint efforts of ICC and the National Association of Home Builders, and potentially provide input. Other developments within AAMA included completion of a new acoustic rating method document, plans to publish a commercial installer reference guide, and completion of a forensic field testing document that will be sent out for ballot shortly.
NFRC’s commercial rating program was not the only item on IGMA’s agenda. NFRC’s board of directors recently voted to require IG certification as a prerequisite to getting an NFRC-certified rating and label on a product.
IGMA members reviewed specific recommendations that IGMA, in conjunction with the Insulating Glass Certification Council of Henderson Harbor, N.Y., would put forward to NFRC regarding IG certification, suggesting that such requirements only apply to IG units incorporating low-E and/or a gas fill.
Following up on discussions of IGMA’s glazing guidelines for residential and commercial IG units, Tracy Rogers of Edgetech I.G., chair of IGMA’s technical services committee, suggested the organization develop guidelines for the use of capillary tubes. Recommendations on when they are needed, based on elevation differences between a factory and the job site, unit size, glass, and various other considerations would be valuable, the attendees agreed.
Also discussed was a proposal to examine the use of the GasGlass device to determine percentage of gas content in a unit in the field. A researcher from Air-Ins Inc., Varennes, Quebec, looking for support and input from IGMA proposed a study that would examine units in the field every day for a year to see if the device is consistent and reliable when there are changes in temperature and other weather conditions, time of day, solar incidence, building orientation and other factors.
IGMA and AAMA business meetings were held separately, but the two groups gathered for social events and luncheon speakers. Providing an overview of purchasing trends in the low- and mid-rise commercial markets, Robert Brockley, national advertising director of Commercial Building Products Magazine, asserted that architects are playing an increasingly smaller role in deciding what’s getting installed.
One reason for this, he suggested, is that building owners and developers are demanding that architects suggest multiple brands in specifications. The builder/contractor “controls the lion’s share of the brand selection process,” he said.
Looking at the current market, Brockley reported that 2006 and 2007 is the best two-year period the commercial building market has seen since the early ’90s. Office demand is very strong now, he said, and the long-term outlook for both the nursing home and school markets is extremely positive, suggesting that commercial demand overall should remain healthy for some time.
AAMA also heard from Jerry Heppes of the Door and Hardware Institute of Chantilly, Va., which represents distributors of commercial hardware. Given the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and more recent school incidents such as the Virginia Tech shootings, legislators and building officials are much more focused in life safety and security issues, he reported. “We’re even on Capitol Hill now. There’s real interest in what we do.”
“People recognize, when doors fail, people die,” Heppes said and regulators are beginning to recognize that locked fire doors “are more common than uncommon.” This fall, DHI is launching a certification program for individuals to offer such annual inspection services.
The concurrent meetings of AAMA and IGMA were the result of numerous discussions between the two groups to work more closely together. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Rich Walker, AAMA executive director, said the two organizations will continue to explore ways they can work together to benefit the members of each.
AAMA meets next October 14-17 for its national fall meeting in Orlando, Fla. For more information visit www.aamanet.org.
IGMA’s next official meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28-Feb. 1 in Sanibel Island, Fla. Other upcoming IGMA events include its day-and-a-half Preventing Insulating Glass Failures educational seminar to be held in conjunction with GlassBuild America, the Glass, Window & Door Expo in Atlanta, Sept. 10-12. More information about those events available at www.igmaonline.org.