A Desert Event
AAMA Holds Fall Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizone
by Penny Beverage

Amidst the backdrop of a field of cactuses and the beautiful Desert Ridge Marriott Resort & Spa, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) held its annual fall meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., October 12-15. In keeping with the venue, the association touched on some prickly issues in its meeting, including door certification standards, the upcoming code hearings and mold litigation.

However, with about 200 in attendance, the prickliness didn’t last long, spread among social activities such as a cocktail party, a trip to “Rawhide” and lots of time for meeting and networking at Café AAMA.

NAFS 101

At the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) task group meeting, chaired by Ray Garries of Jeld-Wen, the group debated a possible proposal to change the paschal requirements in the standard.

“What we propose is a 200-paschal break between passes,” Garries said.

Using a “straw pole,” about 60 percent agreed on the change. However, some were in doubt that the rest of the association and codes councils would agree.

“Is this something do-able marketing wise?” asked one concerned task group member.

“This is so new, the answer is no,” Garries replied.

The group hopes to get the change into the standard during the 2006 code cycle.

Jeffrey Lowinski, the representative for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) present throughout many of the meetings, noted that his association agrees with the paschal change.

“WDMA is very supportive,” he said.

The Endless Question

The Insulating Glass Gas Retention subtask group met with only seven in attendance. It attempted to go through its entire proposed draft for how to measure gas retention and make some comments, to finalize the draft it developed during the summer meeting in Newport, R.I., in June (see September/October 2003 Door & Window Maker).

“It’s pretty important that when we leave here today we get an idea of if what we’re working on is what we want,” said chairperson Mark Toth of Schnee-Morehead.

While the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) is working on the same task—figuring out the best way to measure if the unit is filled and with how much gas—Toth commented that the two groups are undergoing the same struggle.

“[IGMA] hasn’t gotten any closer than we have to saying ‘this is the definitive way we’re going to measure,” he said.

Joe Almasy of TruSeal, the co-chair of the group, urged it to move forward and present some version of the document to AAMA, in an effort to increase the number of those interested in the task.

“I don’t think we’re going to get any reaction from the voting members until we put something up for vote,” he said.

“However,” Toth reassured the group, “As long as consumers want insulating glass units filled with argon gas, there’s going to be a need for us.”

One popular device, the Sparklike GasGlass currently seems to be the only product available for detecting the amount of argon in an insulating glass system (see April-May-June 2002 Door & Window Maker). However, the group’s task goes beyond that.

“So far, the Sparklike device seems to be the only thing that fits our bill, but I still think we need to set the criteria for non-destructively measuring the space between two pieces of glass,” Almasy said.

By the end of the meeting, the group had made some comments to the document and readied it for a vote.

Things Heat Up

One of the most popular meetings to attend at the last several AAMA gatherings has been that of the door certification council, which is still in the process of developing its future. The big issue is whether to certify entire systems, and, if so, how jobbers who mismatch products and put together their own systems are going to handle it.

“The door jobbers probably aren’t going to embrace this,” said Valerie Rogers of Weather Shield Manufacturing.

However, many suggested a component verification program—to make sure all the components meet air, structural and water resistance standards as a system. This was met with resistance as well.

“A component verification program? I don’t know. There’d have to be a quality control expert onsite with every one of those jobbers,” Rogers added.

Rich Biscoe of Architectural Testing Inc. suggested the purpose of the standard—to meet air and water standards—be changed.

“If it wasn’t air and water, this would be easy, right?” Biscoe asked, to which everyone answered with a resounding yes.

Many in attendance were also concerned with the expenses involved in testing door components separately. Likewise, many onsite jobbers switch components regularly, so there’s no way they could test every combination of parts every single time.

“Do door jobbers have any idea what kind of sill they’re going to use a year from now?” Rogers asked. “We don’t want to develop a program and get it written into NAFS and end up with egg on our face later because 90 percent of door jobbers can’t do this.”

Biscoe agreed, but added that, to this point, door manufacturers carry most of the burden of testing, while those installing the doors really don’t have to prove the products work.

“They [jobbers] haven’t had to do anything,” he said. “They’re only forced to be concerned with structural damage.”

Rogers and Joseph Hayden from Viking echoed his thoughts.

“Why should I have to test all my systems when they don’t?” Rogers asked.

Hayden added, “Why do I have to spend all this money testing and they don’t?”

After going round and round with the same issues, many of which were also touched upon at the June meeting, the group decided to try to plan a joint meeting around the time of the International Builders Show in Las Vegas in January with both the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD—formerly the National Sash and Door Jobbers Association) and the WDMA.

After much discussion, Rogers motioned to continue forward with preparing a document for a system certification program, and the motion was seconded by Jose Colon of Hurricane Test Laboratory Inc.

In the system certification program, basic components would be certified in the system with specifications for what they could be swapped with.

Code Red

Julie Ruth of JRuth Code Consultants and code consultant for AAMA provided her usual codes update during the codes working group meeting and urged attendees to reach a conclusion on what issues they want to pursue and which they’d rather let lie at the next set of code hearings.

First on Ruth’s agenda was the Urban Wildland Interface issue, which originally came forth during the group’s January 2001 meeting in San Diego when a suburb of San Diego attempted to ban vinyl windows after some suggested they can’t withstand a wildfire situation.

While the International Code Council (ICC) did not reach a conclusion on this at the September hearings in Nashville, Ruth said AAMA was able to at least gain some attention on the matter.

“We were able to make the committee aware that we have a task group working on developing wildfire ratings for windows,” she said. “I would expect us to keep seeing this issue come up.”

In regard to sunroom code proposals, Ruth said none of AAMA’s proposals were accepted by the ICC, mostly due to disagreement amongst AAMA and the National Sunroom Association (NSA).

AAMA decided not to make a public comment on any of the sunroom suggestions, but, instead, to meet with NSA and try to reach an agreement with them before the next ICC meeting.

Another recurring item was ICC’s desire to require a minimum sill height for second-story windows. The ICC had approved the 24-inch requirement, though it was opposed by AAMA and WDMA.

Some possible modifications suggested by task group members were to recognize that a safety or vent latch should also be required, or the number should be changed to 18 inches, to make sure emergency egress options are available to residents in case of fire.

However, Charles Everly of PGT Industries and chairperson of the group, expressed surprise that this issue was undergoing further scrutiny.

“It blows my mind that so many people in the industry are objecting to this,” Everly said. “We sell windows—what do we care where people put them?”

The final decision on the issue was to propose both the safety latch option and the 18-inch number.

A Colorful Issue

The mold monitoring committee, chaired by Ray Bjerrum of Merzon Industries, had both a guest speaker and some news from AAMA legal counsel Paula Goedert of Jenner & Block.

Goedert noted that she had been in contact with the National Association of Mutual Insurance, which currently is working on a consumer education brochure about mold.

“They’re going to put out a brochure for consumers, but we can give them our language to put into it,” she suggested. The committee agreed that this would be a good item for Goedert to follow up on.

While this issue has been resonating throughout—and frightening—the industry, Bjerrum expressed concern that the mold monitoring committee has no real purpose, so either its purpose should change or it should work harder to meet its scope.

“Our job was to report to the board and I’m not sure we’ve done that,” he said. “Beyond that, we don’t have anything else to do.”

He also noted that some are saying the issue is waning, and that the National Association of Homebuilders says its fear of mold litigation is declining.

“It doesn’t seem as out of control as we thought three years ago,” Bjerrum added.

However, after he suggested the group only meet as extreme mold cases arise, many attendees resisted and a straw pole led them to decide to meet regularly as they do now.

Barry Hardman of the National Institution of Building Sciences’ Mold and Buildings Alliance (MBA) then took over with a presentation on how AAMA could participate in its study of the mold problem. NIBS’ members include insurers, architects, government organizations, contractors, etc. The organization was founded originally as a government organization to deal with the asbestos problem of the 1980s, but now conquers everything, including mold.

“We link the public side and the private side [of the problem],” Hardman explained.

The MBA’s goal is to identify mold problems and the solutions to these. If AAMA were to join the MBA, it would pay dues and would have access to information on what other industries are doing about the mold issue.

Rich Walker of AAMA has been attending MBA meetings and said he would continue until the committee—and association—reach a decision. Walker was planning to attend NIBS’ December 10 meeting in Palms Spring and report back to the task group at AAMA’s February meeting.

“I believe it’s something we definitely ought to stay involved with,” Walker said.

What’s to Come

The association’s annual winter meeting, during which it will follow up on many of these issues, is slated for February 8-11, 2004, at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Springs, Calif., which promises to be another successful, but prickly, event.

Penny Beverage is a contributing editor for Door & Window Maker magazine.