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Volume 6   Issue 8               September  2005

AAMA  Analysis

The New North American Window Standard
by Dean Lewis

Those of you who follow standards development closely know that much effort has been devoted over recent years to craft a single window and door standard that meets the requirements of all North American markets. These standards serve as the basis for product certification and are typically referenced by model codes, thereby simplifying product design and manufacturing and expanding marketing opportunities. 

A Long Journey
The foundation for this harmonization effort was the 1997 release of AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S. 2-97, “Voluntary Specifications for Aluminum, Vinyl (PVC) and Wood Windows and Glass Doors” (also referred to as “101-97” for easy reference), the first truly non-prescriptive, performance-oriented and material-neutral basis for  comparing the key performance characteristics and quality attributes of window, door and glass products. By early 2003, the first North American Fenestration Standard, AAMA/WDMA 101/I.S. 2/NAFS-02 (Voluntary Performance Specification for Windows, Skylights and Glass Doors, (“101-02”) was approved and officially referenced by the International Code Commission (ICC) for the Inter-national Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC). This standard virtually cloned 101-97’s requirements, but added skylights to the list of products. 

Both 101-97 and 101-02 are referenced currently by the I-codes and manufacturers may certify their products to either. However, few manufacturers have chosen to certify to 101-02, choosing to remain certified under 101-97. Part of the reason for this hesitation lay in certain technical difficulties inherent in the transition. For example, test standards in 101-02 were converted to metric equivalents, and minimum performance requirements were rounded up to the nearest number. A 101-97 requirement for 15 pounds per square foot (psf) might now be 15.03 psf, translated from its metric equivalent. Products certified to 101-97 may thus not be technically in compliance with the 101-02. Differences in forced entry resistance and operating force requirements are an issue.

The most recent incarnation, AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440-05 ( “101-05”), clears up these transitional speed bumps. This version also expanded coverage to encompass side-hinged exterior doors. (NOTE: A concise summary of the differences among 101-97, -02 and -05 was presented in table form in this column in the March issue of DWM, page 18.)

The ICC has granted initial acceptance of 101-05 for referencing within the IBC and IRC, with the final ICC hearing for code adoption set for this September. If the acceptance holds, the I-codes will reference 101-05 effective January 1, 2006. 

Changing Canoes
To manufacturers eyeing potentially high re-certification testing costs and possible marketplace confusion, figuring out who is going to require what and when might be viewed with the same trepidation as changing canoes in mid-stream. Realistically, despite the expected I-code referencing by January 1, 2006, it may be several years before all manufacturers will be certifying their products to 101-05. In addition, some states–notably Florida–will likely continue to require 101-97 independently for some time. To ease the changeover, AAMA’s Certification Policy Committee (CPC) has defined a transition period during which compliance with 101-97 and 101-02 will be accepted for certification along with the new 101-05. Beginning January 1, 2006, any new or re-certification testing of products to 101-97 and/or 101-02 must also be tested successfully to 101-05. Test reports that exist as of December 31, 2005, will continue to be valid until the expiration of their normal four-year certification cycle. Note that this does not mean that products certified to 101-97 or 101-02 as of December 31 must be re-tested to 101-05 before expiration of their four-year test report life. Although certification to 101-97 or 101-02 will also require successful testing to 101-05, labeling to 101-97 only or to 101-02 only, will still be permitted until further notice.

No sunset date for 101-97 has been identified. Seemingly, it would be four years from January 1, 2006–but 101-97 will in practicality be around as a basis for certification until it is no longer recognized by the Codes. y

Dean Lewis serves as manager, product certification, for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be reached at dlewis@aamanet.org.

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