Volume 8, Issue 7 - July/August 2007

What's News

ICC Hearings Result in Code Changes

The International Code Council (ICC) hearings were held in May in Rochester, N.Y., and the council approved numerous changes to the building codes. The code changes will be published later this year as the 2007 Supplement to the 2006 International Codes. According to Mike Fischer of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), some changes that related to residential and commercial door and window selection and installation include:

  • Revisions to the egress door sections of the International Residential Code (IRC) clarify that non-egress required doors are not required to comply with the dimensional requirements of the egress-required door. Also approved is a clarification that door thresholds at non-egress required doors (i.e., most patio doors) may be up to 7 ¾ inches above the floor or landing. This revision allows thresholds of patio doors to be higher than the 1 ½-inch limit above the floor or landing imposed on egress-required doors. 

  • A change was approved that allows sliding doors in the means of egress in some projects built under the International Building Code (IBC) if the occupant load is 10 or less.

  • A revision to installation language requires windows to be flashed and installed in accordance with the fenestration manufacturer’s instructions and installation instructions must be provided by the fenestration manufacturer for each door and window. 

  • In high-wind areas, the determination of the exposure category (Exposure B, C or D) for homes built under the IRC as part of a subdivision or master-planned community, can be based on the site conditions that will exist when all adjacent structures have been built. This may allow the initial homes of a development to be built as Exposure B vs. Exposure C, lowering the design pressure required for the structure and reducing the cost of construction. 

  • In hurricane-prone areas, for buildings constructed under the IBC, the use of wood structural panels such as plywood or oriented strand board for door and window protection from windborne debris was revised to only R-3 and R-4 occupancies (small adult and childcare facilities, small congregate living facilities or residential care/assisted living facilities). Permanent fasteners are required to be installed on the building for wood structural panels. This may result in an increased demand for hurricane shutters and/or impact-resistant doors and windows. 

  • Commercial skylights, regardless of glazing material, now will be held to the same material-neutral U-factor and SHGC performance requirements.

According to Fischer, energy-related changes to the code that were defeated include:

  • Proposals to raise U-factor requirements (i.e., weaken the energy code) in Northern United States were almost unanimously disapproved, with one exception: in the IRC, the energy requirements for northern climates were weakened slightly by removing the area-weighted U-factor maximum limit in Climate Zones 6 through 8. 

  • Proposals to require significantly lower solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) values in the southern climate zones were defeated. However, in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), maximum fenestration SHGC requirements for Climate Zones 1 and 2 in the South were reduced from 0.40 to 0.37 (Climate Zones 1 and 2 include: Florida, Southeast Georgia, coastal Alabama and Mississippi, the southern half of Alabama, the southeast third of Texas and southwest Arizona). 

  • The proposal for allowing American Architectural Manufacturers Association 507 as an alternative to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) was disapproved. NFRC will remain the only accepted certification program for determining commercial fenestration thermal performance. 

  • WDMA’s proposal to re-introduce material-neutral U-factor requirements in the IECC commercial energy prescriptive table of vertical fenestration energy requirements was disapproved. 

NFRC Attempts to Solicit CMA Approval from Designers
The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) still is in the process of receiving commentary on the Component Modeling Approach (CMA), but in the meantime, is promoting the benefits of the CMA to architects and specifiers. The group says the CMA is designed to “simplify the ratings of non-residential products” and that it will “yield accurate energy performance data for use in code compliance and will pave the way for meaningful building energy analysis,” according to the most recent issue of the NFRC Update, published in June 2007.

In addition, NFRC says CMA will make bidding an easier process for manufacturers, as they will be able to show that products meet bid specifications and code requirements under CMA. Likewise, the group says, “CMA will enable the design community to generate simulated ratings for different products quickly and simply.”

At the NFRC’s most recent meeting in Austin, Texas, in March, the group provided a draft of the CMA to the executive directors of the Building Owners and Manufacturers Association (BOMA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Construction Specifiers Institute (CSI). NFRC also is currently working on the label certificate format for CMA.

Nonresidential Building to Remain Flat in 2007
The expectation is that “nonresidential building this year for the United States will be flat,” according to Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. Murray presented a 2007 Outlook for U.S. Construction Activity webcast on Thursday, June 28. 

“It is still a pretty good year for nonresidential building,” Murray said. “When you get to 2008, this might change a bit.” 

Murray predicted “modest percentage declines” for nonresidential construction into 2009, while hoping that a slight increase in single-family housing construction will offset a decline in nonresidential construction, balancing overall construction activity. 

The webcast also addressed the increasing costs of materials. “The cost of materials has been a major issue from 2004 to the present,” Murray said.

Among the rising costs, Murray noted that heightened global demand of steel and iron, particularly in China, has contributed to continuing increases in the prices of those products. 

“It would seem that iron and steel is once again becoming an issue the building industry has to deal with,” Murray said.

However, the cost of glass products, according to Murray, will remain flat. 

With respect to individual areas of nonresidential construction, Murray predicted that the construction of income properties—including commercial buildings and multifamily housing—is expected to see a 5-percent decline in 2007, but it’s a decline that follows big increases in the last two years. 

Murray said that hotel construction remained the star of the show in 2006, and remains fairly strong this year as well. However, a 4-percent decrease in construction in 2007 might indicate “a pullback in lodging-related construction in 2008 and 2009,” he said.

He noted that casino hotel growth stands out—with the top three projects in terms of square feet located in Las Vegas—as well as growth in convention center hotels and condominium hotels.

“Broadening of the construction activity across the lodging spectrum will keep the overall activity pretty high,” Murray said. 

Murray also expects a “gradual upturn” in the construction of office buildings in 2007.

“The expectation is for another year of expansion getting up to 210 million square feet,” he said. That marks a 4-percent increase over 2006. 

One big trend Murray spotlighted was toward green building—which, according to a recent survey, is hardly a trend anymore; it’s a movement. The survey of 190 corporations found “growing acceptance and a growing tendency to engage in green activities and green building strategies.” Murray predicts a market shift in the next three years toward more green projects. 

“By 2009, 80 percent of corporate America is expected to be engaged in green at least 15 percent of the time,” Murray said. 

Twenty percent of corporations are expected to be engaged in green practices 60 percent of the time. Forty-three percent of the survey respondents said that green activities and green building are part of their firms’ growth strategies. 

With relation to glass, Murray said that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is one of a few major legislative actions that has spurred on construction work. The act offers tax credits for, among other things, energy-efficient doors, windows and film.

Murray also noted that a federal executive order in January set energy and environmental goals for federal agencies, including an energy reduction of 3 percent per year through 2015 or 30 percent by 2015. 

“There’s been a lot more emphasis placed on green building practices,” Murray said. 

CMI Opens Manufacturing Plant in Texas
CraftMaster Manufacturing Inc. (CMI) in Chicago has opened a new door-manufacturing plant in Garland, Texas, to produce its complete line of CraftMaster® Interior Doors. The 253,000-square-foot facility, located northeast of Dallas, is the company’s third door-manufacturing plant, joining others in Christiansburg, Va., and Ozark, Ala.

CMI purchased the existing site in October 2006, installed production machinery and began shipping finished interior door products in May 2007.CMI says it chose the Garland location for its strategic shipping access throughout Texas, as well as its proximity to Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Huttig Sells Wisconsin Distribution Facility
Huttig Building Products has announced an agreement to sell the assets of its Howard distribution facility in Green Bay, Wis. The company says it expects this deal to close in the second quarter of 2007. This follows a string of closings for the company, as it also closed facilities that have underperformed, according to Huttig, in Spokane, Wash., Hauppage, N.Y., and Dothan, Ala.

“We believe the last of our major cost reduction efforts will shake out during the second quarter of 2007, and we are already transitioning our strategy to focus more fully on expanding market share while continuing to monitor and control expenses and working capital,” says Jon P. Vrabely, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

Lupus Capital Plc Acquires Laird Security Systems Division
Lupus Capital Plc has finalized the acquisition of the Laird Security Systems Division, which includes the United States-based Amesbury Group. 

Amesbury, which designs, manufactures and distributes products and solutions for the fenestration industry, says it complements Lupus Capital’s existing Schlegel Building Products activities in the United States and offers the potential for selling Amesbury products through Schlegel’s international distribution network.

Schlegel’s core manufacturing competencies are continuously molded urethane foam, narrow fabric textiles and extruded plastics. The company is a producer of urethane foam (compression seals) and woven pile (sliding seals) for the door and window market and sells its products in more than 75 countries.

The Schlegel U.S. operations will be managed under the Amesbury Group’s Sealing Solutions Division under the overall leadership of president Rich Koopmann. 

Lupus Capital will look to use the Amesbury Group as a platform for growth and will work with the management to drive operational improvements through the business, to pursue organic growth opportunities, new product development and to make add-on acquisitions where they will add value, according to Amesbury.

“The opportunity to combine Schlegel’s product range and expertise with our existing operations in the United States is a very positive development for the business and our customers,” says Koopmann. “ … Our primary goal is to ensure a smooth transition and nothing less than an enhancement to your current relationship with either company. Schlegel is an excellent company with values and people similar to ours. We are very excited about this alliance and look forward to offering a full range of products to the industry.”


© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.