Volume 8, Issue 5 - May 2007


Final ICC Hearings: WDMA Proposals Aim to Level the Playing Field 
by Mike Fischer

The International Code Council (ICC) Final Action Hearings are set for Rochester, N.Y, May 21 to 26 and will include consideration of dozens of code proposals of interest to the fenestration industry as a whole. 

For WDMA members, the most significant proposal being considered would provide material-neutral commercial energy provisions and remove the discriminatory requirements that serve currently as a kind of affirmative action for metal-framed fenestration products. 

With the completion of these upcoming hearings, the 2006-2007 ICC code cycle will be all but complete and the industry will prepare submittals for the next cycle due in August. While the current cycle is an interim process and will result in a supplemental code publication, the August submittals will be the first step toward the 2009 editions of the International Codes.

The Final Action Hearings include code proposals subject to public comments after the completion of code development committee hearings that were held last September in Orlando, Fla. WDMA’s interest in proposals in the upcoming hearings crosses several of the International Codes, encompassing myriad technical issues. 

Advocating Balance…
WDMA has been advocating material-neutral prescriptive fenestration standards for energy efficiency. This balanced approach ensures that no industry segments are left out of the prescriptive provisions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and that credit is given for products that exceed the efficiency standards. Some of the existing IECC requirements discriminate on the basis of frame type. WDMA’s proposals seek to eliminate the unfair product bias found currently in the prescriptive table for commercial fenestration products by eliminating any differentiation for framing material. In the case of skylights, the association has worked with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association to propose values for U-Factor and solar heat gain coefficient that will allow manufacturers of all frame types to participate. 

In essence, contractors who select products that perform above the prescriptive levels will potentially be able to take advantage of building envelope trade-offs among other energy features. This leveling of the playing field ensures that all products will receive credit for their energy performance, while still subject to the same code requirements in other areas including structural performance and resistance to impact from windborne debris in hurricane prone regions. 

…Advocating Expansion
In the case of vertical fenestration elements, the WDMA proposal provides separate requirements for storefront, curtainwall and entrance door systems, regardless of frame type. While metal framing is most often used in these systems, the proposal would provide an incentive for manufacturers to develop products using other materials, such as composite framing, that could provide greater energy efficiency. Since the structural requirements would not be compromised, the products would be selected based upon overall compliance. Other elements of vertical fenestration, including factory-built window units, would have a range of energy performance requirements that result in increased stringency as the glazing area increases. This proposal is the best way to remove material bias, provide realistic options for product selection and create a tradeoff incentive for the contractor to use more energy efficient products.

The WDMA proposals remove material bias, provide for all framing materials, consider specialty systems including curtainwall assemblies that do not feature the same energy performance as other types of end-uses and encourage the use of energy-efficient fenestration products. 

Michael Fischer of the Kellen Company is director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. He may be reached at MFischer@wdma.com. Mr. Fischer’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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