Volume 8, Issue 9 - October 2007

AAMA Analysis

Florida Code Changes Spur Sunroom Certification
by Dean Lewis

Anyone in the building and construction industry knows that the horrendous 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons spawned an unprecedented degree of research into the effects of wind and water, resulting in intensive code development activity in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. In addition to the obvious efforts to protect against high winds, provisions are being added to prevent damage from the impact of windborne debris and water penetration from severe wind-driven rain.

In terms of fenestration, the obvious focus of these changes has been primary doors and windows that are part of the main building envelope. Sunrooms–a genre that includes everything from porch and patio covers to air-conditioned solariums–have come under scrutiny recently as well. For example, the 2008 Florida Building Code will likely increase requirements for these structures to meet the same performance criteria.

The groundwork was laid in 2002 with AAMA/NPEA/NSA 2100-02, Voluntary Specifications for Sunrooms. This document, adopted by the 2004 Florida Building Code, defines the uses, occupancies and limitations for such structures; defines minimum performance requirements for their fenestration products; and sets forth overall structural design and thermal performance criteria.

However, there has been no means in place to verify compliance with this standard.

To fill this void, as well as to provide an objective means for homeowners to verify manufacturers’ and dealers’ quality claims, AAMA has been working to develop a credible third-party voluntary sunroom certification program similar to that long used to certify the performance of doors and windows.

Documentation of the testing, certification and labeling protocols needed to establish the program are now being finalized. The current draft of the Sunroom Certification Program Procedural Guide that has emerged from summer AAMA task group meetings postulates a program essentially the same as that under which doors and windows are certified for their conformance with the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S. 2/A440-05 standard for doors, windows and unit skylights. Key program elements will include:

  • Independent testing of sunroom components by AAMA-accredited testing laboratories;
  • Approval of the licensee’s (participating manufacturer’s) in-plant quality control system and its ability to ensure compliance;• Semiannual unannounced inspections of the licensee’s plant; 
  • Application of certification labels by the manufacturer at the time of production; and
  • Publication of certified products in a Certified Products Directory.

The program is being developed to adhere to the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 65, General Criteria for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems, and ISO/IEC 17020, General Requirements for the Operation of Various Types of Bodies Performing Inspection. This will pave the way for eventual ANSI accreditation of the program.

The governing performance criteria for certification are those set forth in AAMA/NPEA/NSA 2100-02. An AAMA task group is currently undergoing its portion of the document’s review in accordance with an agreement signed by the three organizations in 2001. The criteria from this specification include structural, water leakage and air infiltration requirements, roof loading and deflection limits, thermal performance (for fully enclosed air-conditioned sunrooms) and foundation requirements. The current review of AAMA/NPEA/NSA 2100-02 is addressing dynamic vs. static air pressure testing, the role of the referenced ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria documents (e.g., AC340, Acceptance Criteria for Patio Covers) and additional ASTM test method references.

The AAMA task group continues to discuss how to handle the verification and labeling of the final installation, as sunrooms are typically shipped in “knocked-down” form for field assembly. Options include the provision of in-depth installation guidelines.

Noting that the development work is proceeding “faster than expected,” the AAMA task group is aiming to resolve the open issues this year in anticipation of launching the sunroom certification program sometime in 2008. 

Dean Lewis serves as manager, product certification, for AAMA based in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be reached at dlewis@aamanet.org. Mr. Lewis’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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