Volume 12, Issue 8 - October 2011

Energy and Environmental News

Associations Come Together to Form Fenestration LCA Group

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Glass Association of North America (GANA), the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide coordinated representation for the fenestration industry. The action is in response to requests from certain organizations related to life cycle assessments (LCA) for window and glass manufacturing. The third parties are the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

NREL originally contacted the Institute for Environmental Research & Education, an environmental consultancy, to develop product category rules (PCR) for windows LCA, says Helen Sanders, past chair of GANA’s former energy committee, and vice president of technical business development for Sage Electrochromic.

“The key reason you need to create product category rules is if you want to create environmental product labels – or environmental product declarations (EPD) – that provide quantitative information about a particular product’s carbon footprint and other environmental impacts,” she says. “To create an environmental product label, you need to do an LCA for the product using the agreed upon PCRs. Hav-ing standard PCRs ensure that everyone’s EPDs are comparable, since they are created using the same procedures.”

An NREL consultant is working on developing the PCR for windows, while the four glass organizations are working together and as part of a broader stakeholder group to provide input and guidance to the PCR development.

Separately, NIST is developing a limited LCA tool for whole buildings. A key purpose of this tool will be to demonstrate to government and other regulatory bodies the benefits of improving code stringency, Sanders says.

“They will look at both the energy efficiency of the building during the use phase, as well as the environment footprint from cradle to grave,” she says. “In order to develop this tool, NIST needs LCA data on key components of the building, including fenestration.”

"While the objective of the task group is not to necessarily reach a consensus position, we are ensuring that our respective member interests are being addressed."
—Margaret Webb, IGMA

“The Window Industry Ad Hoc Product Category Rules Task Group had a very productive face-to-face meeting in Chicago,” says Richard Walker, president and chief executive officer of AAMA. “With 100 percent attendance, representatives from AAMA, GANA, IGMA and WDMA hammered out two tables full of critical assumptions for the NIST Sustainability Calculator.” The assumptions included U-factors and SHGC, along with window type, operability and window-to-wall ratios for model building types, he says. “This work provides the foundation for standardizing and analyzing the environmental credentials of windows. In LCA terminology, the assumptions are the basis for the development of window PCRs that will be the guidelines for developing specific LCA values through EPDs.”

“IGMA is pleased to be working with GANA and other organizations on another joint effort, this time on LCA,” says Margaret Webb, executive director at IGMA. “We are setting historical precedent with the joint AAMA, GANA, IGMA and WDMA LCA task group. LCA has come at us out of left field and the industry is well represented by all four organizations as we work with NIST and NREL. While the objective of the task group is not to necessarily reach a consensus position, we are ensuring that our respective member interests are being addressed.

“It’s particularly important that the industry works closely together on this as the role of LCAs, what they cover and how they are performed for fenestration, evolves to ensure the net benefit that is derived from the use of efficient fenestration is fully understood, accounted for and communicated,” says Jeff Inks, vice president of code and regulatory affairs for WDMA.
Within the next couple of months, members of each of the participating industry organizations will be sent confidential questionnaires intended to gather relevant data covering frame manufacturing, IGU production and window assembly, Walker says.


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