Associations Come Together to Form Fenestration LCA
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
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
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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