Volume 47, Issue 2 - February 2012


AAMA Evolves
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association Commemorates 75 Years

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) is celebrating its 75th anniversary at its upcoming annual conference (see “AAMA’s Diamond Jubilee,” at the end of this page). Rich Walker, president and CEO of AAMA, talked with USGlass about how the association has changed over 75 years and how it continues to work to change the industry.

USG: Can you describe how AAMA and its mission have evolved since its founding?

RW: Since 1936, AAMA has stood as a strong advocate for manufacturers and professionals in the fenestration industry, dedicated to the promotion of quality window, door, curtainwall, storefront and skylight products. This mission has been validated several times over the years by the board of director’s strategic planning committee. New frame materials and market growth are the basis for the evolution of AAMA over the past 75 years.

USG: How has AAMA helped change the glass and fenestration industry in 75 years?
RW: It’s developed and updated performance specifications and test methods referenced in many national and state building codes, leading to higher performing products and a level playing field, and making it more difficult for substandard products and imports to compete in the U.S.

AAMA’s promoted the acceptance of new materials, technologies and products—vinyl, fiberglass, insulating glass. This translated into improvements in energy efficiency, window safety and durability.

It’s provided support at the International Code Council and its regional precursor code organizations, ensuring that the regulatory environment did not discriminate against a material nor favor other energy saving building products at the expense of windows.

AAMA also continuously monitors and reports on national and state legislative and regulatory developments. It ensures that the collective voice of the fenestration industry is heard in the most influential regulatory arenas, committees and agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, and Ways and Means Committee).

AAMA began offering the original third-party product certification program over 40 years ago to provide manufacturers with the means to independently demonstrate product performance to their customers via the AAMA Certification Label.

During the upcoming Annual Conference, AAMA is finalizing its Green Product Certification Program—further evidence of our commitment to meeting today’s market demands.

Finally, AAMA’s provided statistical reports and AIA learning unit courses that equip customers, code officials and architects to make informed decisions about product performance and application.

USG: How does glass factor into AAMA’s work?

RW: Glass is an extremely important component of the majority of fenestration products. AAMA’s Glass Material Council works to provide technical, regulatory, legislative, marketing and certification support to AAMA membership ensuring appropriate standards are established and maintained.

The Council provides a vital communication link with other glass trade associations. Most recently, AAMA has partnered with both the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and the Glass Association of North America to support important code revisions and conduct important glass dependent research (i.e. thermal stress and gas permeability).

USG: How does AAMA resolve tensions among building product groups—specifically wood, vinyl and aluminum windows?
RW: As a longstanding material-neutral organization, AAMA promotes the benefits of all materials used to build windows, doors and skylights. The key to peaceful co-existence is the emphasis on and recognition of the vast majority of issues that all members agree upon. In addition, there are procedural safeguards and equal representation in key groups that prevent stacking the deck by a particular group of members. A super majority voting procedure is an example. Our marketing policies require positive product promotion only—undermining competing materials is not permitted in all AAMA activities.

AAMA suppliers also play a key role in mitigating conflict. With equal voting privileges, AAMA supplier members often serve different material markets and therefore have common interests in both the residential and commercial market segments. Suppliers facilitate compromise and help forge workable solutions on controversial code and product performance issues.

The inevitable differences arise. Representing such a vast selection of building product groups can lead to interesting debates but, in the end, it leads to better standards, better literature, better products and a stronger voice.

USG: What is one program/document/practice AAMA has put in place that you feel everyone in the industry should know?
RW: 101/I.S. 2/A440 – NAFS [North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Unit Skylights] is performance-based and material-neutral. It’s the industry’s flagship document.

USG: When AAMA is celebrating its 100th anniversary, what do you hope the group will be working on?
RW: A number of things:
• Safety-related codes and standards, and AAMA’s members’ contributions to protecting occupants from both natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes and other safety/security hazards like bullets, bombs and radio frequency interference.

• The diversity and depth of the industry, and AAMA’s contribution to educating and mentoring the next generation of knowledgeable industry leaders.

• The global marketplace, and AAMA’s members’ contributions to a stronger U.S. economy through a solid manufacturing base that supports good business practices at home and abroad.

• The promotion of windows as appliances—functioning as large monitors for computers and televisions or replicators of outside scenic vistas such as beaches and mountains.

• Surfaces that adapt to the environment, and the prevalent use of electrochromics that will regulate sunlight and provide privacy.

• Nanotechnology that enables affordable fenestration to be more energy-efficient than the walls that surround it.

USG: Your keynote speaker will talk about “inspired leadership through challenging times.” Can you share how some of the earlier leaders of AAMA have impacted the organization and the industry?
RW: In 1994, AAMA reorganized to better accommodate the materials neutral position, while at the same time allowing isolated forums to address materials specific issues. Sigi Valentin, Georges Thiret and Chuck Gilderman spent countless hours developing a unique structure to maintain balance and allow AAMA to accommodate new regional and market growth. This structure has served AAMA well, as borne out in the increases in membership since 1994.

One of our honorary members, Lyon Evans, just passed away in early December at the age of 93 (see page 54). He was extremely influential to AAMA’s beginnings. Sixty-five years ago, Lyon helped form and was the key technical member of the then “new association,” the Architectural Aluminum Manufacturers Association.

USG: AAMA has met at some exciting destinations. What is one conference that stands out in your memory as being particularly remarkable?
RW: Our 70th Annual Conference at Marco Island, Fla. With many past presidents in attendance, it was made special by the attendees rather than the venue!

AMA’s 75 Years
1936 – Began as the Non-ferrous Metal Window Institute (NFMWI).
1945 – Reorganized after World War II to become the American Window Manufacturers Association (AWMA).
1950 – AWMA merged with the Aluminum Window Institute (AWI), further unifying the industry. Separate specifications were developed for residential and architectural windows. These specifications served as the basis for the product certification program.
1960 – AWMA began working with the sliding glass door and window institute (SGD/WI). Performance specification were developed for sliding glass patio doors.
1972 – ANSI granted accreditation to AWMA’s Certification Program. The first third party U.S. window certification program was certified by ANSI.
1978 – The Skylights and Space Enclosures Division was formed.
1980 – AWMA absorbed Associated Certification Inc. (ACI) and formed the Manufactured Housing Components Division.
1984 – AAMA amended its charter to bring in frame materials other than aluminum. The Vinyl Window and Door Division was formed, and the current acronym for AAMA adopted.

AAMA’s Diamond Jubilee
AAMA is celebrating its diamond anniversary at this year’s annual conference, taking place February 26-29 at the Naples Grande in Naples, Fla. In addition to a full schedule of meetings, presentations and networking events, the meeting will commemorate the 75 years that have passed since AAMA’s founding and honor those whose leadership and contributions have brought the association to where it is today.

Among the conference highlights is a planned keynote speech by former Navy Seal, Rhodes Scholar, humanitarian and national champion boxer, Eric Greitens. Greitens is also the founder of the Center for Citizen Leadership. He addresses a broad range of subjects important to today’s companies, including leadership and social responsibility, the next generation of American leadership, and service and the humanitarian ethic.

Making a difference will be something of a theme at this event. During the annual awards banquet and reception diamond jubilee, outstanding member award winners will be recognized for their contributions to AAMA’s progress. Later, Mary Garcia, corporate relations director of World Vision, will present the Fourth Annual World Vision Fenestration Humanitarian Award. The 2011 award will be given to an AAMA partner that has shown a sincere dedication to help others, and a commitment to invest with World Vision, to make a transformational difference across the U.S.

Of course, AAMA members will be working to make a difference through regular committee meetings, as well.

Among other activities, the FenestrationMasters Development Task Group will meet to discuss the progress of the FenestrationMasters training program, including certification exam details. This initiative covers every aspect of the fenestration industry, so all members are encouraged to participate. The Aluminum Material Council will have a special presentation on “New Structure and Procedure in the Qualicoat Organization/Results of Studies and Researches.” It will focus on the different standards and testing procedures that Qualicoat enforces for various types of environments; standard quality specifications and tests for difficult environments such as coastal areas; marine grade type finishes and tests; and new projects and initiatives. The Alternative Accelerated Weathering Task Group will hear a presentation where members can learn about and discuss unknown variables and other phenomena. Topics will include the benefits of accelerated weather testing, common equipment used to accelerate exposures, fluorescent and ultraviolet lamps, science and fundamentals of accelerated weathering and correlations between accelerated testing and actual outdoor exposure.

From the opening general session, where important conference topics and new developments within the association and the industry will be introduced, to the closing session, with its reports of all conference activities within each council, members will be hard at work at developing future resources for the industry.

For more information about the conference, and to register, visit www.aamanet.org.


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