Volume 13, Issue 9 - November/December 2012
Last year, AAMA marked its 75th anniversary as an organization. This year, we quietly observe another milestone—the 50th anniversary of AAMA’s certification program. Since 1962, this original third-party fenestration performance verification program has provided manufacturers with the means to independently demonstrate product performance quality and regulatory compliance to both their customers and building officials.
The International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), several state codes and federal agencies (e.g., HUD) mandate that exterior doors, windows and skylights conform to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 – the North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for windows, doors, and skylights (NAFS). Such compliance, as well as guidance for architects, specifiers and astute building owners, is visibly and quickly demonstrated by third-party product certification and labeling.
After 50 years, this process has become pretty much routine for many manufacturers. However, evaluating door and window products has become a more confusing proposition, especially from the viewpoint of the specifier/buyer, end-user and building inspector.
This is because fenestration products are undeniably becoming more complex as performance expectations both diversify and tighten. Credible third-party verification is more important than ever, given the increasing array of operator types, framing materials, insulating glass (IG) configurations and performance requirements. These range from the basics (structural performance against wind loading and resistance to air infiltration and water penetration) to specific considerations such as thermal and condensation resistance, and disaster risk reduction in the form of impact and blast resistance, hurricane and tornado hazard mitigation. There are different challenges in different markets and for different types of constructions, ranging from commercial and residential to modular and HUD.
Unless the manufacturer participates as a licensee in an authentic, accredited third-party certification program, there is no independent verification of test results and no follow-up inspection to verify that actual production-line units continue to meet the requirements. And, they may not identify their products with the definitive AAMA label, which is required by many building codes.
Don’t Forget the Value
Especially in a rough economy, some may tend to lose sight of the value and significance of product certification or be tempted to cut corners to save money. We must be cautious, however, that this does not dilute the credentials of 50 years of AAMA’s fenestration certification.
Ken Brenden serves as technical services manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill.