Code council strikes down alternative thermal performance rating procedure again

June 6, 2007
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During last week’s meeting of the International Code Council, a committee voted against a proposal that would have allowed for an alternative thermal performance rating procedure from Schaumberg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association. This is the second time the EC-9 code change proposal has gone before the Washington, D.C., code organization.

The ICC Final Action Hearings were May 21-26 in Rochester, N.Y.

“[AAMA 507] was modified based on comments received by the IECC committee last fall,” says Ken Brenden, codes and industry affairs manager for AAMA.

The proposal, backed by the Glass Association of North America of Topeka, Kan., and the Aluminum Extruders Council of Wauconda, Ill., would have amended the International Energy Conservation Code to permit use of AAMA 507-07 as a standard practice for determining thermal performance of fenestration systems in commercial buildings.

The current IECC only recognizes use of NFRC 100, an energy-rating system from the National Fenestration Rating Council in Silver Spring, Md., and requires determination of thermal performance values by use of default tables included in the IECC or labeling in accordance with NFRC 100.

“Unfortunately, the opponents of AAMA 507, non of whom truly represent commercial framing manufacturers, once again opposed the concept of adopting an alternative thermal rating procedure for the commercial framing industry,” Brenden says.

Tom Culp, owner of Birch Point Consulting in La Crosse, Wis., says he is not surprised by the committee’s decision. “It is very difficult to overturn the committee at the final hearings, especially on a big issue which is new to the code officials, like AAMA 507,” Culp says. “However, we had addressed all of the committees concerns, and we were hoping the code officials would understand the legitimate need for including AAMA 507 in the codes.”

Jim Benney, executive director of NFRC supports the council’s decision and says the addition of AAMA 507-07 as an alternative to NFRC 100 could have an unintended effect of requiring manufacturers to test and rate their products to both standards. “Multiple ratings would likely lead to confusion in the marketplace,” Benney says. “The possibility that manufacturers could use the rating that simply gives them better values undermines the benefit of a single, independent and unbiased rating program, which NFRC provides.”

Culp, along with many other industry representatives, says manufacturers could benefit by having a choice of ratings. “The current NFRC program for sitebuilt fenestration is simply not working in the commercial sector,” he says. “We’ve provided strong data that it is being used in far less than 1 percent of the commercial buildings being built each year, and the vast majority of code officials have never seen a NFRC sitebuilt certificate in actual use.”

Brenden says he doesn’t know whether the proposal will be brought before the ICC again.

“Whether or not [AAMA 507] is brought forward for the next code cycle is a decision that will be made by the membership as AAMA operates through a consensus process,” Brenden says.