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AAMA Meeting Concludes Today

Show Highlight: Members View Hurricane Simulator Up-Close
The University of Florida brought its mobile windstorm simulator to the fall meeting of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, held in Orlando this week, so members could see the world's largest portable hurricane simulator of its kind.

AAMA members were interested to see the hurricane simulator in action.
The simulator—calibrated recently to create actual recorded wind-driven rain scenarios—provides a realistic evaluation of building products and test methods intended for hurricane-prone regions.

“We’re bringing the lab to the hurricane then bringing the hurricane to the lab,” says Forrest Masters, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida (UF). He adds that the university has the largest collection of field observation equipment in the world.

The apparatus is mounted on a trailer and composed of eight 5-foot-high industrial fans powered by four marine engines that collectively produce 2,800 horsepower. It is designed to blast building mock-ups with winds of up to 130 mph–Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–and high-pressure water jets that mimic torrential wind-driven rain of up to 35inches per hour.

AAMA is a huge supporter of the project. In fact, the association invested $60,000 recently to donate a Precipitation Imaging Probe (PIP) to UF (only ten of these exist), to further the university’s hurricane research, which includes studying wind-driven rain.

“The project is taking on a whole new direction due to AAMA,” says Masters.

“This is the heart of the matter [wind-driven rain]. We’re looking at it and how to prevent that.”

Although most residential and light commercial properties that are built in compliance with current codes will physically withstand hurricane winds, water intrusion through windows and walls remains a recurring issue. When rain penetrates these exterior building products and their assemblies, it often causes significant interior damage, occupant displacement, business interruption and extensive restoration expenses, according to AAMA.

“The information gathered will help us ensure performance of the windows, doors and wall assemblies under real-world hurricane conditions, and ultimately, protect more people and properties from costly damages,” says AAMA president Rich Walker.

Though AAMA members witnessed this in a controlled setting, that’s not usually the case. “This is a fairly risky endeavor,” says Masters. “We’re setting up equipment in 60- to 70-mph winds.” He then added jokingly, “We always save seats for industry folks.”

CLICK HERE to see the simulator in action.

Additional News from the Meeting

While the hurricane simulator was the big buzz of the meeting, other issues generated interest as well such as a few new councils and committees that were formed.

One of these, the Wall Interface Materials Council, will address issues related to where the window stops and the wall starts. A Green Building and Sustainability group was also formed. However, as these groups are in their infancy, much of the discussion centered around details such as name and scope of the group.

For example, the Green Building and Sustainability group discussed whether it should function as a task group or committee, though it didn’t reach a conclusion about this.

Attendees did determine that the group should not be a technical task group. Issues to be determined include whether the group wants to develop a green building certification program or look into creation of a green tag on a window label.

The group’s chair, Steve Fronek of Wausau, said they’d have to move quickly on that decision as other groups are “hot on this trail as well.”

You can’t talk about “green” without talking about energy issues, and this was discussed in several meetings, including the Codes and Regulatory Affairs Committee. AAMA’s codes consultant Julie Ruth gave members an update on the energy legislation and offered some insight on whether this legislation will become law ultimately.

She noted that HR 3221 was approved and now has to go to conference. This summer, the House of Representatives approved a bill that calls for a 30-percent reduction in energy use from the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential building and 2004 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1 for commercial building by 2010. By 2020, the bill's goal is to reduce energy use even further in both commercial and residential building, by 50 percent. By 2050, the bill aims for all new commercial buildings to be "zero net energy"—meaning that the building produces as much energy as it consumes. The bill currently is under review in the Senate.

“This is some very ambitious legislation,” says Ruth.

She says that if the legislation passes and the goals outlined are not met then the Department of Energy would take over development of the energy codes.

As far as whether the legislation will pass she says it depends on to what party you talk.

Some lobbyists say that since the Senate version was introduced last week, S2078, it is more likely to pass.

Whatever the outcome, Ruth says these bills signal the energy and code landscape is changing.

“Even if this legislation doesn’t go through there will be an increased push for energy efficiency,” she says.

AAMA held a supplier product display and reception for members to mingle with peers and check out the latest indsustry products and services.

NAFS Document Near Completion
At the conclusion of the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) Task Group, chairman Ray Garries thanked members for 18 months of work on this 200-page standard, which includes thousands of comments and tens of thousands of hours of work. The document currently is in its third ballot and almost complete.

Paul Warner Retires
Mikron’s Paul Warner, a 22-year member of AAMA, is getting ready to retire, so AAMA members recognized him during Monday’s lunch. Warner chaired the Codes and Regulatory Affairs Committee, was a board member, was named the association’s outstanding member in 2001 and has attended 61 AAMA conferences, according to Walker. Following his introduction, AAMA members honored Warner with a standing ovation.

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