Rich Walker, president and CEO the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), briefed members of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Oversight Task Group today regarding its latest efforts regarding LCA. The meeting was held as part of the association’s annual conference this week in Naples, Fla.

AAMA is one of four associations that have come together to study this complex issue. It is working with members of the Glass Association of North America, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance. Rita Schenck, executive director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Education, is assisting the group with its efforts as she has worked with other organizations on LCA. Representatives of the group also represent both the residential and commercial window industries.

Walker told AAMA attendees that the group is looking at everything from transportation, energy use, and packaging, to waste management and resource extraction.

The latter evoked some questions from attendees as where to get this data.

“Some of this is already standardized and there are databases to draw on,” said Ray Garries of Jeld-Wen, who is a member of the LCA group.

The group is using COMFEN, a tool from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as its energy model and is basing the research on a building that is 10 feet wide, 9 feet high and 20 feet deep.

“We put this out there but this could change,” said Walker.

Regarding durability, the group decided on a 30-year shelf life but currently is looking into this more, including a review of existing data.

“Curtainwall is another area we have to wrestle with more,” said Walker, who added that for now the document does not include doors.

The associations hope to have a working document complete this summer.

“When we are happy with the document, we will then have a validator go over it,” said Walker.

Future tasks of the group include performing an LCA study, developing a consumer facing label for big box stores, and planning a meeting with retailers with an example or a consumer label to gain feedback.

AAMA members in attendance had various questions and feedback. One asked, “Will this be another hoop for us to jump through?”

“It’s just another cost of doing business,” answered another.

Another attendee asked if this is redundant with AAMA’s green certification program under development. Those two programs are different, as LCA looks at sourcing of materials and other factors, Walker clarified.

While one attendee asked how the progress is going with all four groups working together, Walker answered that it is going very well and said, “The biggest challenges we have [with LCA] is the unknown.”

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