This past week, DWM carried a news story that set many of my industry peers’ hair on fire!

The International Code Council wrapped up ten days of hearings on Wednesday.  This forum is an amazing display of innovative ideas since many new products or processes must gain code approval before wide use is allowed. Our trade associations — AAMA and WDMA — represented our industry, as well as a handful of dedicated reps from the large corporations. It’s a complex, fast-paced and demanding event that runs up to 12 hours each days for ten days straight. We have a high appreciation for the work our reps do to sort through the thousands of change proposals, decide which ones are important to us (sometimes it’s difficult to tell) and gain consensus on how to vote. Things change quickly on the floor, and in five minutes all the politics can flip with a modification or a withdrawal. Given that background, the following proposal was approved:

“..RE146 … was approved, 7-3. This sets the baseline window area at 15 percent, which keeps the same penalty for window areas above 15 percent, but now also gives a credit for lowering window area below 15 percent. ‘This gives an incentive to reduce window area, which the window industry is obviously concerned about … In reality, this will probably not change things too drastically in the real world, as homeowners want windows and no one wants to live in a cave, but this incentive could cause designers to take out a window here and there, and is a concern.’ ”

In short, windows are not only limited for energy calculations, but credits are given for reducing windows and window sizes. Clearly our story of the many benefits of windows for safety, daylighting, solar gain, natural ventilation, view and value is not resonating with the builders and code officials who decide on the rules. A blank wall cannot provide any of these benefits to the homeowner or occupant.

What can we do about this? I suggest the following:

1. Support the trade association of your choice and get involved with the code committee — it’s open for your input. Encourage them to offer counter proposals for the next round of ICC that could modify this decision;

2. Provide innovative ideas and new products that support the six key benefits above and get them to market;

3. Promote the fact that windows are certified and tested more than any other building product;

4. Promote the benefits to your customers and builder customers of your innovative windows and doors emphasizing what more windows will do to sell their homes;

5. Select one  person from your company to be the contact for code issues. Don’t let the code be written for you, and;

6. Keep innovating and promote the fact that windows are better than walls.


  1. Ray
    Why not make the window area a function of the U-value provided by such windows?

  2. Jim,
    I agree!! we should allow designers, builders and homeowners to select the window to wall ratio they want for their home or building. There should be no penalties..
    Ray G

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