Attendees Say First-Ever Fenestration Day Was Great Success

March 22nd, 2010 by Editor

Door and window manufacturers who attended the first-ever Fenestration Day on March 16 in Schaumburg, Ill., in conjunction with Glass Expo Midwest™, said they “would definitely attend again.” The day-long event packed in informative sessions on a variety of topics.

“The diverse topics were are all relative, especially Marc LaFrance from DOE and the speakers who addressed the lead paint legislation which goes into effect April 22nd,” said David Stewart, director of business development and government relations for Euramax International Inc.

Specific Steps Toward Being Green

One such session was the presentation “Specific Steps to Take Toward Being Green.” Panelists included Eric Gerstenbacher and Ken Keil from Northeast Building Products in Philadelphia, Pa.

Gerstenbacher admitted that when the company began some of its efforts such as recycling the company had another type of “green” in mind–the monetary kind. The company recycled to save money on trash pickup and other costs.

The company also undertook other simple measures such as reducing the lighting in its plant at night resulting in a savings of enough kWh to run a typical household for one year.

As the company’s efforts evolved it made a commitment to reduce the amount of waste it sends to the landfill.

“Do your dumpster dives,” said Keil. “Look at what you’re throwing away.”

Gerstenbacher urged companies to not give up when looking for others who may have a need for your scrap. For example, the company searched for two years for someone to take its foam left over from the foam-filling process and now they finally have two people interested.

“Don’t give up,” said Keil.

“It just means talking to the right folks and persistence,” said Gerstenbacher.

They also gave valuable tips for how to get employees involved in these efforts from all areas of the company.

“Rational people will make rational decisions given all the facts,” said Gerstenbacher. “Find a way to enlighten them.”

Back Up Green Claims

Later in the day, Steven Baker from the Federal Trade Commission addressed attendees concerning what they can and cannot say when making green claims.

“When people overstate claims is where they get into problems,” said Baker, who urged employees to simply “tell the truth and have substantiation.”

The Federal Trade Commission publishes the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (also known as the Green Guides) (CLICK HERE to view the guides . Also CLICK HERE for related article in DWM magazine. )

Information offered in the guides includes advice for making comparative claims and not overstating product attributes. One example of the latter is use of the word biodegradable.

“That’s one of our favorites,” joked Baker, who also cautioned attendees about using the word “recyclable.”

“Don’t say this unless a facility exists to recycle the material,” he said.

Another common claim is source reduction.

“If you really have an attribute that is different say what it is,” he added.

The FTC currently is updating its Green Guides and a new version will be out in the next few weeks. Stay tuned to DWM for future updates. He says the new version will include some new claims that have surfaced in recent years.

DOE Update

Marc LaFrance was just one of the many speakers at Fenestration Day.

Also in the energy arena, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Marc LaFrance provided attendees with an update on various DOE activities including the much talked about R5 windows volume purchase program. LaFrance stressed that this program is looking at the creation of a “cost effective” R5 product.

“There is an R11 window that is certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council, but we know that window is not cost-effective to produce,” said LaFrance.

“We’re interested in getting as many buyers as possible to gain interest in triple-pane windows,” he added.

Regarding phase two of Energy Star, LaFrance reported that the DOE will begin this analysis in the next three to fifteen months. Another focus of the DOE’s attention also will focus on product durability.

“We don’t have a qualified test procedure for the long-term durability of the whole window unit. We will place a renewed effort on that in the next fiscal year,” he says.

Evaluating the Road to Recovery

DWM columnist Michael Collins from Jordan Knuaff and Company reminded attendees that the industry is in for a slow recovery in 2010. He also pointed out that the effects of the stimulus package will be felt into 2012.

“Even if some stimulus money isn’t earmarked for construction, it is for things that will facilitate construction and that is good news for industry,” he said.

Collins also offered some additional advice for manufacturers so they may position themselves well during this period of recovery.

“Think about increasing your sales force,” said Collins. “There is a lot of talent out there. Develop an ongoing recruiting program.”

He also told attendees to remember a profitable but often forgotten segment of the industry.

“Don’t forget about multi-family housing,” he said. “These are very big jobs that can be profitable.”

He suggested attendees take the time to gather data such as shipping radius.

“Are your most distant customers still profitable to serve?” asked Collins.

Lobbying Your Legislators

While the fenestration industry definitely still has challenges to face there are also opportunities available and one of these is getting in front of legislators to get the voice of the industry heard. Never has this been more important than it is now.

DWM editor and publisher Tara Taffera offered examples of various door and window companies who have invited congressional representatives to their facilities in the past year, and how companies are making their voices heard.

She also offered practical advice from the National Association of Manufacturers for everything from how to set up a meeting, to how to conduct the meeting to follow up. CLICK HERE  to view that presentation.

Darryl Huber, president of the Northeast Window and Door Association, also offered specific examples of what the association has done to get the voices of the industry in front of elected officials. He offered some lessons learned from “bad meetings” and how to learn from that for future visits.

“And it’s not just congressional representatives and senators that the industry has to speak to,” said Huber.

“The EPA is the new player in town and we need to develop relationships with them,” he added.

He also stressed that it’s never too early to talk about a particular issue.

“I know there are some members who are already talking to their representatives about the 2011 energy tax credit,” he said.

For more news from Fenestration Day, look for the March newscast, which will be available next week.

CLICK HERE for details from the lead paint seminar held during Fenestration Day.

This article is from Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine's free e-newsletter that covers the latest door and window industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to [DWM] magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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