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USGNN Original StorySkylight Makers Say .30/.30 Provision is a Big Challenge
May 18, 2009

While the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has raised concerns for many in window companies, they are not only ones. Some skylight manufacturers have also found issues with the .30/.30 provision. According to Roger LeBrun, product certification engineer for VELUX America Inc., the bill was crafted from a windows mindset.

"There are no residentially designed skylights on the market with an NFRC rating that will meet .30/.30," says LeBrun. "The arbitrary U-factor limits for windows and doors were incorrectly applied to skylights."

LeBrun explains that vertical windows are installed flush to the wall, while skylights by code must project 4 inches from the building in order to not be a hazard to those who may be working on the roof area.

"In addition, the NFRC rating says the skylight has to be rated on a 20-percent slope, which induces thermal currents on the insulating glass," says LeBrun. "If you take a window, have it rated and it meets .30/.30, that same unit on a 20-percent slope rates about 70 percent higher."

"There are fundamental differences between skylights and windows," adds Chris Magnuson, Wasco president and first vice chair of AAMA's skylight council. "Skylights always tend to be overlooked."

In a statement from Velux regarding the possible negative impacts this legislation could have on the skylight industry, company officials wrote, "We applaud Congress on its support of the depressed housing market. This stimulus bill can make an impact, but not with requirements that cannot be achieved."

LeBrun adds, "The only way this can be reversed is through amending the law; I'm sure that out of that entire document this is not the only issue and I hope there is an opportunity for a technical correction."

To that end, the company has initiated a grass-roots national legislator letter writing appeal.

Wasco, located in Maine, is equally concerned and has also contacted members of Congress including Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

"Collins' office said they are working to change it while Snowe's office sent a form letter, which didn't address any of our issues," said Magnuson. "We've certainly spoken up to AAMA as well," Magnuson added. "They are definitely aware that we are in a different situation."

AAMA also initiated a grassroots letter writing campaign and one of the letters addressed skylights specifically.

"This standard was arbitrarily set for skylights and is virtually impossible to achieve, and no dual pane unit skylight sold in the U.S. today meets the stated requirement," the letter stated.

While waiting to see what happens, Magnuson said Wasco is working on new products.

"We're trying to scramble to come up with a triple-glazed unit that would qualify," he says.

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