Richard Walker, president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), which represents window and door manufacturers, responds to the latest developments in implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's lead-safe renovation rules.
Replacement Contractor: AAMA is lobbying heavily for a bill that postpones implementation of the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting rule for one year from the date that accreditation classes began to be offered. If the bill passes, wouldn't that mean that postponement would be until October 2010, since classes began to be offered in October 2009?
Richard Walker: Yes, the industry position has been to postpone implementation for six months from April 22, 2010, in order to allow for an adequate number of contractors to receive training.
RC: What are the chances of this bill being adopted?
RW: Every day we learn of more congressional support.
RC: How many votes do you think you have?
RW: It is difficult to estimate the level of support with any accuracy right now.
RC: Architectural Testing cites a figure of $121 per opening as the cost of lead-safe renovation for window replacement. Does AAMA agree with that figure?
RW: Yes, AAMA agrees with the assumptions and material and labor estimates used by Architectural Testing to generate the additional cost of $121 per opening. This cost is based on a contractor and an assistant replacing six windows (four front and two sides) in the span of a normal day. The six windows cover three rooms, each measuring approximately 11 feet by 11 feet. Keep in mind that the additional costs of replacement respirator cartridges and HEPA vacuum filters are not included in the $121 per opening.
RC: In AAMA's view, what should the EPA do to inform Americans about the new lead-safe renovation rules and lead safety in the home? What steps would you like to see the agency take in regard to publicizing lead-safe renovation?RW: Appropriate education of homeowners is important to ensure that those compliant contractors are not undercut by non-compliant businesses. Not only is this important for the contractor, but also for the potential safety of the homeowner. At the very basic level, printed materials in big-box stores would be beneficial. For very little money, the government could also educate the public via Web pages or social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.
RC: You cite a "severe impact" on construction industry workers due to economic conditions in the last 24 months as a reason to delay lead-safe renovation rules. What in AAMA's estimation will be the impact of EPA lead-safe renovation regulations on sales of windows by units in the U.S. this year?
RW: Premature implementation of this rule launches three deleterious effects on the remodeling industry. First: There is a lack of trained contractors and firms. While slightly more than 50% of the firms may be certified, only 10% of the contractors are currently certified. Second: There is the additional cost to homeowners, many of whom are on a fixed income or are among the 15% currently unemployed. And third: The vast majority of homeowners has no idea what this rule entails and therefore will be reluctant to shell out more money for the protection.
U.S. window sales have recovered modestly from the 30% to 50% loss in business in the 2008-09 period, but are nowhere near their pre-recession levels. Rendering 65% of the housing stock off limits to the majority of window replacement contractors (currently not certified) will have a devastating impact and will deprive homeowners of a proven energy-efficient upgrade for their homes.