NTA Newsletter Q1 2015

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Lumber Liquidators and Formaldehyde

The recent 60 Minutes story on Lumber Liquidators and Formaldehyde has made a number of people in the composite wood industry raise questions regarding compliance with California’s formaldehyde laws. There is a lot of speculation about what did or didn’t happen with Lumber Liquidators Formaldehyde levels, and what does the California “Airborne Toxic Control Measure to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products” require from a company which buys and resells product within that state. The actual code section dealing with formaldehyde is CA93120 and within various composite wood industries it is also referred to as CARB requirements, although the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has a

CA93120 is concerned with formaldehyde emissions from any composite wood products sold in California. Their approach to regulating formaldehyde emissions is to start with the manufacturer, but put responsibility for formaldehyde compliance on every entity which handles the composite wood from manufacture to retail. CA93120 talks about importers and distributors (like Lumber Liquidators), fabricators and retailers, and many companies take on several of these rolls. For the most part, these importers, distributors, fabricators and retailers are pass through entities, which means they don’t do anything to the material which would affect the formaldehyde emissions of the composite wood product. They still need to be able to back up the fact that the material is compliant with CA93120. That requires more that just a marketing document which says the material is formaldehyde compliant. CA93120 says that these entities must:

“…take reasonable prudent precautions to ensure that the composite wood products and composite wood products contained in finished goods that they purchase are in compliance.”

The question becomes what does reasonable and prudent precaution mean and how does an importer, distributor, fabricator or retailer prove that they are taking prudent precautions? CA93120 lists four items which that importers, distributors, fabricators and retailers must do at a minimum:

  • Instructing each supplier that the goods they supply must comply with the applicable emission standard.
  • Obtaining documentation from each supplier that the materials supplied comply with the applicable emission standard.
  • Retain records for 2 years showing the date of purchase and the supplier of the composite wood products and finished goods.
  • Retain records for 2 years documenting the precautions taken to ensure that the composite wood products and composite wood products contained in finished goods comply with applicable emission standards.

Each of these items can be implemented through a good quality control system. For item 1, write it into your purchasing contract and make sure they have signed it. Item 2 is part of an incoming material check. All material must be labeled in accordance with the formaldehyde program. Additionally, CA93120 requires that materials have bill of ladings or invoices which have a statement of formaldehyde compliance. A receiver should be checking this documentation and if your supplier doesn’t have the correct information, they aren’t following the program. Items 3 and 4 are about retaining the records for 2 years. Remember that if you don’t document it, it never happened. The purpose is so that if CARB is investigating a composite wood product you supplied, you can show that you did everything required to insure that the material was formaldehyde compliant. Item 4 references “precautions taken”. This is where the question “What precautions need to be taken?” usually appears. Here are some ideas which could be implemented as “Precautions.”

  • Require additional documentation regarding formaldehyde compliance from the manufacturer. CA93120 requires manufacturer to perform QC testing at least weekly.
  • Require your supplier to provide that documentation with the materials much like a steel mill might provide mill certs with a coil of steel.
    Have a 3rd party monitor your quality control system. An outside entity who will give an unbiased statement about whether your program is being followed. Did the receiver actually check the records?
  • Run a verification testing program. Contract with an outside laboratory to test material from the batches received. This could be as frequent as every batch of material, or on a case by case basis when “suspect” batches arrive. CA93120 has provisions for a manufacturer to have an internal lab monitored by the TPC. There is no reason that a importers, distributors, fabricators and retailers couldn’t do the same thing.

The formaldehyde requirements are not something that Lumber Liquidators alone must adhere to. Any importer, distributor, fabricator or retailer must be in compliance with CARB.

NTA as a 3rd party testing, inspection and certification agency is equipped to help your company implement these precautions. NTA is TPC-025 under the CA93120 program. We are staffed with engineers and technical experts with the formaldehyde testing knowledge you need and we are geared towards the customer service you want.

To view a demonstration of Formaldehyde Testing (both small scale and large scale), visit the NTA videospage.

Here is a link to the 60 minutes story on Formaldehyde and Lumber Liquidators.

Improving Panel Testing – ASTM E72

One of the earliest test standards for building construction systems is ASTM E72. This standard defines how to test building panels in several applications, and the results can be used to determine if a building panel is code compliant. Due to advances in technology and building science that have changed the way this standard is used, a committee made up of product manufacturers, engineers, test labs and other third parties have revised, updated and approved new versions of the standard. Because these revisions change how racking testing is performed, it’s important to keep abreast of the updates over the last several years.

One of the more recent revisions to ASTM E72 began in 2013, when an additional dial gauge was added to measure the compression in shear walls. The compression is subtracted from the system to determine net deflection, which results in a lower, more accurate net deflection during testing. This matches a common modification of the standard already used in many evaluation schemes.

Additionally, the acceptable range for moisture content of lumber was revised. Previously, it was required to be in the 12-15% range, but as this was found unnecessarily restrictive, the range has been extended to 6-15%. This revision allows product manufacturers more options so that test labs can complete their tests faster.

Additional changes in the 2014 version of ASTM E72 refine racking test procedures to ensure more suitable results. One important change is that the rate of loading is no longer set at a fixed rate. Now, the load can be changed to best suit each building panel product, and the outcome is a test result that is accurate for a specific product and its intended use.

As innovation continues in the construction industry, building panel manufacturers continue to build new, exciting products that perform in unique ways – it’s only natural that test standards, like ASTM E72 must also improve over time to continue providing reliable, repeatable information. The recent revisions to the racking test procedures are an improvement that offer a few more options for innovative products.

NTA offers video demonstrations of ASTM E72 on our multimedia page.

NTA is always up to date on the latest code and standard changes, and NTA has a nationally accredited lab that is a leader in panel testing. Our testing and certification programs have always been adaptable to your needs, so contact an NTA account manager for more information on ASTM E72 testing today!

Kim Coates Appointed Modular Director

NTA is happy to announce the appointment of Kim Coates to the position of Director of Modular Services. Kim has more than 25 years of experience with the modular industry, and in 2014, he made news when the Modular Building Institute (MBI) recognized his abilities by awarding Kim the Outstanding Achievement Award for his years of dedication and service to the association.

“Kim Coates years of experience in the modular industry will be a great compliment to the NTA team,” said David A. Tompos, president of NTA, “this is a positive step for us and our clients.”

Kim’s skillset covers the entire spectrum of building projects from pre-construction and estimating, all the way through to final project completion. His experiences in executive and business management, team development and training, as well as planning and project management, will be assets to the Modular Services Department of NTA. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) for the states of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona and California.

“I’ve known David Tompos since NTA first opened its doors,” said Kim Coates, “and I have always thought highly of NTA and their good reputation in the industry.”

NTA Helps Local Students Raise Scholarship Funds

On February 23 and 24, NTA opened its doors to NorthWood High School students for their annual Phone-A-Thon. This event raises thousands of dollars for scholarships to benefit local students who want to further their education.

The Phone-A-Thon has been held every year for the past 12 years. The fundraiser is a big part of the NorthWood Scholarship Foundation Fund for the Senior Class. Over the course of two nights, approximately 50 students split into two shifts, settled into NTA offices and begin making phone calls to family, friends, businesses and other individuals who contribute to the future of local students.

Several students stated that not only was the event fun, but that they were pleased with the amount of money that was raised. “I was very pleased with how much money we raised,” said Blakely Lengacher, “I was in the shift that raised over $10,000.” This year, the fundraiser brought $24,801 into the general fund that will be distributed to graduating NorthWood students that meet the foundations’ requirements.

NTA is proud to be a member of the Nappanee community and is pleased to be able to invest in the future of our young people.

CPS Completes Certification for Epitome System

NTA is excited to announce our newest product certification for Composite Panel Systems, LLC. The new NTA Listing Report (CPS053013-7) certifies CPS Panels (Epitome Foundation Walls), fiberglass-faced structural insulated panels, for use as below-grade foundation panels compliant with the International Building Code and International Residential Code. With completion of their NTA Listing Report, CPS advances their industry with their commitment to the highest quality standards.

“We are very pleased to have completed Product Certification for the Epitome Foundation Walls”, said Glenn Schiffmann, manager of CPS. “NTA, Inc. was extremely thorough and did an outstanding job of guiding us through the process.”

Headquartered in Eagle River, Wisconsin, CPS developed the Epitome Foundation System and they support the product from sale through installation. For more information on this or any other of their products, please contact Composite Panel Systems or NTA.

What’s changed in the IECC?

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) was established by the International Code Council to set the minimum requirements for energy efficiency in design and construction. Each component of the building envelope (ceiling and wall insulation, window U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and air infiltration) has minimum performance levels listed in the IECC that must be met. Revised every three years, the IECC has kept pace with new technologies to increase energy efficiency in residential and commercial structures. In the latest version, for 2015, the IECC has not only been updated as before, but has had a section (R406 – The Energy Rating Index Compliance Alternative) added.

In order to help NTA clients stay up – to – date on current codes and regulations, NTA has compiled a list of some of the important differences between the 2012 IECC and 2015 IECC. The most notable change to the IECC is a new performance path that was approved, and is now Section R406, Energy Rating Index Compliance Alternative. This new option is based on an Energy Rating Index. This section lays out required ERI scores, building envelope levels and approved third party participation.

To read the rest of this article, click 2015 IECC, and find IECC part two here.

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