It’s been a great year for VSI on so many fronts, including our Advocacy Program. Building on this momentum, we are pleased to announce the following initiatives for 2021:
The ADP is one of VSI’s strong areas of focus. The ADP’s strength has been the outside accreditation by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Planning Association (APA), so, in 2021, VSI will offer 15-20 educational programs. Most of these programs will be presented by VSI consultant Fernando Pages Ruiz and organized by VSI’s Director of Advocacy Alex Fernandez.
We will also be developing the Architectural Specification Guide – it will complement the book Architectural Design for Traditional Neighborhoods. The New Urbanist concepts will continue to be a constant theme in the overall program, but the Specification Guide is really where the rubber hits the road to achieve VSI’s advocacy goals. We are aiming to launch it in June. Fernando will be crafting the content, and Pel Ona will create the drawings.
Among the new educational programs, in addition to polymeric cladding and trim specification, there will be a strong focus on sustainability, including recycling and Life Cycle Analysis. Also, we will start to focus on cladding and the building codes intended to create a robust foundation for architects to become more familiar with how exteriors are regulated according to state building codes (which is focused on wind, moisture and fire safety).
Finally, all ADP offerings will be added to Handley-Wood University’s curriculum so that even more professionals beyond VSI’s network will have access to these unique educational opportunities in architectural design.
VSI has been accredited since 2015 through the International Code Council (ICC) and in several states (including Ohio and Florida) as an education provider. We plan to take advantage of our accreditation by conducting 10 educational events in targeted states for building officials that focus on how cladding fits into the building code, residential code and energy code. These new programs will focus mainly on Florida, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, and we will endeavor to cross-pollinate them with our legislative efforts. Wind performance and the cladding chapters will be key topics for the building officials we are targeting.
Now that we have new legislation in Texas that knocks down the mason industry’s barriers to keep vinyl siding out, we want to now identify how we can gain more acceptance in America’s largest housing market. We will produce an educational event and exhibit at the Sunbelt Builders Show on July 13–16, and we will work with local members in the local markets there throughout the year. In our initial outreach with area stakeholders, we plan to introduce our educational offerings and align vinyl siding language with speaking to the culture of the Texas market with a strong focus on builders. All the discovery we conduct will be utilized to create a more robust, broader work plan for 2022.
There are two major developments we are working on for our Code focus:
As part of this initiative, we are taking 2020 research on wind resistance to educate other stakeholders – like the insurance industry and academic space – on how our products perform in wind events, including hurricanes.
We have gained a lot of traction with targeted state legislatures, and those advocacy efforts will continue in 2021. But we also need to ensure that local governments are not restricting our products. The two primary states we are going after are Tennessee and Indiana, and then secondarily, Ohio, Kansas and Minnesota.