THE YEAR IN VINYL – VSI’s Advocacy Efforts Garner Big Wins in 2019

by Don Browne

Come Join Us for a Review and Plans for 2020!

On Tuesday, December 17th at 11:30 AM EST, Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) will host a webinar on the significant strides the industry has achieved in 2019 to gain greater acceptance of polymeric siding and accessories.

This presentation will also articulate VSI’s continuing efforts to help all key stakeholders in the home-building sector provide greater value to the customers and communities that they serve using the design, sustainability and cost-effective benefits that vinyl siding offers.


The “highlights” focus on four key areas:

Legislative Reforms

Thanks to our hard work with state and local governments, we have been successful in making polymeric siding and related products more accessible to builders and developers in concert with our nation’s free market traditions.  In 2019, state laws were passed (as a result of our advocacy efforts) in both Texas and Arkansas which prohibit local governments from dictating which materials builders can use for home construction.  Though opponents in both states see the new legislation as imposing on local authorities’ ability to determine the look of their communities or create conservation districts, VSI contends that local building codes were largely influenced by industry competitors (i.e. other cladding manufacturers) and/or were designed by these governments to drive a higher tax base through the development of more expensive homes.  And as far as conservation districts go, polymeric siding has always been dismissed by the green building intelligentsia because they view these products as mere plastic, when the research has indicated that they are among the most sustainable products on the market today.  We also had some wins at the state and local levels in Georgia and Tennessee, where we were able to support area builders in convincing government stakeholders of the benefits of polymeric siding in building stronger communities.

But there is so much more work to be done.  With these 2019 successes as a blueprint, VSI is gearing up for 2020 with a focus on Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana and Oklahoma - all key battleground states which we feel are ripe for statewide reform enabling free market access for vinyl siding.

VSI will continue to keep its ear to the rail in other states, including South Carolina and Iowa, where local authorities in Myrtle Beach and Des Moines are trying to enact legislation that bans the use of polymeric siding and accessories for home building.  And we will continue to push for greater communication and education to both our members and all builders facing state and local barriers to their trade.  “The process is simple for them,” asserts Alex Fernandez, VSI’s Assistant Director, Advocacy - Government Affairs.  “All they have to do is call me or Matt (Dobson, VSI’s Vice President) and we do all the heavy lifting by helping them do what they do best in their own markets without unnecessary interference.  We also approach government stakeholders as partners in progress (as opposed to lobbyists trying to flex our muscles) as we educate them on the benefits of using polymeric siding for developing attractive and more sustainable communities.”


Continuous Improvements to the Building Code

VSI made some significant contributions in updating the International Building and Residential Code, Florida Building Code, and National Building Code of Canada.  These updates give VSI greater traction in their outreach to building officials as an ICC-preferred education provider, and they also help their members communicate their products’ improvements and technical features more effectively.  Perhaps the biggest breakthrough is the mandatory design pressure labeling on all polymeric cladding certified under VSI's program – which goes into effect on January 1, 2020.  The new design pressure label requirements will serve as a powerful tool for letting code officials know that these products will perform in Florida and other high-wind coastal areas.  In 2020, VSI plans to build on this momentum with more educational outreach and additional updates of current code resources.


Launch of New Architectural Design Guide

Last September, VSI published Architectural Design for Traditional Neighborhoods, its long-awaited opus for revealing the exciting possibilities of using modern innovative materials in new urban settings.  Co-authored by four thought leaders in the New Urbanism movement, the book has already made an impact on architects, designers, and builders at AIA-certified conferences, and will continue to serve as a powerful lobbying, educational and marketing weapon for the industry in 2020.


Sustainability Platform

In November, VSI released its NEW Sustainability Platform, a user-friendly guide for a growing number of homeowners seeking exteriors that offer both the best protection for their home and the lowest impact on the environment.  Thanks to the hard work of VSI’s Sustainability Work Group and its research partners, this straightforward platform provides updates to the facts and science of Life Cycle Analysis, which demonstrates how polymeric siding products have significantly less impact on global warming than most other cladding. The Sustainability Platform is also a tribute to the vinyl siding industry’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint through proper research and effective testing.

In 2020, our sustainability work group will focus on recyclability.  99% of all polymeric siding scrap produced within manufacturing facilities is projected to either get returned to the manufacturing process (thanks to co-extrusion processes that are unique to the industry) or used in other products.  Therefore, effective education and tireless communication of vinyl siding’s recycling advantages is a must for 2020.  As the platform states more simply:

“Vinyl Siding stays on the house, not in a landfill.”

As you can see from our year in review, VSI's game plan has included industry mobilization through issues awareness and products advocacy, coupled with relentless efforts to ensure sound code, regulatory, product specification and legislative framework that enables fair competition in the marketplace.


Key elements of this overall plan have entailed 

  • grassroots engagement that extends to the local levels,
  • streamlining overly burdensome regulations and working to reform legislation that impacts the use of polymeric cladding,
  • development of work groups to focus on specific issues or geographic areas,
  • implementing target-specific research,
  • proactive communications with segmented messaging intended for target audiences,
  • participating in the development of green building, energy and green codes that impact our products, and
  • fostering stronger relationships with industry allies, especially with those in the New Urbanism movement.

So as stated earlier, there is much more work to be done, but the future looks bright thanks to all that we have achieved together in 2019!  Please join VSI’s upcoming webinar, and see how you can play a pivotal role in helping us execute another winning game plan in 2020 for the benefit of your business AND your community.


Topics: performance   advocacy   members   code and regulation updates   outreach   recycling