A Manufacturer's Guide to IG Certification
October 23, 2008
FEATURE ARTICLE | Codes & Standards, Operations, Energy Efficiency
|For certification, IG must pass accelerated weathering tests, which simulate weather cycling from -20 degrees F to 140 degrees F with high humidity and ultraviolet radiation exposure over a 63-day period.|
Based on the recommendation of the Insulating Glass Industry Durability Advisory Group, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to require insulating glass certification as a prerequisite for Energy Star labeling of windows, doors and skylights. Because these products must be rated, and certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council and carry an NFRC label to become Energy Star labeled products, IG certification is becoming mandatory for NFRC certification.
This new requirement is expected to go into effect July 1, 2010. This article is designed to provide manufacturers with the information they need to get their IG units certified so they can continue using the Energy Star label when the mandate goes into effect. First, we will look at the overall timeline for the certification process that manufacturers need to understand. Secondly, we'll review the four basic steps involved in IG certification. Separate sidebars provide answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary of related terms, and a comprehensive directory of IG certification agencies.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
For those manufacturers currently participating in the NFRC certification program that do not currently certify IG, preparing now is key. There are a limited number of labs in North America with each having a fixed number of test specimens that can be tested per 15 week period. As the new mandate draws nearer, extended lead-times and testing backlogs are a major concern.
The entire IG certification process, outlined in the timeline above, currently takes approximately 24 weeks. However, that is subject to change as labs become full, so acting fast is critical to meet the 2010 deadline.
FOUR STEPS TO IG CERTIFICATION
Step 1: Evaluate your system (week 1). This may be done by referencing a certified products directory provided by IG certification agencies to see if an insulating glass system comparable to the one used by your company has passed. These directories can be found online at each IG certification agency Web site (see listings on page 70). Please note that many of these certified products passed under old standards (E774), which are less strict than the ASTM E 2190 currently used.
- Log onto the Web site of one or more of the certification programs and access the certified products directory (CPD).
- Search the CPD by spacer and sealant type currently used by your company and/or those it may be interested in using.
- If the spacer/sealant system is found, check to determine if testing was to ASTM E774 or ASTM E2190.
- If testing is to ASTM E774 then this is obsolete and will not meet the requirements of the NFRC.
Step 2: Contact an IG certification agency (weeks 2-4). Upon a request to begin the certification process, the agency will provide specific instructions on how to get started, which usually includes completing paperwork, scheduling test time with an approved independent testing laboratory and paying all associated fees. After paperwork is complete, the agency will send an auditor to the IG fabrication facility. It is important to note that it can take up to two weeks for the auditor to come to a manufacturer's plant and that the auditor must be present to witness the manufacturing of sample units.
A second key component of the auditor's inspection is the review of your quality assurance program and supporting documentation. A formal QA program is a mandatory requirement of all IG Certification programs, and manufacturers should review the details of this mandate prior to the auditor's visit.
- Log onto the Web site of the IG certification program you intend to list with and download information concerning program procedures and licensee requirements. Note that to be in accordance with NFRC requirements, any accepted certification agency must be compliant to ISO Guide 65 and use independent testing laboratories that are accredited to ISO 17025 to perform ASTM E2190 or CAN/CGSB 12.8 (Canada).
- Evaluate the quality assurance program requirements of the chosen agency and ensure that you meet the minimum.
- Contact agency to submit paperwork and schedule an initial audit and test sample build date.
Note any limitations of certification program regarding presence of component suppliers at time of IG unit build. Some do not allow for component suppliers to be present during the test sample build audit.
Step 3: Submit units for testing (weeks 5-20). After manufacture is complete, the test units will be labeled by the auditor and shipped to the test lab. During this time, the test units will undergo the prescribed tests, which include high humidity, accelerated weathering and volatile fog tests.
- Ship test samples to an independent laboratory that is approved by the chosen certification agency and meets the above mentioned accreditation requirements. These units must be marked/labeled by the auditor for identification prior to shipment to the testing facility.
- A failure of any unit of the sample set constitutes a failure of the entire set and a complete new test sample set must be remade under auditor witness and resubmitted for testing.
Step 4: Authorization to mark (weeks 21-24). Upon successful completion of the testing and submittal of the test reports, the certification agency will send a notification of certification and authorize the manufacturer to mark its IG for certification identification.
- Upon successful completion of testing and with your approval, the laboratory will forward the test report to the IG certification program agency that you have chosen.
- Upon confirmation of all necessary documents, verification of an acceptable quality assurance program and review of laboratory test report, the certification agency will provide a formal notification that allows the manufacturer to 'mark' (e.g., label, watermark, engrave, etch, etc. ) its IG units as certified. The manufacturer's products are then also listed under the certification program's Certified Products Directory.
- At the next NFRC inspection, the independent inspection agent (IA) will review documentation that you provide to ensure IG units being manufactured for use in NFRC certified and labeled fenestration products are compliant with NFRC and DOE/Energy Star requirements.