Harmonized IG Certification Tops IGMA Agenda

July 1, 2008

Whistler, British Columbia—A harmonized version of the certification programs from Insulating Glass Certification Council and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance is scheduled to be implemented January 1, 2009, reported John Kent, IGCC administrator, during the IGMA Summer Meeting, held here June 16-19. The event also featured an update on the status of Energy Star program changes and the announcement of a new joint industry document on care and cleaning of glass.

The IG certification programs are combined into the IGCC/IGMA program that will be owned and sponsored by IGCC. The IGCC board, made up of half industry and half public interest, will be the ultimate decision maker, Kent said. Certified products will feature both the IGCC and IGMA mark. “IGCC shall license the use of the IGMA mark,” he added. “There is value in that mark. … We didn’t want to lose that recognition.”

Manufacturers certifying to both IGCC’s and IGMA’s current programs will see a few notable changes in the harmonized program, Kent pointed out. “Many companies, including those that are currently part of both programs, will see a reduction in fees,” he projected. Testing frequency was the biggest issue for the organizations in trying to find agreement. In the harmonized program, manufacturers will test annually for the first two years and every other year after that. “They will develop a proven track record,” he said.

The new harmonized program requires manufacturers certifying gas-filled units to mark the units. While the IGMA program previously required marking, the IGCC program did not. The IGMA program had allowed manufacturers to certify single airspace units if they tested multiple airspace units of the same construction, while the IGCC’s program did the opposite. Under the harmonized requirements, manufacturers need to test multiple airspace units every four years. During the off-test periods, they can test dual-pane units, as long as the construction is the same.

Before program implementation, IGCC needs to work out the contracts and license agreements, as well as the program fees. “We have worked for many years to draw the programs together,” Kent said. “Both boards have agreed on a path forward to harmonize the two programs into a single program. Manufacturers will now have one program, one process, one audit, one test, one set of rules, one set of fees; and they will have the recognition of two organizations.”

IG certification has increased in recent years, and is expected to increase further with the National Fenestration Rating Council adding it as a prerequisite to carry an NFRC label. The IGCC program has 209 plants certifying units, up 11 plants from last year; and the IGMA program has 43 plants, up four from last year, Kent said. About 25 plants, with 52 products, have certified to both programs.

Stephen Bickel of D&R International, which administers the Energy Star Windows program for the Department of Energy, told attendees at the meeting that the proposed revised criteria will be circulated to stakeholders in July in preparation for an August 13 stakeholders meeting in Washington, D.C. By September or October, the criteria will be finalized. “We will give at least 270 days from the time we announce the finalized criteria. So, the earliest effective date is June 2009,” Bickel said.

Of note, Bickel reported that the 2009 implementation of more stringent requirements constitutes phase one of a two-phase plan. Previously, DOE had said it would issue three sets of increasingly stringent Energy Star requirements for windows. Phase two is scheduled, Bickel reported, to be implemented between 2012 and 2014.

Currently, Energy Star constitutes about 80 percent to 90 percent of the replacement window market. Part of the motivation behind the new, tougher criteria is to reduce the number of products that meet Energy Star.

“We want to re-establish Energy Star as a symbol of the best in class,” Bickel said. “We don't expect market share to drop significantly when the phase one criteria are introduced. We expect about 50 percent of currently qualified Energy Star models to qualify for the new criteria without modification or with a straightforward change in glass package, so most,- if not all manufacturers will be able to produce qualified models by the effective date and to maintain roughly the same proportion of Energy Star sales. Market share might drop about 5 percentage points initially, but no more than that."

The tougher phase two criteria will reduce the Energy Star market share to about 25 percent, he predicted. Raising the Energy Star standard will push manufacturers into additional performance improvements, he said.

The IGMA meeting also saw its technical services committee vote unanimously to join a combined industry association task group to develop a standard addressing glass care and cleaning techniques. IGMA will join with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Glass Association of North America to create a document that will outline best practices for glass care and will speak directly to the issue of using metal scrapers to clean glass. The practice is common among many window cleaners but strongly opposed by many in the glass industry. Read a full-length article about the contentious issue here.

Currently, GANA has a technical bulletin and AAMA has a document that both address the issue of proper cleaning. “There is real strength in developing a joint document with AAMA, GANA and IGMA,” said Margaret Webb, IGMA executive director, during the meeting. “The document will have the strength of all organizations.”

A best-practices document supported by a group of industry associations could provide some legal protection for glass companies if glass is damaged, noted Bill Lingnell, who serves as IGMA’s technical consultant. “In a litigation situation, it helps the industry to be able to tell an attorney that there is a standard of care. … The closer the industry gets together to develop a standard, the better,” he said.

IGMA’s next meeting will take place Feb. 2-6 in San Diego. Visit www.igmaonline.org
for more information.

—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, Glass Magazine