IGMA: Do we need Canadian standards?

With respect to glass standards in Canada, most standards have been withdrawn.
Margaret Webb
November 29, 2018
By Margaret Webb
Despite a previously robust system for development of standards in Canada, the federal government’s current cost-recovery policy for standards development could be endangering the future of Canadian standards.
In prior years, the Canadian government underwrote all costs for standards development, except direct costs such as travel and translation. In the case of the CAN/CGSB 12.8 standard, the direct costs were funded by the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association of Canada. In 2002, the Canadian government shifted to a cost-recovery policy of developing and maintaining only standards for which all costs were fully underwritten by the sponsoring industry.

As a result, the cost to industry for maintaining and/or developing Canadian standards has increased dramatically. In 2002, IGMA approached the Canadian General Standards Board to exercise a memorandum of understanding between CGSB and ASTM (the American equivalent) to designate the new insulating glass standards as a dual-designated standard bearing both the CGSB and ASTM designation. IGMA was extremely disappointed when CGSB advised us they no longer were participating in the memorandum with ASTM and that harmonizing the new insulating glass standard would require $114,000 in funding.

Fast forward to today. IGMA has learned that CGSB is now seeking funding from industry to do two things: administer the Canadian ISO committees (for all types of glass standards) and maintain the secretariat of the Canadian glass standards. Currently, Canada is an active participant at ISO, the International Standards Organization. Canada’s participation at this level allows Canada to vote on ISO standards and to have input into these international standards with the intent of opening markets and reducing artificial trade barriers. CGSB is seeking funding of $10,000 from industry to remain the ISO administrator and for Canada to maintain active participation status and a vote at ISO, or $4,000 to participate in ISO as an observer, which would allow access to documents but no vote for Canada on ISO standards. Without this funding, Canada will lose any influence it may have on ISO standards.

With respect to glass standards in Canada, most glass standards have been withdrawn. Only five glass standards are currently effective, subject to review every five years: safety glazing, flat sheet glass, flat float glass, heat absorbing glass and insulating glass units. Because CGSB will only review and maintain the standards if industry provides the funding for them, the above standards are in danger of being withdrawn once the review period passes. In addition, some industry members have expressed interest in revising standards for spandrel glass and structural design of glass for buildings. Those standards would require funding of approximately $56,000 and $85,000, respectively. Funding for maintenance of any glass standards is well beyond what IGMA alone can provide to CGSB. If Canadian glass standards are to be maintained, a different funding mechanism must be developed.

IGMA would like to determine if there is industry interest in maintaining the Canadian glass standards and in maintaining Canada’s active participation at ISO. If the glass industry expresses strong interest, then industry-wide discussions could be launched on possible funding mechanisms that spread the cost across many companies, maintaining affordability of support, especially for the continuation of Canadian glass standards.

It has been difficult to gauge the interest of Canadian industry in maintaining or revising Canadian standards. ASTM and ANSI standards already are increasingly referenced in the National Building Code of Canada. In order to determine if there is interest in maintaining Canadian glass standards, or simply relying on the ASTM and ANSI processes for glass standards development in North America, IGMA has developed a survey. Please take five minutes now to complete the survey and express your view on industry support of the continuation of Canadian glass standards. The survey can be found at igmaonline.org/certification/igma-canadian-codes-survey. The survey will be open until mid-December and the results will be published to the IGMA website.

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