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Editorial: October 2011

Stay informed to survive


Changes to laws and building codes are only a threat to your business if
you are unprepared for them. In this time of rapid change, take every
opportunity to get inside information.

Changes to laws and building codes are only a threat to your business if you are unprepared for them. In this time of rapid change, take every opportunity to get inside information.

It is official: you are no longer allowed to be anything other than green. That’s green as in environmentally friendly, not green as in Kermit the Frog. B.C.’s Energy Efficiency Act has made it law that windows and doors installed in that province must meet certain U-value standards, and other jurisdictions across the country seem ready to follow suit through laws of their own or changes to building codes. The option of building a cheap, leaky house and cranking up the heat to compensate is no longer an option, at least so far as the doors and windows are concerned. Being green is no longer a matter of choice or marketing strategy (think Energy Star) but rather a matter of lawful compliance.

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These kinds of increases in regulation make business owners uneasy, and with good reason. Perhaps your business plan was predicated on being able to offer low-cost, less green solutions to some segment of the market. At a stroke of a pen, government regulators have rendered large portions of your inventory worthless. There is usually a phase-in period during which your inventory can be sold off and upgraded, but what about your market position? If you have made your bread and butter being a low-cost, high-volume supplier (no shame in that, by the way) it is not easy to suddenly morph your company and sales staff into a low-volume, high value-added supplier. For one thing, that section of your market is probably already occupied by someone else. You are suddenly forced to try to carve out a niche against an established competitor. It is like starting up all over again, minus the energy and lack of overhead of your youth.

Even if your products already meet the standards set out in the regulations, new regulations almost always mean new requirements for demonstrating that you are compliant with those regulations. In the case of B.C.’s law, each and every fenestration product will be required to bear a label showing it has been tested and found compliant. It is not clear at this time whether every individual window or door will need to be tested before it can bear the label, or whether the government will allow testing of only a representative sample of a product line. Going from zero requirement for testing and labelling to lab-testing 100 per cent of your product is obviously incredibly costly and disruptive to your process. Companies can – and do – go out of business under less pressure.

Most fenestration products sold in Canada do meet or exceed the new regulations, and it seems unlikely that even bright green B.C. will insist manufacturers test every single unit. But it is certain that manufacturers who do not stay abreast of these changes will face a costly scramble to keep up. Information and education are your best weapons.

To get educated about the coming changes, consider attending Jeff Baker’s Ask the Inspectors seminar at Win-door on Nov. 16. I can’t think of a better way for you to get out in front of the coming changes and build a strategy to deal with them.


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