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Fenestration Canada Commercial Chapter talks automated doors

December 14, 2023  By Patrick Flannery

Fenestration Canada’s Commercial Chapter held an online member meeting Dec. 14 welcoming about 20 attendees. Brent Friesen of Baywest Glazing chaired. FenCan executive director Stephane Labelle started the meeting off with an announcement of the commercial chapter’s first-ever in-person event, the Canadian Glazing Conference, happening April 9 in Surrey, B.C. Plans include a full day of education sessions and a show floor with an estimated 30 exhibitors. Labelle also announced FenCan is looking for a member from the commercial side of the industry to join its board or directors and invited interested parties to reach out to the office.


Don Welsh from Tormax then offered an overview of automated door systems with some helpful tips for glaziers needing to specify or source them. Welsh mentioned that business on the automated entrance side has been strong lately and seems to be somewhat recession-proof with the demand for more energy-efficient and secure upgrades.

The main organization for automatic door manufacturers is the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers, which is involved in training and certifying inspectors.


Welsh explained that choosing a door system depends on the type of building it will go into; the space allowed; the expected traffic flow through the door; ownership’s expectations and, of course, budget. He explained that some owners are only concerned about the product getting through warranty until they are able to flip the building, while others are looking for 30 or more years of durability.

Systems have to meet ANSI codes for accessibility, operation and structural integrity and NFPA codes for fire resistance and life safety. The relatively new Accessible Canada Act governs entrances on federal buildings nationally. Five provinces have specific laws for accessibility, with Quebec including significant requirements in its human rights legislation. Alberta and Saskatchewan are close to passing laws. Below the provincial level, Welsh said major cities have their own accessibility rules.

Main standards:

ANSI A117.1-2017: Accessible and usable buildings

ANSI A156.10-2017: Power operated pedestrian doors

ANSI/BMHA A156.19-2019: Power-assist and low-energy power operated doors

ANSI/BMHA A156.27-2019: Standard for revolving doors

ANSI/BMHA A156.38-2019: Low-energy power-operated sliding and folding doors

NFPA 101 Life Safety Code

BMHA/ANSI 156 Hardware

Welsh explained that systems considered “full power” generally have more sensors and fully automatic entry with no action required by the person entering. Low power systems work at slower speeds and often use a button or pressure plate. The distinction between the two is complicated and involves a number of design elements.

The main categories of automated doors are sliding, swinging, folding and revolving. High energy swing doors in grocery stores are going away, Welsh reported, in favour of sliding doors. Automated entrances are gaining popularity in new builds, including residential towers. Welsh says he is also seeing a surge in interest in revolving doors despite their higher cost because of energy efficiency concerns. Revolving doors are effectively “always closed” and the air exchange between outside and in can be calculated and controlled.

Welsh mentioned that resistance to salt and dirt was a major factor in the longevity of door systems. Cleaning and maintaining them makes them last a lot longer, but this is never done.

Notable trends include increased interest in security, including emergency throw-bolt systems that allow a clerk to lock the outside doors from an actuator at the store counter.

WinDoor update

Rich Porayko offered a report for the commercial group from WinDoor, saying it was very worthwhile and featured terrific education. The sessions were full to capacity even after the show ended on the second day. Porayko was especially impressed with Juliette Cook’s presentation on embodied carbon and the Across the Great Divide panel discussion. He reminded members that the next WinDoor takes place in Montreal Nov. 13 -14, 2024. Members commented that embodied carbon seems to be a hot issue and that the chapter should look into offering some additional education on the topic.




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