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FGIA: First steps to revision

October 25, 2023  By Amy Roberts


Along with the rest of the Canadian Glass Committee members, the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance is ready to dive in to revise some of the glass standards used in Canadian building codes. These standards are long overdue for revision. With changes to national building codes as well as more stringent energy requirements, it is important to keep them relevant.

Last year, the industry was able to take a big step forward when the Standards Council of Canada offered to fund the revision of three valuable glass standards through the Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program. The standards are CAN/CGSB-12.1-2022 “Safety Glazing”; CAN/CGSB-12.8-2017 (R2022), “Insulating Glass Units”; and CAN/CGSB-12.20-M89, “Structural Design of Glass for Buildings” (withdrawn). The Canadian General Standards Board’s intention has been to review the environmental and climate resiliency components of these standards and make them relevant to current needs. 

In December, 2022, a code change request was submitted asking that the National Building Code remove references to the term “wired safety glass” and the standard CAN/CGSB 12.11-M90, “Wired Safety Glass” and replace with references to CAN/CGSB 12.1-22 “Safety Glazing.” NBC 2020 began to address this by adopting changes that require safety glazing in assembly occupancies to conform to the new safety glass standard CAN/CGSB 12.1-2017, “Safety Glazing” (which has since been updated with a new edition in 2022). Monolithic wired glass does not meet the requirements of this standard.  The language is also confusing. Much of the confusion may stem from the CAN/CGSB 12.11’s  title, “Wired Safety Glass,” because monolithic wired glass is not a safety glazing.  There has also been some discussion about re-activating CGSB/CAN 12.11, renaming it as “Monolithic Wired Glass,” and removing the word “safety” from the title. This will clarify that the standard is for monolithic wired glass, not safety glazing.

The Canadian Glass Committee chair has also requested SCC to extend the project’s deadline to three years instead of two. The committee believes it will take the full three years to revise CAN/CGSB-12.20-M89 due to its age and complexity. It hasn’t been revised since 1989, which was 34 years ago! Due to the anticipated length of time to revise CAN/CGSB 12.20, it is expected that the additional two standards (CAN/CGSB 12.1 and CAN/CGSB 12.8) will be revised concurrently with work on CAN/CGSB 12.20. Two additional work groups for these two standards will be created. The information contained in the withdrawn CAN/CGSB-12.20-M89 standard was originally developed pursuant to a voluntary standards development initiative by CGSB. According to CGSB, the content therein may no longer represent the most current, reliable, and/or available information on these subjects.

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Additionally, ASTM E1300-16,”Standard Practice for Determining Load Resistance of Glass in Buildings,” is referenced in the NBC, but it does not adequately address the live loads we experience here in Canada due to snow accumulation. The fundamental principle behind ASTM E1300 and CAN/CGSB 12.20-M89 is different. As thermal performance becomes more and more stringent, products may be forced to use triple and quadruple glazing to meet these codes. Thus, it makes sense for the committee to work on this standard first as it’ll require the most attention. During the first task group meeting it was suggested to also review Italian and European standards to determine if there are additional perspectives to consider in this standard revision.

An ongoing area of concern for SCC and CGSB is how to continue funding these standards long-term. Costs may run anywhere from $40,000 to over $100,000 for each standard for future updates. Both FGIA and FenBC spent a lot of time and effort to try to secure funding, previous to SCC’s recent funding commitment, and were not successful. It is time for the industry to step up and support the efforts to keep these standards relevant and current. •


Amy Roberts is FGIA’s director of Canadian and technical glass operations.


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