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FGIA online summer conference works well



If there’s one thing this pandemic has done, it’s shaken us out of our old routines and forced us to try new things. In that spirit, the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance held its Summer Conference online June 23 through 25, after cancelling the live event originally scheduled to take place in Chicago.

Attendees joined through the Zoom web conferencing app, which allowed them to see and hear the various panelists and thier presentation slide decks. They could ask questions via chat. Recordings of the proceedings are available to registrants at the FGIA website.

Notes from the conference:

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  • Washington has ammended wildlife protection laws to make only intentional bird kills punishable. Could put a damper on bird-friendly glass sales.
  • The U.S. Energy Star program is looking at shifting its source of funding from taxes to user fees. It’s only a proposal at present.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may require all new chemicals entering the market to be evaluated and approved before being offered for sale. But there are already thousands of substances on the known list.
  • Activity in Canada has continued almost without interruption, albeit more slowly and less profitably. Commercial border traffic has continued, though non-essential travel has been drastically reduced.
  • Building starts and permits in Canada remain strong and experts are saying construction will lead the recovery. Renovation spending has actually gone up.
  • Lending requirements have tightened, but interest rates remain low and will likely be held low for the foreseeable future.
  • Natural Resources Canada remains committed to its market transformation targets and Energy Star is likely to play an important role. If the provinces don’t play ball, the possibility of national regulation is still out there. Most of NRCan’s attention is on HVAC at the present, but could return to fenestration before long.
  • Committees updating the National Energy Building Code have been stalled by opposition from homebuilder groups to introduction of tiered energy standards similar to B.C.’s Step Code. Also, Margaret Webb, FGIA Canada director, reported that her and a determined group of industry advocates (Lisa Bergeron and Robert Jutras, AVFQ; Jeff Baker, WestLab; Zana Gordon, FenBC; Nathalie Thibault, FGIA) are fighting another attempt to reduce window/wall ratios in the 2020 update to the National Building Code.
  • According to NRCan estimates, there are 1,400 commercial glazing companies in Canada, but 16 of them do two-thirds of all the work.

Day 2 started out with an excellent panel discussing manufacturing and customer contact during the pandemic. Danny Smith (Ceridian), Lisa Bergeron (Jeld-Wen), Richard Braunstein (Oldcastle) Jeff Jackson (PGT Innovations), Greg Lambas (Katerra) and Matt Nuss (Vitrum) provided the discussion. Takeaways from the panel: uneven government responses are leading to uneven economic consequences; consistent messaging and communications internally and externally are the most important thing companies can do; the value of industry associations has been showcased as never before; and no one can be confident of the long-term effects of the pandemic, which might even be positive. Braunstein made the intriguing suggestion that the pandemic may lead to long-term changes in architecture.