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FGIA: Where have the Canadian glass standards gone?

If the industry wants these standards, it is time to ante up.


August 19, 2020
By Margaret Webb

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I ’ve been speaking and writing for years about the impending lapse of Canadian glass standards, and the response has led me to believe this isn’t a big priority for the industry. However, many industry members have spoken to me directly about how important some of the Canadian glass standards are to them: CAN/CGSB 12.1, “Safety Glazing”; CAN/CGSB 12.8, “Insulating Glass Units” and CAN/CGSB 12.20, “Structural Glass Design in Buildings”.

Here are the costs from the Canadian General Standards Board to undertake the work to reaffirm the five active standards, update and revise the CAN/CGSB 12.20 standard and harmonize the CAN/CGSB 12.1, “Safety Glazing” standard with its U.S. counterpart, ANSI (now ANAB) Z97.1, 2015.

  • Reaffirm (no technical changes) the five active standards: $30,000
  • Harmonize CAN/CGSB 12.1 with ANSI (ANAB) Z97.1: $39,000
  • Update and revise CAN/CGSB 12.20: $140,000 (including reaffirmation of five active standards)

The board advised in March that this work would need to commence this August if we were to meet the 2022 deadline for republication and that all funding must be received by that date for the work to proceed. I developed a funding proposal outlining the objectives, barriers and consequences to various industry stakeholders and possible funding mechanisms to sustain the standards in the future with input from Nathalie Thibault, FGIA manager of glass products and Canadian industry affairs, and Zana Gordon, executive director of the Fenestration Association of British Columbia. All three of us have reached out to multiple industry organizations, companies and federal and provincial agencies. To date, we have had no success in raising any funds, even just to cover the reaffirmation costs of $30,000. Of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters.

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After months of our unsuccessful efforts to raise any funds for this work, I advised CGSB of our results. The management team at CGSB has now committed to covering the cost of $30,000 CAD for reaffirming the five active standards. However, this issue is going to come up again in five years and we have no commitment from CGSB that they will cover the costs to reaffirm at that time.

Why should the industry care if we have Canadian glass standards? CAN/CGSB 12.2, 12.3 and 12.4 probably have little value to the industry. CAN/CGSB 12.2, “Flat, Clear Sheet Glass” has no relevance as no one manufactures sheet glass any more. CAN/CGSB 12.3, “Flat, Clear Float Glass” has not changed in many, many years. There are no longer any flat glass manufacturers in Canada and the equivalent ASTM standard covers this product well. CAN/CGSB 12.4, “Heat Absorbing Glass”, is outdated, so if the industry wants it to be relevant to today’s products, it requires a major revision as well.

So, what about CAN/CGSB 12.20, “Structural Design of Glass in Buildings”? This standard has not been revised since 1989. It is a difficult standard to use so many design professionals and industry members are using the IGMA Glass Design Program, which has been updated to be code-compliant but addresses issues not in CAN/CGSB 12.20 and also is not totally user-friendly either, but better than the standard. ASTM E1300 is referenced in the National Building Code, however 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 is different. As thermal performance becomes more and more stringent, products will be forced to triple and quad glazing to meet these codes. The effect of the federal Market Transformation Initiative is already having an effect on the current code cycle with more stringent U-factors for fenestration products, proposed reductions to fenestration and door wall ratios and the mandate from the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes to start moving product performance to the 2030 Net Zero deadline.

A lot of time and effort have been expended by FGIA and FEN-BC to secure funding. If the industry does not support this both in action and funding, then these have been wasted efforts. If the industry wants these standards, it is time to ante up.

FGIA is interested in your opinion, so please let us know how important the standards are to you and your company. A copy of the funding proposal is available upon request to the FGIA office. We not only welcome your feedback, we encourage it.