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The philosophy of insulating glass certification

.. glass certification. Who certifies? The simple answer

May 11, 2008  By Margaret Webb*

Who certifies? The simple answer is manufacturers who are committed to
their customers and their products. But what is IG Certification, which
format and program is best for manufacturers and their unique market

A weathercycling rack. Photo Courtesy Of IGMA.

Who certifies? The simple answer is manufacturers who are committed to their customers and their products. But what is IG Certification, which format and program is best for manufacturers and their unique market needs?

There are three approaches to any certification program: Self certification, second party and third party certification.

Self certification is the lowest level of certification and includes testing to an industry standard to enhance what is essentially a product warranty. The manufacturer administers its own testing and ‘certification’ program and performs its own in-house inspections as a part of its ‘Quality Control’ process. When a manufacturer only specifies test procedures, they are accepting self certification. Many building codes allow self certification with independent test reports.


Second party certification is the most common format for certification. Testing is conducted at an independent laboratory with certification granted by a second party, often a trade association to which the manufacturer may belong. The trade association staff performs both the administrative and inspection functions. However, the potential exists for influencing the staff of the association if the manufacturer is a member. This level of certification is offered by some trade associations.

Third party certification is the highest level of product certification. The certifying or inspection agency is independently under contract to the administering agency, often a trade association to which the manufacturer may belong. There is no direct link between the certifying/inspection agency and the manufacturer.

Both the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association of Canada (IGMAC) programs qualify as third party certification.

IG units inside a high humidity chamber. Photo Courtesy Of IGMA.

Third party IG certification consists of a repeating cycle that is initiated at the request of the manufacturer. There are five parties to the IG certification program process: the program sponsor, the administrator, the manufacturer, the inspection agency and the testing facility.

IGMA sponsors two certification programs:
1. IGMAC Certification Program for the CGSB 12.8 standard.
2. IGMA Certification Program for the ASTM E 2190 standard.

The program sponsor, in this case IGMA, is responsible for setting the program requirements. It follows a consensus process which includes certification and technical committees plus public interest. The manufacturer is the initiator of the process by contacting the program administrator and completing the required forms. The IGMA and IGMAC programs include durability and gas content test protocols plus adherence to a prescribed quality assurance program.

Roles and responsibilities
Program Administrators (PA) are the hub of any certification program. They receive the original request and application for participation plus provide guidance to the manufacturers. They issue audit reports, maintain the confidential database of records, provide liaison with the inspectors and test facilities. They also conduct inspections of test facilities, ensure continued program compliance and are responsible for issuing the Certified Products Directory. In addition, they provide administrative support to the certification committees which are responsible for the continuous review and improvement of the program and provide the training program for the inspectors or auditors.

Volatile Fog Box with lights off and lights on. Photos Courtesy Of IGMA.

Participation in a certification program starts with a simple request from the manufacturer. With guidance from the PA, the manufacturer completes the program application form, remits the program fee payment and signs a license agreement with the program sponsor. This initiates the issuance of the audit report.

The manufacturer is also responsible for implementing and maintaining the program’s quality assurance program and must complete the required quality control forms which are reviewed during each audit or inspection. The manufacturer must also familiarize themselves with the fabrication specifications of the test specimens.

Certification programs require the manufacturing of test samples for certification witnessed by independent inspectors prior to testing at approved laboratories. Once certification has been achieved, unannounced periodic inspections are carried out in order to ensure the continued compliance of the certified product.
The inspector receives the audit information from the program administrator and conducts a compliance or facility audit. The initial audit is always a facility audit. The inspector contacts the manufacturer to schedule the facility audit. They witness the fabrication and affix a permanent label to each test specimen for identification and tracking purposes. The inspector verifies that the test samples correspond to the information contained in the PA’s confidential database and the certification mark for products that have already achieved certification. Prototype units or new product lines must not be identified with the program certification mark until all program requirements have been met. They record the specifics of the manufacturer’s production and quality assurance program information on the audit report. The completed forms are returned to the PA for processing.

Component suppliers are a great resource for manufacturers, but are not permitted in the plant during a facility audit.

A typical water penetration resistance test set up. Water is sprayed continuously at the test specimen for 24 minutes with cyclic static air pressure loads (test method ASTM E547). Photo Courtesy Of Quality Auditing Institute.

Audits and inspections
There are two types of audits or inspections: the facility and the compliance audit. The audit form itself has two purposes. First it serves as the formal report for the first indicated audit period and secondly, it functions as the auditor’s worksheet for the next inspection period.

During a facility audit, specimens are fabricated representatives of the manufacturer’s production. The number of fabricated test units depends on the test standard. The CGSB 12.8 standard requires 18 test units and the ASTM E 2190 requires 12 double glazed or 14 triple glazed units of 350mm x 500mm +⁄– 5.0mm (14in x 20in) dimension. The CGSB 12.8 standard prescribes four millimetre glass with a 12 millimetre airspace for double glazed units and six millimetre for triple glazed. The ASTM E 2190 standard allows for three different glass thicknesses with a prescribed airspace. The glass thickness to prescribed airspace is to ensure a specific edge seal pressure based on research conducted by Dr. Solvasen of the National Research Council of Canada more than 35 years ago.

IGMA approves testing facilities for both programs. All program testing facilities must be accredited to ISO 17025 and also be able to demonstrate compliance to the applicable test specification.

The laboratory receives test specimens and verifies that the test samples received were fabricated in the presence of a program inspector. They record the identification numbers, initial dew points and initial gas content if the manufacturer has elected to participate in that portion of the certification program.

The laboratory personnel record the success or failure of each of the tests – weather cycling, high humidity, volatile fog – maintaining communication with the manufacturer and the PA. At the end of the durability testing, final gas content measurements are taken and recorded. Upon completion of all testing, the approved testing facility issues a final report indicating pass or failure of the prescribed test standard.

A test wall with residential vinyl window samples being prepared for testing and certification to the requirements of CSA A440-00 ‘Windows’, AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-05 ‘Standard/Specification for windows, doors and unit skylights’, and National Resources Canada Energy Star program. Photo Courtesy Of Intertek.

Equivalences and re-certification
Re-certification varies from program to program. The IGMAC Certification Program requires re-certification every four years for product lines that have not been changed. The IGMA Certification Program requires re-certification every two years or annually for products that must be compliant to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Full re-certification is also required if any of the generic component types of the product are changed (connector, spacer, sealant(s), desiccant or low-E coating). Additionally, re-certification may be required if the location of the manufacturing facility as listed on the license agreement is changed. A change in the manufacturing process may also require re-certification.

Generally, minor changes of product design or process that are deemed not to affect test results may be exempted from re-certification, but program participants are cautioned to contact the PA to determine which changes may be acceptable and be waived from re-certification.

IGMA or IGMAC Certification: what is the best fit for you? This is the question most commonly asked of IGMA. As with many other issues and decisions required by a manufacturing facility, it depends. Who is your target customer? Who do you sell your product to? -end-

* * *

Similarities and differences of the two certification programs
In 1980, the Sealed Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association (SIGMA), one of the predecessor partners in IGMA and the US Department of HUD, jointly funded and initiated a field correlation study to span 25 years examining field performance of 2400 certified insulating glass units in residential and commercial applications. The standard specification was ASTM E 774, with insulating glass units certified to the C, CB, or CBA level of testing with CBA considered the most stringent and equivalent to CGSB 12.8.

Manufacturing members of SIGMA (now IGMA) identified projects which included their products. Every geographic and climatic condition in the US was captured in the study. All units were of south or southwestern elevation. Seventy five percent of the original population was captured at the 25 year mark.

A four panel door being tested for the requirements of Miami-Dade County hurricane resistance. Air leakage, water penetration and wind load resistance tests: where the sample is impacted with an eight foot Douglas Fir 2 x 4, weighing approximately nine pounds before being subjected to 9000 gusts of static wind pressure, 4500 cycles in each of the positive and negative wind load directions.  Photo Courtesy Of Intertek.
Dial gauges used to measure deflection of the test specimen during the uniform load deflection test. A uniform static air pressure difference is applied to the test specimen in both inward and outward directions. The resulting deflection and permanent damage to the test specimen is recorded (test method ASTM E330). Photo Courtesy Of Quality Auditing Institute.

For the purposes of the study, an insulating glass unit failure was defined as ‘Moisture, fog or dirt collection on the glass lite surfaces located within the air space’ exhibiting ‘permanent material obstruction of vision through the unit due to accumulation of dust, moisture or film on the internal surface of the glass’.

A second study was added in 1990 adding new profiles and only included units certified to the CBA level.

Summary results
Glazing of insulating glass units is critical to long-term performance. A significant portion of the failures were attributable to water trapped at the edge seal.

The C and CB units (14 percent) in the 1980 study had three to four times the failures than the CBA units (3.6 percent).

Certification to class CBA of ASTM E 774 demonstrated a much higher level of field performance than class C and CB. Certification to class CBA in comparison to C and CB was in part justification for one level of testing as developed for ASTM E 2190.

The Phase 1 and Phase 2 study had failure rates of one to 1.2 percent at 15 years for units certified to class CBA systems that were properly weeped for the 1980 and 1990 studies.

Long-term performance adds value to the bottom line. Benefits include:
• Catching errors before they leave the plant.
• On-site replacement of failed units can cost many more times than the original installation.
• Reduced warranty claims.
• Enhanced customer satisfaction leads to more orders.
• Increase your productivity.
• Increase your bottom line.

IGMA, as an organization, provides ongoing support for its certification program participants through technical activities to develop and support best practices, and technical publications such as TM-4000-02 Insulating Glass Manufacturing Quality Procedures, TM-4100-02 Preventing Insulating Glass Failures and TM-3000-04 North American Glazing Guidelines for Sealed Insulating Glass Units for Commercial and Residential Use.
IGMA engages in leading edge industry research to support new products and standards and offers educational seminars to demonstrate best practices as established by industry experts.

Whether a manufacturer chooses the IGMA or IGMAC Certification Program, the choice is clear. Participation in a third party insulating glass program which includes physical testing and a prescribed quality assurance program is good for business. A copy of the program manuals for each program and their corresponding Certified Products Directory is available from the IGMA web site under the ‘Certification’ tab.

So who certifies? Manufacturers who are committed to their customers! -end-

Roles and responsibilities
• Administrator receives completed application form.
• Creates new record in database.
• Issues audit report and sends to inspection agent.
• Administrator receives final test report and contacts IG manufacturer.
• Issues certification: pass report.
• Discusses re-test in event of failure.

• Contacts IG manufacturer to arrange visit.
• Witnesses fabrication of samples, identifies samples.
• Verifies certification mark: re-certification.
• Verifies test sample fabrication corresponds to database information.
• Reviews quality control records.
• Returns completed form
to administrator.

Test facility
• Acknowledges receipt of test samples.
• Records initial dew points and initial gas fill, if applicable.
• Records dew points at appropriate intervals.
• Issues final test report indicating pass or failure of test samples.

Author’s note: A detailed description of the testing requirements – ASTM E 2190 Information Sheet – for the CGSB 12.8 and the ASTM E 2190 standard specifications is available from the IGMA web site under the ‘IGMA Program’ tab.

The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) is considering the withdrawal of the CGSB 12.8
standard for the 2010 National Building of Canada issue.

The CGSB 12.8 is a time-dated standard and there are no activities planned for updating it. The ASTM E 2190 standard is referenced in the current NBCC. -end-

*Margaret Webb is the executive director for IGMA. For information on certification and other related programs contact IGMA at: (613) 233-1510 or visit:

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