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You Bet Your Glass : December 2009

Installer certification is coming our way


January 11, 2010
By Frank Fulton

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It will no longer be possible to use your older test documentation to prove compliance. You will likely find it necessary to re-test your products.

Since the mid-1980s I have had the pleasure of serving as a voting member on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) A440 Windows technical committee. This committee is responsible for writing, maintaining, and updating the A440 Windows Standard, the document that governs window and door performance for all fenestration products installed in Canada.

The group consists of 30 voting members plus a significant number of “associates” with interests in the industry. Of the voting members, one-third are manufacturers. The balance is made up for the most part of testing laboratories, engineers, building code representatives and various government interests.

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Boring? Please indulge me by not glazing over just yet. There’s a lot of stuff happening that is very likely to affect your business in the near future.

The next printing of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) is due out by the end of 2010 and that edition will reference the new North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) / Specification for windows, doors and skylights, 2008 version. As the building code referenced standard, it’s the law of the land. The NAFS standard is a joint effort between the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the CSA. The objective is to have one window standard that applies throughout North America.

The significance of this NBCC reference is bound to affect your business if you are a window or door manufacturer and even if you are an installation contractor. The new NAFS standard is significantly different from all of the past versions of the A440 window standard and the CGSB 82.1 sliding door standard. All the levels of performance and test sizes have undergone a major change. It will no longer be possible to use your older test documentation to prove compliance to the new requirements and, as a result, as a manufacturer, you will likely find it necessary to re-test your products. An expensive proposition!

If you are an installation contractor, you may think that all of this is the responsibility of the manufacturer. You would be generally correct, until there is a problem on the job, things go bad and the job ends up in litigation. Once the lawyers get a sniff that the product you installed on the job does not meet the NBCC, regardless of what was called for in the project specifications, you may end up facing a mountain of grief. Knowing the current codes, and being proactive with specifiers, contractors and suppliers, will save you pain.

Of particular interest to everyone involved in all facets of the window industry should be the pending introduction of a CSA Window Installation Personnel Certification program. The CSA is currently in the process of forming a scheme committee that will determine the workings and details of the program and the initial reception to the idea from the technical committee is that installer certification is needed, is long overdue, and will receive sufficient support to make it fly.

The consulting engineering and consultant faction who typically perform shop drawing review, site audits and site testing of installed window products are often involved in the specification writing process at the front end of a project. They have indicated that once there is a CSA-managed installation certification program in place they will do their best to ensure that the use of certified installers is built into the project specifications.

The government representatives indicated that programs they manage, such as Energy Star, will fully support this CSA program. Even manufacturers appear to be supportive of this initiative as bad installations always come back to haunt them and inevitably reflect badly on their product.

This program is just getting off the ground. The CSA committee head, Miles Murphy, is in the process of pulling together a diversified group made up of manufacturers, installers, engineers and users to determine the future workings of this initiative. Here’s your chance to be part of the solution and have a hand in a program that will become a major part of your business. You can contact Miles at  miles.murphy@csa.ca to talk it over.


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