IGMA addresses LCA and IG certification challenges at annual meeting
About 100 glass industry representatives gathered in New Orleans last week for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Annual Conference, where life cycle assessment and IG certification inspired much discussion.
The meeting kicked off with the organization's Emerging Technologies and Innovation Committee, covering topics from gas permeability to vacuum insulating glazing to life cycle assessment. Members of the life cycle task group noted the challenges in developing an LCA for glass and window products (an LCA addresses the embodied energy/carbon footprint of a product, taking into account factors such as climate change, acidification, fossil fuel depletion and human toxicity).
"Life cycle is a hard thing to get your hands around," said Jeff Haberer, technical services engineer at Cardinal Glass Industries. "Determining the life cycle of an appliance is more straightforward. However, the effect a window has on building energy is impacted by numerous factors: occupants, climate, location, building type."
IGMA is part of a joint industry group that is collectively addressing life cycle assessment of fenestration products. The group includes the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Glass Association of North America and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. Currently, the group is working to develop the product category rules (PCR) necessary for conducting the LCA. The group is about six months away from finishing the PCR, said Helen Sanders, vice president, technical business development, at SAGE Electrochromics, and head of the LCA Task Group for IGMA.
Looking ahead, Sanders said the IGMA task group might want to consider developing a PCR specifically for insulating glass. "At some point, we as an industry have to figure out what we are going to do to develop the PCR for fabricated glass," she said.
The transition from voluntary IG certification to near mandatory certification has created a number of unexpected challenges for IG manufacturers, according to John Kent, administrative manager of the Insulating Glass Certification Council. With the move from voluntary IG certification to regulatory, "the cost of failure is exponentially increasing," Kent said.
One concern is what happens when a company fails certification. "Companies have to have certification to sell products," Kent said. How will the industry deal with the failure? If a company fails twice, "will they have to close their doors? IG certification has taken on a whole new meaning in this environment," Kent said.
Another major concern is the time required to test products. The mandatory certification requires that any product changes or new introductions be certified, presenting manufacturers with a challenge as they work to innovate and bring new products to market. "We have heard a lot about innovation and new technology. But, can a company wait seven months for certification?" Kent asked.
IGCC is investigating alternative methods of granting certification in a shorter period of time.
Codes and standards
The group discussed several updates to codes and standards that will affect the industry, including the ASTM E 2141 standard addressing electrochromic insulating glass and the efforts of another ASTM group looking into structural glass. "There is a move within this group to come up with a structural glass standard for glaziers, designers and engineers," said Bill Lingnell, president of Lingnell Consulting Services, Rockwall, Texas, and technical consultant to IGMA.
On the residential side, the comment period has ended for Draft 2 of Energy Star Version 6.0 for windows, doors and skylights. Comments will be reviewed through March, and the program is scheduled to be published in April. Manufacturers should anticipate increasingly stringent U-factor requirements, in addition to revised glazing level definitions for doors. For information on changes to the skylight portion, click here.
Additionally, government rebates for Energy Star products have been reinstated. The rebates will be retroactive through 2012 and into 2013.
The IECC also is addressing the use of foam insulating sheeting on the exterior of the wall. "In some situations, you might be installing a window over foam. There is a joint effort at FMA, AAMA and WDMA to develop a standard for installing windows over this foam," said Jim Krahn, manager of codes and regulatory at Marvin Windows and Doors.
IGMA's various task groups continued to make progress on their respective activities. The Glazing Guidelines Task Group addressed comments for the glazing guidelines document it is developing with GANA. The document passed through the task group and will move to the association's Technical Policy committee before going to committee at GANA for approval.
During the Thermal Stress Task Group, Lingnell presented a progress report for an ASTM standard to reduce thermal stress breakage. The standard will provide glass companies with charts of the characteristics of thermal stress, outlining the factors that lead to thermal stress. "We have developed the program on how to study thermal stress in insulating glass. Now, we have to get all the data for all of the types of systems that go into this study—the frame types, glass types. ... The next step is to do the thermal stress analysis," Lingnell said.
The Multiple Cavity IGU Task Group, Dimensional Tolerances Task Group, and Visual Quality Task Group also met during the conference.
IGMA's next meeting is the Summer Technical Conference, Aug. 6 to 9 in Halifax.