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July - August 2003

fenestration focus

Harmon is Such a Lovely Word
HIGS to Harmonize U.S. and Canadian Standards
by Ken Shelbourn

Harmony is on its way. The Insulating Glass Manu-facturers Association of Canada (IGMAC) and the Sealed Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association (SIGMA) of the United States merged in October 2000 to form the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA).

An initiative started by IGMAC and SIGMA to harmonize North American IG test standards—a process commonly known as HIGS—is starting to bear fruit. The push for HIGS originated because of the multitude of window companies shipping IG units between the United States and Canada. These companies must certify products with both American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards in the United States and Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) standards in Canada.

Most industry certification and testing organizations have approved the HIGS standards in conjunction with current ASTM and CGSB testing. However, the hope is that the entire industry will continue to keep harmonization at the forefront.

Naturally, the establishment of a unified standard requires committee approval from both organizations. While CGSB has yet to meet regarding the change of its CAN/CGSB-12.8 standard, ASTM effectively has adopted the following HIGS standards that should eventually replace the older ASTM E773/E774 (CBA) standards: ASTM E2188 – Standard Test Method for IG Unit Performance; ASTM E2189 – Standard Test Method for Testing Resistance to Fogging in IG Units; and ASTM E2190 – Standard Specifi-cation for IG Unit Performance and Evaluation.

Once complete, a standardized program will unify requirements for manufacturers, allowing them to sell windows under the same guidelines in both countries. The likely result will be the elimination of ASTM E773/E774 and either a cosponsored standard between ASTM and CGSB or the elimination of the CGSB-12.8 standard in favor of HIGS.

HIGS is making progress among the following certification bodies: 

IGMA. The Canadian portion of IGMA’s certification program (still referenced as the IGMAC Certification Program) continues to exist for the purpose of certification to the CGSB-12.8 standard. However, IGMA recently added a new certification program utilizing HIGS standards and already has participation from both U.S. and Canadian manufacturers. For Canadian companies choosing the new program, IGMA will provide letters to customers and jurisdictional authorities citing its equivalency to CGSB-12.8. IGMA’s certification program recognizes other certification programs when tested to HIGS, including:

Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC). Leading the way toward the exclusive use of HIGS, IGCC intends to drop acceptance of the ASTM E773/774 standards as of January 1, 2005, in favor of HIGS standards. The original thought was to make a one-year transition, but delays in approval by CGSB and the realization that the phase-out of ASTM E773/774 would take longer than anticipated bumped IGCC’s transition to two years. IGCC will test to both standards through 2004.

National Accreditation and Management Institute Inc. (NAMI). NAMI currently recognizes both the ASTM E773/774 and HIGS standards. The organization will honor both until ASTM officially withdraws ASTM E773/774. Specializing in fenestration products, NAMI provides certification and inspection services.

“We have harmonization in the certification community so we’d like that passed down into the political arena,” noted Sharon Durand, president, NAMI.

Associated Laboratories Inc. (ALI). Like NAMI, ALI will recognize both standards until ASTM withdraws the older one. Due to the expenses of switching its testing lab to meet the new HIGS standards, ALI continues to test to only ASTM E773/774. However, ALI will accept testing if a manufacturer submits IG units tested to HIGS standards at other labs.

The next step to achieving harmony hinge on the approval of HIGS processes by a CGSB committee. Once approved by CGSB, HIGS has a high likelihood of passing and becoming the industry certification standard for North America. 

Ken Shelbourn is a senior technical specialist with TruSeal Technologies Technical Services Group and has more than 25 years of experience in the industry.

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