Volume 41, Issue 9 - September 2006

Sizzling Summer Meeting
IGMA Tackles Issues in Toronto 
by Brigid O'Leary

The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) summer meeting took place at the Sheraton Center in Toronto July 29 - August 1, addressing issues important to the industry in both North America and abroad.

The event began with an early morning meeting of the certification and education committee. Those who assembled gathered at 8 a.m. to look at several issues, starting with the addition of the certification aspect to the education committee, both in name and scope.

The addition of certification to the role of the education committee, it was explained, was two-fold. Brian Burnet of AFG Industries and chairperson of the IGMAC Certification Procedures Committee recently retired. His absence created a need for IGMA to address certification issues. With his departure, IGMA executive director Margaret Webb felt it would be beneficial to have documented IGMA stances on issues of certification. 

The first part of the meeting was spent defining the objectives and goals of the committee in light of the new addition.
After the discussion of goals and objectives, which were tentatively approved, the committee turned its attention to the IGMA educational programs. Upcoming is the Insulating Glass (IG) Failures educational seminar that will be presented this month, as well as at Win-door in Toronto in November and again in Tampa in December. 

Following the update on the IG failure seminar, the committee began further planning of a seminar IGMA will offer: a quality procedure course.

Committee members discussed what the most important needs to be addressed in the course should be and the language that would be needed to clearly and adequately address the objectives and goals within the program. A decision was made to create a task group that will hold conference calls to facilitate further refinement of the course content and present a proposal of the course curriculum at the next IGMA meeting in February 2007.

The committee also discussed specific certification needs. Members reviewed a report from the gas-filling working group, and discussed that group’s recommendations regarding how much gas filling would be mandated for both initial and final fill for a company seeking durability certification.

“What we’re talking about is workmanship,” said Webb. “This is the test method. We’re testing a manufacturer’s ability to make a good seal.”

A straw vote of the work group voted 25 to five in favor of 90 percent initial gas fill and 80 percent final gas fill after testing, a result mirrored by the straw poll of the certification and education committee, which had only one dissenting vote.

A consensus was reached that the point had to be stressed that the 90-80 percent requirements were merely testing requirements as proof that an IG system could retain gas fill to a given degree and not a reflection of the percentages of fill a manufacturer is expected to use in the final product. 

Before adjourning, the committee reviewed the guidelines governing the testing of double- versus triple-glazed units, agreeing to stay with the current IGMA guideline that all triple-glazed units must be tested, and double-glazed units of like construction from the same manufacturer qualify without separate testing.

Hard-Working Working Groups 
After lunch, the priority of the glazing guidelines workgroup was a review of Amendment #2 of the glazing guidelines, particularly regarding the use of thermoplastics and the compatibility thereof with sealants. After adding the word “virgin” to the amendment for clarification of the type of thermoplastics used, the group moved on to a question posed to IGMA at a previous industry event. Under recommendation by another industry member, Webb brought up the subject of the use of setting blocks with vinyl windows, but the group decided it did not warrant further discussion. Rather, the group moved on to new business, a debate about whether or not capillary tubes should be sealed, and if so, how.

“I’m all for an industry position. I think we’re all better off [with one industry position] than with many different positions,” said Rick Wright of Oldcastle Glass.

A general consensus was of the same sentiment, but members also agreed that no final decision would be made at that time. Instead, a task group was formed and will draft a proposal of the appropriate language for an industry consensus on the sealing of capillary tubes, to be presented at the next meeting.

Rounding out the glazing guidelines meeting was a discussion of a 1993-research paper that states that the setting blocks used on residential glazing installations should be more than 3 mm thick. Though the report generated thoughtful dialogue, a task group was created to look further into the study, its findings and propose what to do about it.

Up second was the gas permeability working group, the focus of which was to talk about phase 2 of the gas permeability project.

“Phase 1 is essentially done,” said Bruce Virnelson of PRC DeSoto International, committee chairperson. 

Despite much discussion about various related topics, including the test design, other options for the testing process, the potential cost and the variables associated with it, the group emitted an overall lack of strong feeling on the topic and to help keep things moving, Virnelson suggested creating a draft of the request for proposal.

“I don’t think we should abandon the concept until there’s proof it won’t work,” said Jeff Haberer of Cardinal IG.

The thermal stress working group was up next, with several objectives. In the absence of Steve Crandel, group chair, Bill Lingnell led the meeting.

After some dialogue regarding the “Dos and Don’ts” guidelines, the committee took a look at the IGMA Thermal Stress Field Service Inspection record and made recommendations for changes to the language. The result was fine-tuning the one-page document that works similarly to a check list and allows glaziers in the field to report back breakage; the data—and samples in some cases—will be collected by IGMA for review with hopes to determine the cause of some of the breakage.

Wrapping up the first day of meetings was the visual quality working group, chaired by Joe Hayden of Pella Corp. Most of the meeting centered around the definitions created by the task group, which were presented to the committee for review and were subjected to several changes. Once the definitions were completed—and at least one turned back over to the smaller working group for refinement—the next topic of discussion was conformance requirements. Adhesive residue, desiccant dusting, dirt/debris, fingerprints, fogging and suction/vacuum cup marks, all as defined by the group in the previous discussion, are not allowed; marks (also as defined by the group discussion) are expected to follow ASTM C 1036. The variation of muntin/grill alignment shall, and the sightlines of spacers and sealants should, be no greater than 3mm.

Day Two: Everything On Cue
Following a breakfast buffet at which Luc Cormier, IGMA president, discussed IGMA’s strategic plan for the future, attendees heard technical presentations from Ray Wakefield of Trulite, Jeff Haberer of Cardinal and André Piers of TNO.

Wakefield was first to take center stage, making a presentation on mock-up testing—what it is, why it’s important and how mock-up testing works.

“The importance of the mock-up is that it provides invaluable information to the design team to assist them all—from the architect to building owner to glazing contractor and even us as glass suppliers. In giving us unique information about how that particular system is going to perform, it isn’t like an off-the-shelf storefront assembly. This [an IGU] is a highly-engineered product and needs this type of testing to assure that it’s going to work,” he said.

Wakefield provided photos of testing and images of designs as they were proposed before testing and the final product as it was built, with the factors of the testing taken into account before construction began. 

“The idea behind why the tests are done in the order they are is because you’re going to do a pre-test to make sure the wall will function properly before you begin working on the additional tests, but in affect, you’re going to abuse the wall through a series of tests and then repeat it with water, wind … to make sure [the unit is sealed well],” he said.

Additionally, he took his audience through the experience of having a building tested and what those who are having the test conducted are feeling at the time their mock-ups are being subjected to wind, water and simulations of other forces of nature. 

“Usually [there are two] expressions on people’s faces at the construction lab during mock-up testing—people are usually smiling or frowning. There’s rarely anything in between; they’re either happy that it’s working and ready to move on to the next [step] or upset that it isn’t working and getting ready to take it apart and figure out what went wrong,” he said.

Haberer took to the podium after Wakefield to present the findings of Cardinal’s residential field project, which compared the energy efficiencies of clear glass, high solar gain low-E glass and low solar gain low-E glass. The company built identical houses in three different locations across the United States—two houses in Roseville, Calif., three houses in Windrose, Texas, and four houses in Fort Wayne, Ind.—at least one house in each location being equipped with low solar gain low-E glass; each house was scientifically measured and monitored for energy used, solar heat gained and how much the air condition and heating units in the house worked to keep the interior temperature at a consistent state.

His presentation included a short video of Cardinal’s findings, which reflected what Haberer says many in the industry have always believed—it just offers scientific proof that the industry was right.

“The point is you’re going to reduce emissions by having low solar gain products,” he said.

Piers finished off the morning with a presentation about European requirements for gas fill, explaining to attendees how gas fill is currently measured.

“In Europe, we have subsidized programs from the government so that home owners can get price reductions if they replace windows with high-performance glass,” he said, explaining that in Europe the U-value “is only intended for comparison of performance of products under the same conditions and thus makes no statement for actual in service U-value.”

It’s Over Already?
The summer meeting wrapped up earlier than anticipated on Tuesday, August 1, with an abbreviated schedule.

Bill Lingnell of Lingnell Consulting Services made a presentation in which he told attendees how to go about conducting a complete investigation on failed IG units or those which might warrant further study to prevent failure and showed results of his own field investigations of insulating glass units that may have failed or needed a second look at performance levels.

Lingnell began his presentation with a list of different, but important, aspects and functions that architectural glass should provide, such as transparency, color and resistance to weather. 

“Investigation may be required when some of these main items [are not performing as they should],” he said.

He explained that with on-site investigations, research into the building’s history should be conducted, though he warned that sometimes that research is hard to accomplish. He advised his audience to talk to installers, contractors or fabricators if possible, as they are the people who know what went into the building (and may still be overseeing the maintenance of the glazing), and also to obtain copies of the original shop drawings whenever possible. 

“I’d say half the time I go into a building that [needs to be] investigated but the shop drawings [can’t be found]—they got lost in the shuffle or during management turnover or [someone] thinks [they are]under a particular table …[but] shop drawings are critical because they tell you what was supposed to be there,” he said.

Sharing photos of investigations he has conducted, Lingnell encouraged his audience to document the results of visual examinations in notes and with photos and to take accurate measurements, which are necessary to validate conformance (or non-conformance) to specifications. 

Following Lingnell, André Piers of TNO returned to the podium for his second time in front of the group to discuss certification in the European market.

As he explained, the standards for IG certification in Europe vary somewhat from the standards in Canada and the United States, but the requirements also overlap in some ways.

One important difference is that in Europe, every six months, a company’s management representative files a report about the results of conformity control tests and manufacturers are required to keep these reports and results of any action points mentioned therein for at least five years, sometimes longer depending on the country. 

Another difference is that in Europe, IG units that are CE certified have labels that reflect what the intended use of the unit is and what parameters it meets, such as sound reduction and fire-resistance. The labels reflect to what degree manufacturers have created the unit to meet these different aspects of glazing and are held liable to what they say the unit can do.

“Manufacturers must keep this in mind: what do I put in [as] my intended use and what don’t I put in [as] my intended use?” he said.

Additionally, part of the certification process in Europe requires the system manufacturer to submit for testing sample units that are representative of the units that are not perfect but that the company is still willing to sell to the public.

The next IGMA meeting is scheduled for February 21-25, 2007, in Tampa, Fla.

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