FGIA Sessions Highlight Certification Program Updates and Energy Star 7 Deadline

February 22nd, 2024 by Joshua Huff

The deadline for Energy Star 7.0 reports is fast approaching, said Kathy Krafka Harkema, U.S. technical operations director for the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA). Krafka Harkema’s session opened the third day of FGIA’s 2024 Annual Conference at the Omni Amelia Island Resort near Jacksonville, Florida, this week. The conference runs through Thursday.

The third day of the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) 2024 Annual Conference opened with a presentation from Kathy Krafka Harkema.

She discussed recent U.S. legislative and regulatory updates impacting the door and window industry. The deadline for reports associated with Energy Star 7.0 is March 1, 2024. If companies don’t submit documents by that time, they will be removed from the Energy Star-approved listing. However, according to a poll of FGIA attendees, most companies in attendance are not Energy Star partners. The 25% of attendees affiliated with Energy Star say they will file their documents using the FGIA/Window and Door Manufacturers Association portal to submit.

“It’s really important that you get your data in by March 1,” said Krafka Harkema.

For more Energy Star info, check out the following [DWM] stories:

In other news, Krafka Harkema said U.S. mortgage rates are hovering around 7%, leading to hesitancy in the housing market. She also discussed the ramifications surrounding the $2 million fine levied against Kubota North America Corp. for alleged violations of made-in-USA claims for parts—the largest civil penalty levied by the Federal Trade Commission. Krafka Harkema said companies need to familiarize themselves with the laws or face the same fate.

Amy Roberts, FGIA’s director of Canadian and Technical Glass Operations, shifted the discussion to Canada, where interest rates remain relatively high. She explained that if interest rates slow, the Canadian construction industry will see strong demand in 2024. Interest rates currently sit around 2.9%, down from 3.4% in December.

Per the Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative, Canada needs to build 5.8 million new homes by 2030. Roberts said this would alleviate rising home prices and provide ample jobs for door and window companies.

Roberts also touched upon sustainability, explaining that Canada’s 2023 Emissions Reduction Plan released its first progress report. However, an analysis from the Fraser Institute mentioned that the plan is a costly addition to the federal carbon tax. It will impose costs while contributing little to Canada’s emissions reduction goal.

All About Desiccants

Desiccants are placed between lites of glass to absorb moisture. According to Shulin Cui, president of SilicaStar Industries, they remove moisture and solvent vapor after assembly. The goal is to maintain low dew points for the life of the insulating glass unit (IGU).

Common types of desiccants include silica gel, alumina, carbon, zeolite and montmorillonite clay. The most common types of desiccants used in an IGU are silica gel and zeolites.

Gerhard Reichert, president of Glasslam, discussed the Calcium Oxide 3A (CaO) desiccant, which has gained momentum recently in glass applications. In fact, 25% of global IG markets are CaO-based. In terms of square footage, 2.7 billion square feet of global IG contain CaO desiccant, said Reichert.

The base material of CaO is limestone.

“It’s cradle to grave,” said Reichert. “There’s no chemistry involved … It’s made in a dry process. No wastewater is discharged. More eco-friendly. ”

CaO is also much slower than traditional zeolite, added Reichert. That means you get more life out of your desiccant. Additionally, CaO is more tuned as a one-time desiccant, which is essential for usage in warm-edge spacers.

Program Updates

Amy Becker, FGIA’s glass products specialist, shifted the conversation to testing for Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC)/Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) and IGMAC (Canada) certifications. Becker said it takes about one year to get tested for the IGCC/ IGMA and five months for IGMAC. Manufacturers can certify for both programs, she said. There are ways to get expedited certifications, including provisional certification and transferring existing certified products from one facility to another.

Becker also said that vacuum-insulating glass (VIG) can be certified. Both programs meet the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) requirements for IGUs used in certification by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) for inclusion in the Energy Star Program. Both programs are accredited.

Jason Seals, FGIA’s certification services manager, then dove into updates to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). He said the Air/Water/Structural Certification Program (AAMA 103/104) is being updated. Changes include allowances for virtual inspections. Qualified licensees in good standing can have a virtual inspection once every 24 months.

AAMA updates also include a new requirement for vinyl fenestration manufacturers to perform corner welding per AAMA 320. Seals added that the NFRC is seeking accreditation for the NFRC 700 certification program to ISO/IEC 17065. To do this, NFRC is rewriting some documents in the NFRC 700 family. The documents will become NFRC 7000. FGIA has provided comments for some of the documents.

“It’s going to be a big change right here,” said Seals. “The comments that we have submitted have been well received.”

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