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DOE eyes mandatory insulating glass certification

In a continued push for energy efficient and sustainable building products, the U.S. Department of Energy is investigating insulating glass certification requirements for manufacturers, says Margaret Webb, executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance in Ottawa, Ontario.

DOE officials approached representatives from the National Fenestration Rating Council in Silver Spring, Md., to learn more about existing certification programs and to possibly incorporate an IG certification program into NFRC's ratings. At the NFRC meeting Nov. 6-9 Arlington, Va., four representatives from the certification and insulating glass sides of the industry, including Webb, spoke to membership about existing programs, the benefits of these programs and possible ways to incorporate them into the organization for the DOE’s needs.

There are four IG certification programs for the North American market, all voluntary, said Marcia Falke, president of Keystone Certification Inc. in Etters, Pa. This past month, Keystone Certification became the certification program administrator for IGMA.

The IG certification programs test the durability of a unit’s seal and its ability to retain gas fill, which directly relates to a unit’s thermal and energy performance, Falke said.

“The IG unit does affect how much heat loss you’re going to get through your windows, so the long-term durability of glass is important. It has a big effect on the performance of a window,” Falke said.

In response to the DOE request, NFRC created the IG Durability Task Group a year ago.

“The DOE is looking at requirements for IG certification and wanting to know how many of the current windows that are out there or that are being manufactured are certified,” Webb said. “The IG Durability Task Group is working to get hard numbers.”

John G. Kent, administrator for the Insulating Glass Certification Council in Henderson Harbor, N.Y., estimates that fewer than half of all IG manufacturers certify their products. So, a mandatory program could alter the certification industry, Kent said. “Our certification programs are all voluntary,” he said. “When considering a requirement for IG certification, we have to also consider testing capacity. Currently, most of IG testing companies are at or near capacity, so if the need for more testing goes up, how do you come up with places to test?”

Once more concrete figures are obtained about the number of certified IG units, the NFRC task group will have to work to address feasibility issues. The organization also will have to choose whether to require manufacturers to participate in one of the other certification programs, or to create its own internal program, Falke said.

 

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