FGIA Gathers Members for Its Annual Conference Under New Brand

The inaugural Annual Conference of the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) marked the first gathering since the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) joined as a new entity. The meeting was held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in February.

Glass Products Council

To begin the Glass Products Council meeting, John Kent with the Insulating Glass Certification Council’s (IGCC) addressed the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (AGMT) and North American Contractor Certification (NACC) Certification Programs. NACC has 27 certified contract glazing companies, which he said is lower than they thought it would be at this point. The AGMT program has had 322 candidates thus far and an average 64% pass rate. He reported that 260 are certified now.

“It’s not easy,” said Kent. “Everyone wants well-rounded people. Candidates usually bomb one category but then the average is 81% after a retest.”

Kent also updated members on the Rapid Assessment Chamber (RAC) committee, whose goal is to fail units with defects in under 14 days. Kent stated that the group is running more trials and needs more data so they are working on building two new chambers.

Marg Webb, FGIA glass products and Canadian industry affairs director and formerly the executive director of IGMA, reminded attendees that during the last few meetings the group had discussed the creation of an industry-wide Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for processed glass, but never got it moving.

Committee member Helen Sanders, responsible for strategic business development at Technoform North America, told those in attendance that having an EPD for glass products is required.

“Glass companies are starting to create their own EPDs and the smaller fabricators can’t afford this so a way to remove the barrier is to develop an industry-wide EPD,” she said. “But you can’t use that EPD if you aren’t involved in creating it and providing data. I suggest the fabricators in this room do this. It could cost $30,000-$50,000 if you do it individually so it would be cheaper through FGIA where you have multiple companies contributing.”

FGIA Codes and Regulatory Update

“Following regulatory issues right now is like doing the Texas two-step,” said Kathy Krafka Harkema, FGIA’s U.S. codes and regulatory affairs manager at the Regulatory Steering Committee meeting. “When they move, they move faster than I have seen in my life.”

Krafka Harkema moved through a rapid-fire presentation to update members on everything from energy to trade and even the novel coronavirus. She told attendees that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidance on its website regarding how to prevent the spread, including regulations for personal protective equipment.

When the conversation turned to energy, there was a great deal to report, as some groups have ambitious targets in mind.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), for example, is placing significant funding into research examining how volatile organic compounds and emissions might be reduced—to which about $5 million is allocated in California, Krafka Harkema explained.

She also informed attendees that there are proposed changes to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, which, she said, hasn’t been updated since 1978.

“The proposed changes will help simplify this program,” she said. Krafka Harkema also informed attendees about the U.S. Clean Future Act—a piece of legislation that she said is “being shopped around.”

“This is a very bold initiative,” she said. “They are aiming to have a 100% clean economy by 2050.”

The legislation would also propose a Buy Clean program, and has an overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“They want to influence building code revisions to achieve zero-energy-ready
buildings by 2030,” she said. “Folks, that is only a few code cycles away.”

Common Installation Problems

“The biggest trend we are seeing is pre-fabricated façades,” said Christopher Grey, senior project manager for Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, an engineering firm that designs, investigates and rehabilitates building enclosures. “This is changing the way products are installed.”

He gave a presentation on the most common issues in design through construction with a focus on glazing systems. He said one problem the firm always sees is poor systems engineering. Grey added that the firm’s focus is to look at each system differently.

He also shared some stories highlighting why communication is always key.

“We recognize that architects work with window manufacturers,” said Grey. “Sometimes architects are designing systems a manufacturer has never made. This could have been alleviated ahead of time if they had just spoken to the window manufacturer.”

Another problem the firm sees often is poor coordination when it comes to sequencing—something contractors often ignore.

The 2020 FGIA National Summer Conference will take place June 22-25 at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park in Chicago.

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