A Washington-based condominium association has filed a lawsuit against several glass-related companies and the Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC). The suit alleges significant defects in thousands of installed insulating glass units (IGU).

The Fifteen Twenty-One Avenue Condominium Association filed the suit in Washington Federal Court in late December against Viracon, a subsidiary of Apogee Enterprises Inc., Quanex and the IGCC.

According to court documents filed by Fifteen Twenty-One, its 38-story luxury condominium in Seattle (pictured) was encased with a curtainwall featuring Viracon double-lite windows with structural silicone. The association’s attorneys write that instead of the traditional black dual-seal structural silicon, Viracon’s windows featured gray silicone. Photo courtesy of Fifteen Twenty-One.

According to court documents filed by Fifteen Twenty-One, its 38-story luxury condominium in Seattle was encased with a curtainwall featuring Viracon double-lite windows with structural silicone. The association’s attorneys write that instead of the traditional black dual-seal structural silicon, Viracon’s windows featured gray silicone.

On December 6, 2021, association officials discovered a “significant defect” in the buildings’ IGUs. Court documents indicate the “gray-colored sealant between the lites of glass was forming a film, indicating a failure in the dual-seal structural silicone.”

Attorneys for the association said this led to an investigation, revealing the airspace between the IGUs was no longer hermetically sealed and leaked noble gas. They add that this reduced the IGU’s insulating values, affecting the building’s “environmental impact and increasing breakage pressure on glass lites.”

Association officials claim Viracon used gray structural silicone with a primary sealant (Quanex’s JS780 Gray) that lacked Carbon Black, which protects from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. They add that the gray sealant contributed to the IGUs’ dual-seal structural silicon degradation due to long-term sun exposure.

Court documents state that “since all the IGUs installed at the Fifteen Twenty-One Second building will not last their anticipated useful life, have encroachment into the vision space of the windows, are leaking gas, are adversely affecting the environment and increasing breakage pressure on glass lites, they all must be removed and replaced.”

Association officials estimate that the removal and replacement costs for all IGUs on the building, approximately 7,850, exceeds $1 million.

Association attorneys argue that Viracon, Apogee, Quanex and IGCC conspired to violate the Washington Consumer Protection Act. This is because each IGU on the building was stamped with a “false and misleading certification of quality, allegedly from IGCC, Viracon, Apogee and Quanex.”

Attorneys also allege that each defendant was aware of the false consumer protection certification and “have agreed to perpetuate the ongoing misrepresentation by failing to notify consumers that the certification is false.”

They add that IGCC is “neither objective nor an independent third party” because the Viracon design engineer involved in the development of the gray IGUs was the president of IGCC at the time of the alleged certification. Additionally, they also allege that Viracon, Apogee and Quanex officials met and agreed in writing to conceal the known seal failure defects and the false IGCC certification.

Condo jobs, while often attractive, can come with a high risk of liability, says Lexology, and the glass industry has been plagued by many condo lawsuits over the years.

2 Comments

  1. As I read this, I am no longer angry that my insurance carrier limits my work to buildings with 12 family units or less. This case is a nightmare.

  2. My questions are how many units have actually failed? Failed as in taking on moisture, or effecting the vision area of the window? In my area the the whole gas thing is a joke, we are at elevation and require breather tubes yet they spec gas filled IGS anyway.
    My insurance company excludes multi family housing just for this reason. Lawyers!!!!

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