The WinDoor 2017 trade show opened today at the International Centre near Toronto with a full slate of educational programs.

A lively early session tackled the testy topic of product certification.

Tracy Rogers of Keystone Certifications gave attendees a quick primer in product certification, explaining that it’s a means to verify that a given manufactured product is represented by a product that was previously tested. It ensures that means and controls are in place at the manufacturer to enable the fabrication of the product, but it does not mean products are identical. Variations may be allowed in size, components and materials as long as performance does not decrease.

Rogers then described how the certification process works. After a product is tested, the results are sent to a third party such as Keystone Certifications, which comes in and inspects a facility. Next, a Certification Authorization Report is issued that says a manufacturer may place a label on its products.

So why certify?

“The biggest issue is code compliance,” Rogers said. “The label is the simplest way to prove you’re meeting performance requirements. But it also enhances quality, promotes standardization and encourages product development.”

In Canada, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about certification, Rogers said. Compliance standards vary by province. The North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) is harmonized between Canada and the U.S., but it’s not required in all places.

That’s part of the problem, said Mike Bruno, the co-owner of Everlast Windows.

“We’re not getting the message out there about certification,” he said. “If there’s not an understanding from the top coming down to our certification bodies, by the time it comes down to the end user, nobody knows what they’re looking for. There are building inspectors out there who don’t even look at certification.”

One issue is competing certification programs, which can cause confusion in the market. Also, many players, from contractors to designers to architects to inspectors, are unfamiliar with it. That’s part of the problem of setting up national standards enforceable across Canada.

“Developing a certification program is the easy part,” Rogers said. “Education would be the biggest hurdle.”

All attendees agreed that testing and certification programs can add costs to windows.

“Our customers are looking to save 3 percent,” said Bruno. “Meeting new standards could add 18 percent to the price of a window.

WinDoor continues through Thursday. Check for all the news from the event.

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