The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) looked to accelerate new standards and initiatives this week in Montreal, leaning into that city’s status as a Formula One host with the theme “Start Your Engines – On Track for Success.” The event also serves as a final lap for a face-to-face format, as officials announced its Summer Conference will transition to a virtual setting starting in 2025.

“As part of the objective focused on delivering purposeful events, the summer conference will be transitioned into a fully virtual event beginning in 2025, allowing for focus on two in-person conferences each year,” said FGIA’s executive director Janice Yglesias.

FGIA’s Summer Conference takes place this week in Montreal.

Yglesias said the organization won’t supplant its in-person format with an online setting. “Instead, it will be an entirely different format that is focused on delivering information, educational content, high-impact and high-value speakers,” she suggested. “If anyone has attended any of our virtual regional events, like our southeast region or our western region, it will be more in that vein.”

The schedule will also be shorter, she explained, “Probably a couple of days.”

Meanwhile, key topics tackled on day one of this year’s in-person format include natural disaster standards, new plastics regulations for Canada, and a task group that aims to bring security screens to the forefront through a testing and certification program.

Fresh New Involvement

The arrival of security screen companies and a related task group is a new development for FGIA, said Jeff Bell, president and CEO of Unique Home Designs, a security screen manufacturer, and committee co-chair.

While security doors have been in the market for decades, they typically involve reinforcement materials such as steel bars or pickets. Security screens, made up of high-tensile, stainless-steel woven mesh, serve as an alternative reinforcement method. To date, no testing or certification exists in the United States that back product claims about performance.

In Australia, where homeowners are more apt to rely on open doors and windows for ventilation, security screens have been commonplace for around 20 years. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans caught on to this option but lack any certification program to lean on, Bell said. Now, the industry is looking to Australia for guidance.

In 2003, Standards Australia, a non-government, not-for-profit standards organization, released a standard governing the performance of security screens, which it then updated in 2023. Under the leadership of Bell and co-chair Ray Garries, president of Global Fenestration Advisors, FGIA is now utilizing the framework developed in Australia to build a North American standard.

“We signed the agreement with Standards Australia to be able to use their intellectual property to develop this North American security screen specification,” said Jason Seals, FGIA’s certification services manager.

The group has arranged with Standards Australia to license its documents as a basis for development.

“It’s really big news that we’ve reached an agreement with those guys,” Garries said. “There are other things that can happen now that we’ve reached this partnership with Standards Australia that go beyond security screens.”

FGIA’s Security Screens Task Group is reviewing and making edits to a final draft of its testing standard, using the summer conference to clarify key points around issues such as testing and hardware. After a final draft is established, a ballot will be submitted to FGIA’s membership for approval before developing a final certification standard and compliance program. Standards will cover impact, pry, pull, sheer, and knife shear tests.

Impending Plastics Regulations

To keep its members informed about the latest developments in plastics and “forever chemicals,” the alliance brought in Peter Mirtchev, Ph.D., policy manager, plastics, for the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) to discuss impending regulations.

Peter Mirtchev, Ph.D., policy manager, plastics, for the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), discussed impending regulations in Canada.

“From a regulatory perspective, plastics are high on the radar and will continue to be a focus,” Mirtchev warned FGIA members.

As the “national voice of the Canadian plastics industry,” Mirtchev’s organization is fighting regulations that discard the value of some products and materials while generalizing them, he said.

“Oftentimes, when [plastics are] discarded, unfortunately, they do end up in the environment, and that’s how we’ve ended up with what we now have—a significant plastic pollution problem that we need to address as an industry, while also promoting the continued success of our products,” Mirtchev said.

The goal should be a circular economy, he suggested—one that attaches value to the use of certain plastics, while engineering products for recycling and reuse in new materials.

“Up here, in Canada, our money is made from plastic. Our banknotes and our bills are plastic. Why don’t you ever see money in the ocean and in the rivers? Because it has assigned value,” he said. “That’s the kind of thinking we want to promote around plastics in general. If there’s a value in the proposition, then that will lead to a mediation of the plastic pollution issues that we’re seeing.”

Regarding recent developments about single-use prohibitions, “They went after some of the low-hanging fruit,” such as checkout bags, cutlery and foodservice wares, he said. But there will be a wider focus in the years ahead, he warned. By December 20, 2025, some products will not be allowed in Canada, but those decisions are linked to “political capital,” he suggested.

“Rather than bans, we should be investing in recycling and infrastructure and innovation to harness the over eight million valued plastics that are currently sent to landfills, and that value should be circulated into the economy,” Mirtchev said.

Other efforts mentioned by Mirtchev included recycled content minimums and labeling, for which regulatory framework was released in March 2023. Regulations target rigid and flexible packaging.

Tuesday evening, attendees participated in a scavenger hunt, covering the historic district of Montreal.

Another recent focus includes per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Developed in the 1940s, PFAS are man-made and do not occur naturally, predating modern concerns about the environment and human health, he said. The two most common forms are PFOS and PFOA.

Issues for PFAS center on carbon-fluorine bonds, or “forever chemicals,” which, when released into the environment are very slow to degrade. The current group of compounds targeted through government-led regulations in Canada includes 5,000 compounds—some of which are found in construction materials, Mirtchev said.

“They propose grouping 5,000 chemicals as one,” he said. Meanwhile, not all PFAS substances are the same, he said, and not all are harmful to human health and the environment. The vast majority haven’t been studied in detail, Mirtchev said. For this reason, his organization is calling for subgroupings to help add clarification, along with individual risk assessments.

Plastics are just one of many environmental topics on the schedule for FGIA this week. The conference lasts through Thursday, before Formula One arrives for the weekend.

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