The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance had good news for attendees of its Summer Conference on Wednesday—especially those living and working in Canada, where the event is taking place.

“Canada’s Consumer Price Index cooled to 2.7% in April,” said Amy Roberts, FGIA’s director of Canadian and technical glass operations.
“This is down from the 2.9% mark in March. This continued decline is a happy sign for the Central Bank, which will make its next interest rate decision on … June 5,” Roberts said, before realizing, “Which is today.”

Attendees at the FGIA Summer Conference got good news about the Canadian housing market.

“It went down,” one attendee called out.

“A quarter point,” another responded, eliciting a brief applause and a few “whoops” from attendees.

Regarding the outlook for construction, Roberts said Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. expects total housing starts to be 6.6% lower in 2024, but for the market to regain momentum in 2025-26, as interest rates further decrease. National home sales, in general, are expected to climb 10.5% in 2024.

Like the U.S., housing availability and affordability remain a top priority for Canadians, Roberts said.

“On April 16, Canadian Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, unveiled the federal budget in the house of commons containing several facets worth noting for construction,” she said. “Housing was the dominant theme, in both the document and the brief budget announcements.”
A new plan aims to unlock 3.87 million new homes in 2031.

A New Label Is Coming to Town

Other points in the conference received more questions than applause, including an amendment to the Energy Efficiency Regulations for Manufactured Fenestration Products. Updates will require a new label for doors and windows in Canada.

While no minimum performance requirements are currently tied to regulations, a centralized database system for labeling fenestration products is set to unify existing certification programs, said Adam Buist, a standards engineer with Natural Resources Canada. Buist said his group is in talks with the National Fenestration Rating Council and Energy Star Canada.

While doors and windows don’t “use” energy, they are linked to energy use among buildings, Buist said. For this reason, the Energy Efficiency Act, passed in 1992, provides the authority to require product labeling and verification—including testing by certification bodies for energy efficiency marks and required standards. Canadian federal regulations apply to products manufactured in or imported to Canada.

The overall goal of new labeling requirements includes a “level playing field,” Buist said, and a scope of coverage that extends to the retrofit market.

Regulation will be aimed primarily at information gathering, he assured attendees, not performance standards. Under the program’s current draft, starting January 1, 2028, labeling must include product identification, manufacturer date and model type and class, as well as a model ID code or NFRC CPD number. A mark for the certification body responsible for testing must also be included, along with U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient ratings.

Act Fast on PFAS

Among the most prevalent topics at this year’s Summer Conference—both in sessions and at dinner tables—includes PFAS. With a workforce that’s grown to more than 17,000 full-time employees, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is well equipped to take aim at “forever plastics” and other environmental issues, said FGIA U.S. technical operations director Kathy Krafka Harkema.

“PFAS is a topic we’re probably going to be talking about for a long time, folks, at all of these conferences, because it’s the topic of regulatory news all across the country,” Harkema told attendees.

Conversations continued outside of the conference sessions, with attendees discussing topics, such as PFAS, during breaks.

In Canada, there are currently around 5,000 PFAS chemicals; in the U.S., the number is more like 15,000, she said.

In April, EPA finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six PFAS, including the first cleanup programs. With a June 25, 2024, effective date, the regulation marks the largest ever investment in federal funds earmarked for PFAS—including $9 billion, plus an additional $12 billion for general drinking water investments, including PFAS treatments. The goal includes no presence of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water. By 2027, public water systems will have to complete an initial monitoring.

“Some of your products may or may not have PFAS in them,” Harkema said. “What I want to point out is—with the EPA, every report you issue to them and that you’re subject to is open to the public. This toxic release inventory report is no exception, because this is a public database and available online.”

For this reason, Harkema urged door and window companies to take reporting requirements seriously.

Carbon Cutting

Another environmental topic that door and window companies must increasingly bear in mind includes the role of embodied carbon, which is essentially the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with upstream stages of a product’s life, said Kayla Natividad, architectural technical services engineer for NSG Pilkington.

The U.S. industrial sector is linked to nearly a third of annual U.S. GHG emissions, and the manufacturing of construction materials accounts for 11% of annual global GHG emissions, Natividad said. While a primary focus of fenestration products includes energy efficiency, over time the role of embodied carbon will become more important, she suggested. Currently, 28% of annual global building sector CO2 emissions stem from embodied carbon, while 72% comes from building operations. As operational emissions decrease, those proportions change, making embodied carbon even more of a focus.

Three product category rules relate to fenestration and glazing, Natividad said, including flat glass, processed glass and fenestration assemblies. It’s become increasingly obvious, however, that policy writers are unaware of the differences between processed and float glass, she said. For this reason, it’s imperative that the fenestration and glazing industries step in to provide guidance on nomenclature.
“Policy writers aren’t material experts,” she said, urging the industry to pay attention.

FGIA’s conference lasts through Thursday, with additional environmental topics yet to come.

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