With COVID Out of the Way, FGIA Regains Laser Focus on InitiativesFebruary 16th, 2023 by Drew Vass, Executive Editor
The Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance’s (FGIA) annual conference took place this week in San Diego, where officials provided updates for various initiatives and collaborations. After progress slowed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most efforts have since regained their momentum, officials said, including several impacting the environment and building codes, and one that’s set to change how manufacturers certify condensation resistance.
In a vinyl forum, Ned Monroe, president and CEO of The Vinyl Institute, said a total of 20 states are moving forward with an advanced recycling program that replaces mechanical methods with dissolution. By dissolving recycled PVC materials, the process isolates and extracts chemicals, returning them to the industry’s feed stock to be turned into fresh products, Monroe said. The initiative has been labeled by the institute as “really good news” for the industry.
Meanwhile, a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may help to protect used PVC from steep regulations. After the Center for Biological Diversity declared discarded PVC a hazardous waste in 2014, on January 12, 2023, EPA tentatively denied the petition, declaring the material to be not hazardous, Monroe said. A number of other groups have weighed in since the decision, supporting the EPA’s analysis. The agency is set to make its final determination April 12, 2024, but so far things look positive for the industry, he said.
“It would have been a disaster for the industry if this had gone the other way,” Monroe suggested.
Another environmental issue that FGIA officials are working to address in Florida centers on sea turtle friendly glass—an area that the alliance has worked to influence through research.
“I think most of you are probably aware that FGIA has been engaging on this topic for over a year and a half,” said FGIA codes consultant Jennifer Hatfield.
In recent months, outreach to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission earned FGIA an opportunity to participate in a workshop, where officials gave an overview of implications associated with certain visible transmittance (VT) ratings.
“Our presentation and overall participation in this workshop was really well received,” Hatfield said. “It was great for us to be there to educate these folks.”
Last year, glass samples provided by FGIA members were evaluated by researchers, showing that turtle hatchlings were less likely to orient toward light passing through glass with certain VT levels. Reports aren’t final, but based on preliminary findings, researchers landed on a recommendation of 30% VT.
With that research in hand, FGIA officials are now seeking to engage localities currently rebuilding from hurricane damage ahead of the finalization of any new guideline. In the process, they’re engaging with localities to help educate and push back on requirements calling for 15% VT, instead encouraging them to consider the 30% supported by recent findings.
Hatfield praised FGIA members for providing products to help fuel research.
In a separate session, Jason Seals, FGIA certification services manager, alerted members to another initiative currently in need of product samples. For 10 years now, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has worked to develop a new Linear Energy Analysis For Fenestration (LEAFF) program that, among other measures, will implement a new system for establishing condensation index (CI) ratings. Currently, the program is in a pilot phase and NFRC is seeking volunteer participants. Products submitted for the pilot study will be subjected to a new LEAFF method for certification.
“The pilot program is set to take place for six to 12 months, but I’d say it’s going to be closer to 12 months,” Seals said, after which the new system is expected to simplify matters for door and window manufacturers. The program is slated to go live in 2024.
Other “big changes” coming down the pike include a restructuring of the International Code Council’s (ICC) development cycle, Hatfield said. Starting in 2024, ICC is set to deploy a process that involves two committee action hearings for each code group (A and B), allowing ICC committees to evaluate and act on comments based on an initial hearing. The idea, she said, is to add an upfront process to reduce input from public comment hearings. The new method takes effect in 2024 and will be applied to 2027 codes development.
With various industry initiatives regaining their momentum, another area of the industry that slowed amid the pandemic includes innovation among door and window manufacturers, suggested [DWM] blogger Ray Garries, president of Global Fenestration Advisors.
“For the past few years, we’ve been focused on a lot of things instead of innovation,” Garries said, ahead of a roundtable discussion. In other industries. “There are a tremendous number of breakthroughs occurring now in materials and systems,” he said, adding, “We need to recommit.”
In doing so, companies should key in on the benefits that innovations might produce for their customers, said Scott Corley, director of advanced engineering for ODL Inc. “It’s always important to remember that benefit is in the eye of the consumer, not us,” Corley told attendees.
From the perspective of customers and end-users, any new innovation should pass a “who cares” test, he said. One way to ensure this includes gathering feedback from customers in order to key in on specific problems, he said. But to reach meaningful developments, you have to be willing to fail in the process, said Walter Simon, vice president of strategic development for Halio Inc. Before reaching the latest iterations of electrochromic glass, the industry went through a first-generation of products that worked as advertised, but caused undesirable effects, Simon said. After innovating its way through those issues, Simon’s company now offers a product that not only fixes those problems, but also takes things several steps further by integrating with home automation and HVAC systems. Those innovations are among the developments that are now bringing Halio’s glass to the residential market, via a new deal with Marvin.
Innovation was a prevailing theme at this year’s conference, starting with a rallying cry from Dan Parrish, Pella’s engineering manager and chairperson for the FGIA board of directors. “Who in this room views themself as creative?” Parrish asked attendees in the event’s opening session. “Every person in this room should have their hand up,” he declared, after an underwhelming show of hands.
Next up for FGIA is its Summer Conference, June 12-15, at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall, in Vancouver, B.C., followed by a Fall Conference in Denver.
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