Blog post

Many of today’s creative business designs include custom-built facades and unitized curtain walls. Due to the increasing complexity of these custom facades, contractors need to ensure their building products meet exact specification and industry standards. Not only do contractors need to follow best practices during setting, glazing, and installation, they must also review glass specs to ensure the materials being used do not deviate from industry standards or and special requirements or requests made by the architect.

Specifications include glass characteristics, optical and thermal properties, and the inclusion of coatings in an insulated glass unit. Due to increasingly custom, and complex, specs for modern building designs, it has become the responsibility of all members of the supply chain, from raw materials supplier to architect, to ensure the materials used for each design comply with current industry standards.

Preventing Specification Issues

Glass specifications have hundreds of potential variables, increasing the risk of overlooking details during any point in the building process. Should oversight in the specification occur anywhere along the supply chain, the result could lead to appearance or performance issues.

To achieve successful project completion on time and within budget, it is crucial all specifications comply with current industry standards. At each point within the supply chain, a self check should be completed based on the following questions:

  • Have critical project specs been sufficiently highlighted and properly addressed?
  • Are the most current industry language and standards reflected in generic specifications?
  • Does the glazing product supplier still manufacture the product written into the specification?
  • Are related ASTM standards met, or exceeded, by the specified glass product?
  • Are there processes currently in place to ensure any spec changes are properly communicated? What is that process?

Inaccuracies can quickly be identified by checking for the following:

  • Specs that have been copied/pasted: While project information may be similar, copying specs from one project to another can result in referencing outdated documents or incorrect products. Reviewing language for each project helps ensure glass specs and building codes are up to date and project specific.
  • Outdated standard and test method references: Utilizing standards and test methods that are outdated can result in installations that aren’t up to code and additional project costs. Customers may receive products that don’t meet current standards, or products that are inferior to what was expected. Stay up-to-date on industry performance standards and double check that the most current standards are used for product specs.
  • Incorrect products: When custom products are requested, it is crucial specifications are reviewed to ensure the product and treatments are current and relevant to each specific manufacturer.
  • Other areas to check:
    • Ensure Master Format numbers are current.
    • Verify referenced companies and suppliers are currently in business.
    • Ensure requirements are consistent across all spec documents.
    • Double check performance requirements for each product to check for accuracy.
    • Check provided product information to ensure the product details are sufficiently specific.

Even though a project may appear to be a “standard” job, checking to be sure all products specs are met will confirm there has been no deviation from critical performance requirements. Communicating with project partners from all stages of the project can provide additional insight to project expectations or product characteristics.


There are several publications developed by major trade organizations and made available for reference by glazing contractors. These resources make it possible for the contractors to ensure they are following best practices and most recent industry standards.

  • Glass Association of North America (GANA) produces the GANA Glazing Manual, which is a comprehensive set of recommendations and guidelines for glazing applications and methods. The information has been heavily vetted and approved by committees that represent members from across that industry including glass suppliers, fabricators, and glazing contractors.
  • The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) has created the North American Glazing Guidelines for Sealed Insulating Glass Units for Commercial and Residential Use. The set of advisory guidelines covers all aspects of IGUs.
  • American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) develops and updates the standards that are referenced in many national and state building codes. This association, which represents manufacturers for both the residential and commercial sectors and participates in annual International Code Council Code Adoptions.
  • The private sector and voluntary standardization system is coordinated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI provides a neutral forum for the development of standards and policies. They also serve as the watchdog for conformity assessment programs and standards development. The ANSI Z97.1 is a standard that provides specifications for safety glazing compliance.
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) develops and delivers consensus standards. They provide recommendations and specifications for a broad range of industries.
  • Window, door and skylight energy performance standards have been established by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).

The success of any project is highly dependent upon compliance with industry standards and adherence to exact specifications. If you are ready to begin your next building project, contact Modern Glass to learn more about the products that we can provide.

This article is based upon information provided by Vitro Architectural Glass. You can view the original article here.

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