Low sightline units – a response to the GGF

Colin Torley, sales and operations director at the Saveheat Group, responds to the recent statement, issued by Steve Rice, GGF director of technical affairs.

It is good that the GGF have come out and responded to my letter regarding the use of low sightline IGUs that basically do not comply with the Construction Product Regulations (CPR) and therefore make it illegal to manufacture and sell these units.

For me the opening statement just about says it all: “The GGF has addressed the issue from a technical and GGF policy perspective.”

So that’s it then? We have addressed it so it can go back in its box. I hope that isn’t the case, and that this is only the start of their drive to stop this practice happening.

There is the perception that this is only happening in Scotland, but this is a nationwide problem. Only this week I was in a window manufacturing company in Bradford that buys these ‘illegal’ units from a company in Wales.

What do we need to do going forward?

I accept that the GGF is not the industry police, but it is our trade body and therefore our authority on glass and glazing matters. I would like to see the GGF take a harder stance against companies that are manufacturing these units, and probably the best place to start would be with some of its member companies that are openly manufacturing and selling these units. They talk about expulsion, well let’s see it happen.

I don’t know how comfortable the suppliers of these 3mm warm edge spacer bars are as they surely know what they are being used for. Maybe the starting point is for the suppliers of these spacer bars to withdraw this product and explain why. What a message that would send out to the market.

I’m sure that the counter argument would be that companies will go back to ‘bastardising’ standard spacer bars, but two wrongs don’t make a right. The withdrawal of this spacer bar would send a massive message to the industry, and to specifiers, that the only way for companies to supply these units would be by chopping parts up, and by doing so the outcome is likely to be massive unit failures.

If the specifiers and the purchasers of these units are being faced with the cost of putting these right, how easy is that message to put across.

We then have to take action against the companies that continue to flout the law, which surely must reduce if the most common part isn’t readily available.

The statement mentions that “reduced sightline units is an area that is simply not a case of black or white”. Sorry guys but it is. The low sightline units that do not comply with the Construction Product Regulations are illegal so if you manufacture and supply these then you are breaking the law. How much more black or white can this be?

It mentions “highlight to other parties that unless they uphold the same standards then inevitably this will isolate our members and make them vulnerable”. Welcome to our world. We are being penalised and losing work in the market because we will not supply these units.

I downloaded the GGF’s ‘Insulating Glass Units (IGUs) conforming to the Construction Products Regulations (CPR)’ and read it five times. It is filled with far too much technical jargon and is very difficult to read and understand, and this needs to be simplified so that the message gets across.

If people don’t understand it, how are they going to follow it? Make it simple and make the consequences for not following the guidelines as equally simple.

I started off by saying that it is great that the GGF is taking this seriously and I really hope it means it.