Ontario Strengthens Requirements for Balcony Glass
June 22, 2012

by Erica Terrini, eterrini@glass.com

Ontario glaziers will be required to use heat-strengthened laminated glass when close to the edge of a balcony beginning July 1, 2012, following revisions to the province's building code that were made in order to reduce instances of balcony glass breakage in newly constructed buildings, according to an announcement by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The use the heat-strengthened laminated glass or heat-soaked tempered glass if balcony guards are inset from the edge of the balcony also will be required under the new regulations. The revisions came on the same day as another incident of falling glass occurred on the 10th floor of the Mondrian condo tower at 318 Laurier Ave. in Ottawa.

"[The regulations] are intended as an interim solution to ensure public safety while the Canadian Standards Association develops a national technical standard for glass panels in balcony guards," writes the Ministry in its announcement.

The current building code revisions were established by the Expert Advisory Panel on Glass Panels in Balcony Guards, which was made up of 25 members including engineering consultants, building code consultants, developers, contractors, professional designers, municipal building inspectors, insurance providers and members of codes and standards-writing bodies. The panel was created after the City of Toronto and the Residential Construction Council of Ontario called on the Ministry to "address the falling balcony glass panel problem" after a spate of incidents that occurred last year and have continued this year.

The revisions apply to new construction projects and do not affect modifications of existing buildings, according to the Ministry.

The panel references a report, "Balcony Glass and Guard Matters," released on January 24 by GRG Building Consultants, which suggests that the cause of the glass failure was related to "nickel sulphide (NiS) inclusions in the glass and glass-to-metal proximity. According to the panel's report, Mark Brook, P.E., of BVDA Façade Engineering LLC, was one of those involved in the investigation.

"His finding was that the primary cause of the glass failures was NiS inclusions," writes the panel. "He also identified windloads on guards and installation defects as secondary risk factors."

Mike D'Agnillo, vice president of Toro Aluminum Railings Inc., also participated in the investigation, and he attributed the breakage to possible deficiencies in railing installations; the suggestion that "balcony glass is not designed with glass breakage in mind;" impact-related incidences; and NiS impurities in the glass.

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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