Windows are a key component of every home, not just for light, fresh air and aesthetics, but also as an essential element of the building envelope’s performance. The changes to part L1 of the Building Regulations in 2002 have expanded the market for high performance windows in the UK. Canadians, due to their rigorous climate, have been developing and installing these windows in their homes for the past 20 years.

Canada’s industry began pursuing export markets more vigorously in the early 1990s. Over the past decade, total window exports have increased six-fold, with the main destinations being the US and Japan. The UK is currently Canada’s fourth largest window market, the most popular styles being wood frames clad in aluminum or vinyl.

From a Canadian perspective, the levels of new construction and replacement activity in the UK are strong and sustained. The demand for high-performance windows has increased in response to new energy efficiency requirements. In addition, currency exchange rates are favourable and the business culture is similar.

Another factor for some is the Super E Program, of which high-performance windows are a key component.

The Canadian government commissioned a study in 2001 to compare the Canadian window standard, Canadian Standards Association A440, with the relevant UK standards, BS 6375 and BS 5368. It found that for the three key performance characteristics – airtightness, watertightness and wind resistance – the lowest Canadian performance level meets or exceeds the minimum UK requirements, while the highest Canadian level goes considerably beyond the highest UK level.

As a result of this study, the Canadian government is currently funding the joint testing of a sample of Canadian windows by the British Board of Agrément and the Canadian Construction Materials Centre to determine whether the certification of windows meeting the CSA standard could be fast-tracked.