How Product Certification and Building Codes Relate

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by Sara Krompholz

Why the Product Certification Program is Critical and Meets Regulatory Demands

It’s a milestone year for the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) in more ways than one. It’s our 45th anniversary as a trade association and the 25th anniversary of our VSI Product Certification Program.

And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this silver anniversary than with a toast to the newly upgraded ISO/IEC 17065 accredited VSI Product Certification Program formally relaunched late last year. It’s a milestone moment for a product certification program focused on building code compliance, working in concert with VSI’s code development efforts.

A lot of our VSI members conduct regulatory work making sure their products meet regulatory compliance. Building codes are a form of regulation. They are developed on a model level in the U.S. We want to use our Product Certification Program for both, developing simulations for both. Our Product Certification Program is now a tool for meeting regulations. Since 2020, we have worked on updating the program to be 17065-accredited for 3rd party verification.

A Product Compliance Tool

The VSI Product Certification Program speaks to how products perform and meet regulations. VSI has worked hard to gain recognition for the program as a product compliance tool. The 17065 recognition is an accreditation that an independent certification body holds through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the International Accreditation Service (IAS). Intertek, a VSI strategic partner, holds this certification and can, therefore, third-party certify products through the VSI-sponsored program.

There’s an ANSI document that shows how an independent body operates. It’s a standard that Intertek has and needs to meet for VSI to operate this program legally. The VSI Product Certification Program has never offered this level of certification before – until now. Having this accreditation built into the foundation of the program now brings us more credibility and offerings to our program.

They include:

  • Product Certification Listing (PCL), which recognizes all vinyl siding, insulated vinyl siding and polypropylene products as certified and compliant with ASTM and other related testing standards.
  • Product Evaluation Report (PER), which demonstrates product compliance with applicable code requirements for the benefit of all stakeholders involved with product approval (e.g., architects, code officials and contractors). The PCL and PER are accessible on both the VSI website and the Intertek online directory.

Canada’s Next

VSI’s Product Certification Oversight Committee is also working with Intertek to expand its program scope to offer Canadian certification within the next one to two years.

About 10 years ago, the industry proposed changes to the Canadian code to have updated product ASTM standards recognized, as the Canadian standards were very outdated (since 1995). VSI’s Code Development Work Group took the standards and proposed them into the Canadian code, and they were accepted two years ago. It’s a process that takes five years or more, so we could not be in a position to offer this certification in the near future if we hadn’t started the changes to the Canadian Code process.

Transcending Code Compliance = Superior Performance in the Field

The VSI Product Certification Program has been in existence since 1998. Thanks to its thorough and continuously improving processes over the years, vinyl siding products have had very few performance issues in the field and have become very mainstream.

We want regulators to understand that VSI starts by establishing standards within the standards. A key example is our wind standard. The building code has wind requirements. We meet the requirement by exceeding the highest wind coastal standards (like Miami-Dade) to ensure greater success in all high-wind areas.

The VSI Product Certification Program demonstrates how vinyl siding products comply with wind requirements. In addition to the wind standard, key performance characteristics – including results from heat tests, impact tests and flame spread fire testing – are all considered with the product certification program.

We’ve really embraced how to evaluate things over the last 20 years, which has led to successful product developments. And because we continue to be proactive with our processes, our products continue to meet and exceed code requirements. Our VSI members’ products are even recognized as the best regarding moisture performance, which the code recognizes.

The VSI Product Certification Program meets the regulations of the International Residential Council (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC) (which covers all building codes in the U.S.) and continues moving in a direction to achieve ultimate compliance with its work on the National Building Code of Canada.

In this anniversary year, VSI is proud to promote this unique selling point for our member manufacturers and their sales teams to the market with these simple questions: Are other cladding manufacturers aligning their product certification programs with the developing building code? Wouldn’t you rather have the advantages of quality performance and nth-degree code compliance?