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December 22, 2015
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Do you have a glass question and need an expert opinion? As an NGA member, you have access to the industry information you need and can submit questions as needed. In the meantime, check out the Q & A below to see a recent submission.

Q. Does an insert glass unit made for domestic interior and fabricated of multiple pieces of glass require all the glass pieces composing the unit to be tempered safety glass?  
 
Additional Information:  The inserted units are not in an I.G. unit, but are inserted as it is in a door. Some of the pieces composing the insert are as small as  3’’ x 3’’, 2’’ x 24’’, 6” x 12’’, etc., depending on the design. All of those pieces are separated by extruded aluminum enclosure composing some sort of perimeter around those pieces. (see examples below)

 

 
A: If the glass is in a door it is required to be safety glazing, regardless of whether it is one piece of glass that exceeds 9 square feet in size or a collection of glass pieces that cumulatively exceed 9 sq. ft. The only exception is if any one piece is too small for a 3-inch diameter sphere to pass through.
 
The 2015 IBC has an exception to the requirement for safety glazing in doors, when the glazing in the door is "decorative".  No specific criteria is given in the IBC for what is or is not considered "decorative," but the intent of the exception is that it is apparent to the building occupant that there is glass in the opening so they do not try to go through it or put their arm through it.
 
A code official, however, may interpret the word "decorative" differently. Also, a manufacturer's legal counsel might advise them to protect the glazing with a sheet of Lexan on one or both sides, to reduce their own liability should a building occupant not realize there is glass in the opening and injure themselves trying to pass through it. Summary: if the glass is in a door and a 3" sphere can pass thru it, that piece of glass must be tempered. 

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