A Four-Front War
The Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope
Contractor’s Conference in March was a sobering experience for anyone
in the architectural glass industry. It appears we are fighting a four-front
war against energy legislation and regulation, the economy, litigation
“There are opportunities out there,” said one enthusiastic speaker. “There
IS a lot of business for contract glaziers,” he declared, “for businesses
that want to work in Brazil. The economy is growing and the Olympics are
coming,” he added.?“It’s not all doom and gloom.”
Indeed. With apologies to Thomas Friedman, the world may be flat but,
with a few notable exceptions, the contract glazing industry remains decidedly
We will have extensive coverage in USGlass magazine in the coming months,
but let me just give you the highlights (except in this case, the highlights
are more like lowlights). Here are some other themes from the conference:
1. Under Attack: The glass industry is under attack from a whole
variety of separate arenas: energy reduction advocates, government and
regulatory agencies, code organizations and green advocates. Each presents
separate challenges to the industry but all are communicating a “glass
is an energy-hog” message that’s resonating. We, as an industry, have
to fix this.
2. New Products: The day of the highly energy-efficient alternative
glass product has arrived. Presentations about the various types of new
dynamic glazing dominated the discussions at the conference. “Doesn’t
matter whether you like it or not, this is the future,” said one attendee.
3. The Economy: All I will say is that three separate speakers,
each using different data, murmured a variation of the following sentence.
“We will not return to 2007 levels of non-residential building activity
4. The Bs—Banking, Bonding and Big Buildings: Banks and bonding
companies have tightened their criteria for access to capital and bonds.
It really says a lot about our society when you see 70- and 80-year-old
companies with stellar financial performance in every year but 2009 being
And big buildings, what have become of them? Where have all the big ones
gone??Gone to Brazil everyone.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think our biggest challenges are
as an industry. If you were at the BEC, you’d know you have a lot to choose
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