Experts Bring Fresh Thinking to Energy Sessions
by Helen Sanders and Mark Silverberg
Having just returned from the Glass Association of North
America’s (GANA) fall conference, which included the Energy Division’s
second “energy day,” we are energized by the strategic work that is going
on within the glass and glazing industry. If you haven’t attended one
of the division’s energy days then you are missing out on some very timely
presentations on energy-related issues and a high-level dialogue with
influential thought leaders on the crucial and complex issues our industry
The Good Fight
The first energy day back in February focused on the current “battle
for the wall” and the downward pressure on window-to-wall ratio (WWR)
that is being applied from the energy codes. The historically narrow focus
on energy relative to building performance has led to a concomitantly
narrow focus on WWR as the knob to turn for improving building energy
performance. In the Energy Division we have been discussing strategies
for changing this focus by broadening the dialogue to include the human
benefits of windows, to educate more broadly on the availability of high-performance
façade technologies and to engage other channel participants we often
think of as outside our industry, such as daylighting designers, researchers,
etc. After all, we build buildings for people, not for energy performance,
so we should design for people first, and then figure out how to make
that design as energy efficient as possible.
To help re-frame the WWR debate, our first energy day panel of speakers
reviewed the energy modeling work that is supporting the reduction in
window area currently proposed in ASHRAE 189.1, new high-performance net
zero façade systems, and the human factor aspects of building design.
Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, now at Cannon Design, and an expert on the human
benefits of daylighting and views, gave a compelling data-based presentation
on the human impacts of daylight and view.
With the momentum gained from this discussion, the Energy
Division, through its building standards subcommittee, has garnered significant
and broad opposition for the reduction in WWR in a proposed addendum to
ASHRAE 189.1. In addition to many fenestration companies that submitted
individual comments, we also co-opted support from the daylighting design,
research and lighting controls communities. With more than 70 negative
comments, this is an unprecedented result.
Our most recent Energy Day in Charlotte, N.C., focused on high- performance
buildings, broader macro trends and how they relate to the fenestration
industry. Mic Patterson, from Enclos, gave a great overview of what is
needed in terms of glass and glazing product development and how to overcome
some of the barriers to adoption of new products and methods. Amy Aussieker
of Envision Charlotte gave a stimulating presentation on what the city
of Charlotte is doing to create the most sustainable urban core in the
U.S. The work they are doing to monitor building energy performance and
control water and waste will likely be a blue-print for other municipalities
going forward. Fenestration consultant Chris Mathis gave a thought-provoking
discussion on why buildings matter and the changing role of the glass
and window industry.
We also had a session on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Environmental
Product Declarations (EPD) and the development of use-phase energy modeling
approach for the window product category rules (PCR). If you don’t know
what this is all about, you need to. When the U.S. Green Building Council
launches LEED v4 this month architects are going to start calling you
and asking if you have an EPD for your product or if you know its manufacturing
The feedback we have received so far from both days has been uniformly
positive, and many attendees have commented that the sessions were the
highest level presentations on such complex matters that they had heard.
We are currently planning our third energy day to be held during the GANA
Annual Conference, in February, 2014. The subject will be “People friendly
or energy efficient buildings: Do we have to choose?” If Germany can have
a building code that says every worker needs to be within 15 feet of a
window, and still have very energy-efficient buildings, then why can’t
we? If we had “view” as a fundamental design constraint, what would our
buildings look like? Stay tuned for more details.
There’s a lot more work we’re doing at the division level,
on subjects ranging from legislative advocacy to educational material
development. There’s also a group working on identifying the changes relating
to fenestration in LEED v4 and a LEED study group for those wanting to
become a LEED Green Associate.
As we sign off, we recall one of Chris Mathis’ comments:
“we wait for disaster and then we react by changing laws and codes, but
that there are consequences to waiting.” Let’s not wait.
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