Volume 9, Issue 3                                      May/June  2005

Window Film v. Windstorms
PGC Spring Meeting Looks at Hurricane Protection
by Brigid O'Leary

Window film received many accolades when members of the Protective Glazing Council (PGC) revisited Florida’s very active hurricane season 2004 at its spring meeting in March. The conclave, held March 16-17, which took place at the Embassy Suites Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.

Starting the seminar series was Mike Luttkus, dealer education trainer for PGT Industries. He presented pictures and findings of a damage survey his company did in the aftermath of hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne. 
“Some people compare Charley to a large tornado and I feel that’s fairly accurate,” Luttkus said, noting that roof tiles proved to be the source of most damage.

He added that people seemed to get the message that they need to protect themselves.

“From my experience, the public awareness of what you have to do to protect your home is more than I’ve ever seen, even on island countries that may not have building codes in place. Homeowners, homeowner associations [and] condo associations are all concerned about what will happen next time. A lot of these people are part-time residents and not here during hurricane season,” he said, hitting on one of three topics that would come up with every hurricane protection talk over the two-day meeting.

Passive Protection
Following Luttkus, was Julie Schimmelpenningh of Solutia, who spoke on the topic of protective glazing in new construction. 

Schimmelpenningh sees the market for protective glazing as a strong one right now.

“The U.S. hurricane market is from the tip of Texas to the cape of Massachusetts. Not everyone has protection,” she said.

After a short break, Nick Routh of Bekaert Specialty Films gave a quick review of how applied window film can help protect against storm damage, showing clips of different performance tests on security film—both daylight applied and wet glazed—attached to both annealed and tempered glass. While window film won’t always prevent glass from breaking, and thus does not meet many code requirements, it can prevent further damage of wind and rain entering a building and the ensuing collapse of the building with fluctuating pressure.

“Nothing happens until the glass breaks. Granted, it doesn’t meet standards, but I’d rather have that than tempered glass all over the floor,” he said. “Shutters and storm materials are great, but a lot of people can’t put them up—or won’t put them up, or put them up too late, or, as has been mentioned before, are in the middle of Iowa.”

Routh noted that the daylight-applied film performed much better than expected, a reaction not uncommon among the speakers at the session, though the consensus was that film with attachments are still preferable.

Survey Says
Eric Cote and Dr. Bob Bailey of the Protecting People First Foundation (PPFF) were the last to speak before lunch.

They discussed the preliminary results of the study “Finding the Breaking Point,” part of Project Safe Windows, which looked at the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season. As the study found, any protection is better than none at all, but the optimum results can only be achieved if protective materials are attached and deployed properly.

Shutters, they explained, work very well if they are in place correctly. They reiterated Routh’s comment that older members of the community may have difficulty installing them. Mechanical, automatic shutters can also be problematic if a building loses power and there is no manual override to roll up the shutters, creating sauna-like conditions inside buildings and perpetuating mold growth.

Laminated glass worked, as did screens—both rigid and flexible—again with the caveat that they had to be employed correctly. Security window film, they said, worked when and where applied, but the PPFF team found it difficult to survey because examples of it in use were limited, especially examples that received impact.

Wednesday afternoon wrapped with a panel discussion moderated by Joseph Smith of Applied Research Associates. Comprising Valerie Block of DuPont; code consultant Charlie Everly; Nanette Lockwood with Solutia; and Doug Hall of Applied Research Associates. Each member of the panel gave a short presentation on selected topics before opening the floor to questions from the audience and general discussion. Topics from the question-and-answer session ranged from using multiple technologies to secure a building, to designing for hurricanes and blast mitigation, to having someone who wasn’t involved in the planning process writing the specs.

Tools of the Trade
Block started the program on St. Patrick’s Day by returning to speak about how ASTM E 1300-04 can be used to determine the load resistance of glass in buildings and how it can’t.

“It’s a tool you can use to come to some decisions on the proper thickness to use on some types of glass,” she said.

Block explained the changes the standard has undergone in recent years, as well as how those changes may effect its use, including the change in load duration from 60 seconds to three seconds in the newest version.

Following Block, Peter Vickery with Applied Research Associates spoke on the topic of hurricane loss reduction through window protection (also the title of his presentation).

“I’m here to talk not about code compliance but non-code compliance [materials] that will help, such as window film and tempered glass,” he said. He explained the software used to simulate hurricane winds on different structures, as well as the data used. He showed just a few examples of a windstorm’s animated effects on a poorly built house. 

Vickery also showed video demonstrations of some real-world testing in which shingles (weighing between .9 pound to 5.4 pounds), clay roof tiles and 2-by-4s were launched at windows at various speeds and pressures. The windows were either annealed or tempered, some with daylight applied film, others without any protection. 

“We were very surprised with the pressures we got to with window film,” Vickery said, noting that the use of window film held the glass while being hit at higher rates of impact than expected without separating from the frame. “Remember, these are daylight applications. Film will do a lot better with attachments. You also get a lot of protection out of tempered glass.”

Vickery said his preliminary conclusions are that the current pressure cycling standards are “too severe,” that window film “provides effective means of eliminating damage associated with window breakage for most small missiles and is more effective if attached.” He also concluded that more testing is needed for such protective features as window film.

The PGC spring meeting also covered blast mitigation. Darrell Barker of ABS Consulting, discussed 
the topic and how and when to introduce aspects of blast mitigation into the building equation. Wrapping up the conference was Marc Percher with Hinman Consulting Engineers, the company conducting the study of emergency ingress/egress through fenestration with protective glazing. Providing an update of the presentation made by Holly Stone at the fall meeting last September, Percher said they have conducted additional testing, developed a preliminary rating system for windows and expects to publish a report in the near future.

The next PGC meeting is scheduled for November 9-10 in Washington, D.C. Check the PGC website (www.protectiveglazing.org) for more information as it becomes available.

Brigid O’Leary is the editor of Window Film magazine.

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