Does anyone really have enough energy to follow all the energy discussions floating around the blogs and magazines? If you missed it, USGNN.com™ ran a story on April 16 announcing that the City of San Francisco is about to require energy audits for buildings larger than 10,000 square feet. That’ll wake up some owners to the fact that their buildings can do better. This might be good for the glazing industry since many facades will require upgrades.
Along these same lines, the March issue of USGlass had an article by Debra Levy titled “How the New LEED Will Affect Contract Glaziers.” Here are my thoughts about what might happen:
1. Manufacturers are asked to verify the U-value of the wall during design development, which will mean marrying up with glass manufacturers AND framing systems much earlier than current practice. Heck, the whole paradigm of design, detail, bid, construct, commission, operate might all have to be changed. NFRC could be one avenue to do this; hopefully there are others.
2. Looking harder at how glazing interacts with various sunshading devices (films, frits on glass vs. external sunshades) or wall insulation at spandrel/non-transparent glazing, and their impact on energy consumption will need to be determined.
3. Window systems eventually might be rated by an industry standard for air and water penetration. Some would argue they are now, since the ASTM testing verifies their performance. But someone is going to want that on a label. When doing condo work, the air/water performance is critical, especially for doors and windows. This criteria might be given more consideration going forward.
4. The code officials and architects will look to the manufacturers for a “whole warranty.” This will be tough to put on the manufacturers – who can design the details – but the glazing subs have to install them correctly. The associated warranties should be with the installation, not the manufacturers. Are the glaziers going to be ready to do that? You know the GCs aren’t going to accept it – they’ll want the subs to give the warranty. And the subs will look for the manufacturers to take it, who won’t, at least not at present.
5. The only way I see the manufacturers taking on that liability is to have representatives onsite observing (or inspecting? – legally, there’s a difference) a given installation. Or are the manufacturers going to require “certified” installers? That’s still going to beg the question, but what if it’s not installed right, certified or not? It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
6. On-site testing to check whole-wall assemblies may be coming, part of which will be air infiltration, hence the requirements above become critical. But instead of just testing the windows, the brick wall adjacent to the window might be checked. Heck, the whole building might be checked, which is where the Energy Star program for residences is headed. Think about that: the air exhausts over your stove, in the laundry room, in the bathrooms may require a mechanical dampener to open only when in use, and forcibly remain shut when not. I’d like to see how they isolate where the “extra” leaks are coming from, and which sub gets to correct what when that occurs. Now apply that same mentality to commercial buildings, there’s no telling where it ends.