The Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference has come and gone, with some good ground covered. A high point was when Guardian’s Scott Thomsen gave a strong call to action for our industry in his presentation the “Battle for the Wall.” The key takeaway was if we don’t fight for the role of glass in energy-efficient construction (thermal performance and daylighting), then ASHRAE will force us to the sidelines. Do you want to go to work for the stud wall, stucco and masonry contractors, because ASHRAE’s current emphasis is to greatly downsize the percentage of glass in exterior walls?
We as a glazing industry should be showing architects there are many glazing products that WILL increase thermal performance. Architects will help us win this war, but only if we get smarter about educating them on the newest, most innovative glass and framing products now available.
We should also be assertive with noting the other construction types have as many problems, as well, that are now coming to light in this energy-conscious age. As ATI’s John Runkle noted in his presentation on building commissioning, these are things the glazing industry has dealt with for years.
Notably, when the surrounding wall systems – cavity walls behind masonry or panels, precast panels, or whatever construction – have to start meeting the same water and air penetration requirements as windows and curtainwall presently do on a regular basis, then that bodes well for the exterior skin, as a whole.
But there are some down-sides, too. For example, testing the weatherproofing/air barrier to the AAMA and ASTM standards for water penetration aren’t realistic since it never sees that amount of rain in the finished condition if a brick or panel wall is placed over it. Air test it, yes. But a full-blown, 5-gallon/hour/square-foot water test ON THAT SURFACE isn’t real-world. Some of this is still in the developmental stage, but I expect it will catch on in one form or another.
Does commissioning make sense for a total glass curtainwall? Probably not with the current regimen of pre-construction and in-field testing required in curtainwall and window specifications. There are some that would argue the call for increased testing is an effort by the labs to create more work for themselves. Yes, I can see that, but what good is it having an air- and water-tight window or curtainwall if the wall around it doesn’t perform equally as well?
Another high point at BEC was the presentation on Chinese tariffs. Some of the USGNN.com newsfeed had comments from the Chinese manufacturers’ side of the fence that felt the presentation didn’t accurately present both sides of the argument. That wasn’t likely to occur given the fact the person making the presentation was the plaintiff’s attorney. When’s the last time a lawyer led a fair, objective and balanced viewpoint on something his clients were paying him to have just the opposite opinion on in order to properly argue their case? But, the tariff issue is going to be in the news quite a bit going forward.
One last note: Having turned the odometer over on my age this year, my brother bought me opening day tickets in Philly next Friday. And, my no. 1 son bought us Final Four tickets. Only one drawback to the venue: basketball was not meant to be played in a football arena, unless they put the court in the end zone. When watching the game, the Philly Phanatic sitting down the right field line in the KU garb, or in the corner of the end zone in Atlanta with the biggest pair of binoculars known to man will be yours truly. This is one thing I’ll be able to cross off the ol’ bucket list. As I review this blog post one last time Monday morning, I hope Wichita can shock the world.
Here’s hoping the Easter season, with the accompanying onset of spring weather, brings renewal of faith, hope and charity to you and yours.