• Today’s post picks up where the one from last week left off, with more of the high points covered at the GANA Fall Conference held in Toronto September 23-25.

    Handrails, obviously, are still getting a lot of attention. Being in Toronto, where so much of the news about guardrails is emanating, it seemed only natural to hear how the Canadians are addressing the issue. CSA’s Dwayne Torry, talked about the A500 standard, which is being developed with cross-representation of regulators, suppliers, architects and users (not sure what that means: installers? building owners?). They’re looking to develop a standard to serve as “a consistent baseline for design.” The plan now is for spring 2015 publication. Like the AAMA/WDMA/CSA standards for doors and windows, it might be beneficial for those of us on this side of the border to pay attention.

    Also, testing of handrails was discussed, both in the pre- and post-construction phases. Most exterior guardrails use the exterior cladding wind load, either from wind tunnel testing or by code, to determine the design load for the handrails. Further research is required to determine if that’s realistic, but no one has stepped up to do that, yet. Likewise, there is now additional attention being paid to more stringent post-installation maintenance requirements – everything from checking glass fittings to checking the connection of the guard rails to the structure, etc. If you install handrails, this is certainly worthy of consideration.

    Not a lot is being talked about the causes of the handrail glass breakage, due in large part to the on-going “who’s to blame” game being played on many projects. It’s not only nickel sulfide, but other causes, such as improper installation (e.g., grommets not installed around bolts passing through the glass, posts not installed vertical or in plane with the glass, etc.). The root causes may not be known for years.

    Associated with the handrail discussion were some of the items covered in the GANA Laminating Division meetings. There was some talk about the edges of laminated glass in handrails, and whether they should be finished, pre- or post-laminating. If the architect uses tempered glass, a finished, polished edge is often specified. But, laminated glass complicates that, as most laminators will polish the edges before laminating, and getting the lites in the laminating sandwich to match up is difficult, plus the laminating layer oozes out from between the lites. One possible alternative would be to polish the glass after lamination, but apparently that’s not easily accepted given the budget and schedule constraints of most projects.

    One thing I learned about that I didn’t know before: using a cementitious material to set laminated glass into sill shoe isn’t such a good idea. The cement-based material can damage the laminating layer. I know for the next project where this comes up, a discussion will be warranted between suppliers and glass fabricators.

    The use of laminated glass in doors, and the effects of clamping hardware and/or patch fittings is still being researched, they’re looking for a door manufacturer to lead the testing.

    One issue that’s starting to surface, and it’s really early on, so no immediate cause for alarm, is whether ceramic frit on spandrel glass is causing the glass to loose strength. There’s no data on this, yet, either. What follows is strictly my take on this, not a lot of consensus, and therefore no conclusions were reached. On one hand, some manufacturers talked about applying frits to glass before the glass was heat-strengthened, in which case they report there’s no loss of strength if the glass gets the proper treatment. But, other manufacturers may be applying the frits as a secondary operation after heat treating, and the re-heating may weaken the glass.

    What’s confusing this was two of the leading fabricators are on opposite sides of the question. One insisted that there is no evidence that ceramic frits were causing breakage due to wind loading, that ASTM E1300 still worked with no drop in performance for heat-treated, fritted glass. Another said there was. So, we’ll have to wait and see where this goes.

    A lot covered. A lot to do. Many of the industry manufacturers are well represented at GANA. We’ll look to cover some of this at BEC in the Technical Committee, especially if it rises to the level that the glazing contractors will start being asked about it going forward.

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  • Field Notes 20.03.2014 3 Comments

    Some of what makes the BEC conference worthwhile is the different perspective you get by attending.  It’s always been intriguing to see how others perceive our industry.  From school protection using glass to BIM, here’s a recap of some of what I got out of the Sunday and Monday sessions.

    Julie Schimmelpenningh’s presentation about how to make schools harder to get into with a lower-cost alternative glass to bullet-resistant glass was worth its weight in gold.  She noted that while laminated glass won’t stop bullets, it stays in the opening and prevents a shooter from gaining access into the building by shooting out door glass and reaching through to open the door.  Since these events can end within minutes of starting, anything that can slow a shooter down gains precious seconds for first responders to get to the school.  This is something to talk about with the local school district, especially in balancing staff training and building hardening in light of budget constraints.

    Jon McFarland’s BIM presentation confirmed some of what I already knew about BIM, but it was great to see that validation by someone who’s using it every day.  It’s still tough to see how the smaller glazing outfits can incorporate BIM on a regular basis, in that a current project might require BIM, but who knows about the next project?  And, many small shops don’t use it enough to see a day-to-day benefit.  BIM has to be incorporated into the everyday operation to have an impact on a company’s operation. For now, that has generally limited its use to the larger glaziers.  BIM has a huge, upfront implementation cost, much like computer aided drafting did in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.  The glaziers who are using BIM are seeing the benefits of more accurate estimating, paperless transfer of data for fabrication of parts, and adding their ability to plan jobsite execution of the project.

    Courtney Little’s self-described junior high school lesson in democracy pointed out legislative, executive and judicial decisions coming down the pike.  For example, OSHA is about to issue work rules covering silica dust protection that will drastically impact work crews’ efficiency.  After an earlier presentation about productivity, I think this hit home for a lot of us.  Glass fabricators might have to change how they protect their crews on the production floor.  But, that’s nothing compared to what the field crews might have to deal with.   Can you see an installation crew wearing haz-mat suits with respirators, along with fall protection, while handling a triple-glazed field-set IGU?  Not a pretty picture.  And, the cost to the industry, estimated to be close to $560 million – who will pay for that, or how much less work will there be to absorb that cost?

    State governments are also scrutinizing contract clauses that establish legal forums.  Some legislatures are banning such clauses, attempting to keep legal disputes for a project within the jurisdiction in which the project is located. This is as opposed to litigating disputes in an out-of-state court in cases where the general contractor’s headquarters are in that other state.  As you can well imagine, most subcontractors are located near a job site.  Since most contracts are based on the law of the jurisdiction where the project occurs, to move any legal action to a court in another state could preclude companies from seeking relief due to the extra cost incurred with having to fight in a court inconvenient to the plaintiff.  If it costs an extra $25,000 to go after $50,000 you might have coming, is that worth the cost?  So be aware of what your state legislature is doing.

    If you’re not in contact with legislators, maybe now’s the time to re-think that, as voting by itself is not generally enough.

    Gregg Shoppman’s presentation about how to maximize profit provided one of those “duh” moments when you say, “I knew that, but why didn’t I know that?”  To increase volume and expect higher profits isn’t a given.  Decreasing overhead, if it causes more work for the field crews, is counterproductive.  Bottom line:  making the field crews more productive, even by minutes a day, has the best chance of increasing profitability. Gregg outlined some good ideas to accomplish that.

    Jim Benney’s presentation about NFRC certification remains, at least for me, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.  NFRC keeps preaching that the certification is a given, but it’s not.  And, what NFRC fails to address is the cost to the manufacturers to put their products into the NFRC databases so that architects and glaziers can get certification.  So, it remains the job of those manufacturers to pass that message on to their customers, potentially along with the HUGE costs and schedule impacts to them.  By NFRC’s own admission, the percentage of manufacturers willing to participate, even now that their certification program is more than four years old, makes certification of a lot of systems impossible.  How that will change, if at all, remains to be seen.

    Finally, a personal note after being taken by surprise, humbled and honored on Monday with a GANA award.  I have stood on the shoulders of a lot of mentors (or “daddies” as Don Earnheart likes to call them) over the years. Contributing to BEC is how I’ve chosen to pay that forward.  A special thanks to Bill Swango, Charles Morgan, Steve Gernes, Kevin Robbins, Keith Lindberg, Charles Clift, Don, and Kirk Osgood, Robert Zahner, Jerry and Jeff Razwick, Devin Bowman, the current staff at TGP, Sara Neiswanger and Urmilla Sowell, and all the people I’ve worked with through all the GANA committees.

    I have only one regret:  I wish Greg Carney could have seen this.

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  • Field Notes 11.02.2014 1 Comment

    Part of the buzz last week at the GANA Annual Conference was how giddy everyone was for the recent defeat of the ASHRAE 189.1 proposal to lower window to wall ratios to 30 percent from the existing 40-percent standard.  Victory in the “Battle for the Wall” (as the outgoing Guardian president Scott Thomsen called it last year at BEC) means we get to keep a fourth of the glass, windows, and walls we all like to sell. People were saying at GANA that “25 percent of everyone’s business has just been saved.”  A big thank you, again, to the glass manufacturers for helping take the lead on this for all of us.

    The flip side, of course, is that everyone still has their guard up, trying to decipher where the next fight is coming from. Some of the talk at the GANA receptions focused on what we all can do together to change to a pro-active stance in which the industry leads more, versus reacting to what other organizations are doing. I don’t know where I heard it, maybe it was Texas:  As an industry, our position could change to: “Have to get going, we’re busy, we have things to do, and people to do them to!”  That would be a great stance for GANA to take, leading that is, and doing it politely, of course.

    Two presentations last week highlighted how fundamentally flawed the ASHRAE proposals were: one from Carnegie Mellon and one from MIT.  Since so much attention is being paid to energy within the architecture schools, you might have an excellent source already in your backyard that you can invite to AIA or your local glass association to talk about daylighting and WWRs, or to stay in touch with continuing education seminar/webinar/courses they may be offering.  Granted, the credit might not be worth anything as far as keeping professional registrations current within your firm, but isn’t that worth the cost if there’s something to be learned?

    These particular presentations included everything from computer modeling of daylighting levels within any given space to shading of framing systems.  If GANA posts them, you will see some of the shots fired across ASHRAE’s bow in saving 25 percent of our biz.

    Julie Schimmelpenningh from Eastman gave an excellent presentation about how to upgrade existing school entrances to make it harder for potential shooters to gain entry, and there’s not really a whole lot that has to be done, contrary to what you may be thinking.  The stats say that a majority of these events are over within six minutes of starting.  So delaying tactics, along with other measures, regardless the form, gains precious time for first responders to get there to protect children and teachers, thus potentially saving more lives.

    Julie has agreed to give the presentation at BEC next month. You‘ll have to come early as her presentation will be during the Technical Committee on Sunday, March 16, 3-5 p.m. It will be in conjunction with two other presentations that hopefully will draw your attention:

    • Jim Benney is going to talk about the CMA for NFRC Certification.  He made a presentation in Orlando about some of the problems in getting the spectral and diffuse data into NFRC’s database for translucent glass, frits or interlayers.  This also is related to why sloped glazing and spandrel glass hasn’t made its way into the NFRC formulas for certification.  Some funding issues with furthering development of the CMA with respect to these products have arisen, and I’ll let you think on where that may lead.  Monitoring what’s going on with NFRC is important as much of the data for framing, glass and spacers now on the market are not in the NFRC database.  If NFRC certification ever takes off, either as a code or spec requirement that IS enforced, this will affect much more than 25 percent of your business.
    • Jon McFarland at Wheaton Sprague is going to talk how his firm is helping glazing subs with their BIM modeling requirements.  This is not a “how do you do BIM?” but rather, Jon will show representative samples of BIM projects and the pickups his firm’s clients are getting from its use. Within BEC, we haven’t done anything about setting glass industry standards regarding BIM, but the follow-up conversations after his presentation could change that thinking.

    If you can’t tell, I was stoked by the whole Annual Conference experience! Except for one conclusion I came away with:  more BEC people need to attend. Everything discussed at the meeting trickles down to BEC: all the groups, (Protective Glazing Council, Tempering, Laminating, Insulating Glass, even Decorative, etc.), as well as all the developing or updating of standards, all the product designations, limitations, specifications. The BEC companies use it all:  they prepare estimates using these standards and products, they sell it to their customers with every contract they sign, and then have to be conversant enough with the standards to make the GCs and architects understand it and get “buy-ins.”  The output of these types of industry conferences, due to the diligence and interest of the people who have contributed year-in and year-out, have benefited your business to no end. It’s not right that more BEC people aren’t in the room affecting the decisions.

    In that light, there was also a discussion about rejoining the annual conference with BEC, as it had been in the past. Initially, I was not for this. But, by the end of the conference, seeing what’s getting done and not having more BEC people there, I withdraw my objections for now, if it gives a better shot for BEC representatives to participate in the GANA end.

    One last note: the awards for division contributors of the year and recognition of Carol Land’s impending retirement were in stark contrast to the tribute paid to Greg Carney. It is an understatement to say it was moving and touching. From that, one of my aspirations is to be one of his “glassholes.” It won’t be the same if he can’t lay that one on, but, it’s worth a shot.

    Other takes from last week to follow in the next post. And, please, someone remind me next year to bring duct tape to the annual meeting, and to put it to good use! Hint: you had to be there on Thursday in the Insulating Glass Division.

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