• As I mentioned last week, a lot of ground was covered during the GANA Fall Conference. This is Part 2 in a series whose final length I know not. If you’ll bear with me, I’ll try to wrap up the Laminated Division meeting this week. If time and space permits, I’ll get into the Energy Division.

    To pick up where we left off in Part 1, the laminated folks are also concerned with the long-term exposure of the edge of the laminated glass lite in most typical handrail applications. Of special note: What effect does grout in exposed exterior handrail base shoes do to laminated glass? There’s no recently completed or in-process testing that indicates whether or not the grout and interlayer will play nice with each other. Anybody out there developing a “dry” system with extruded shoes will be ahead of the curve.

    From a development standpoint, it appears there’s also interest in making laminated glass with lites that aren’t necessarily the same thickness. This raises a number of questions. What happens to glass strength if a ¼-inch and 3/8-inch lite are laminated together? Is it twice as strong, or 2.5 times as strong? When different thicknesses are laminated, is there an impact to energy or sound transmittance and the glass’ overall performance?

    And, that’s just the starting point. Let’s go beyond different thicknesses of glass. What happens when you combine glass in laminations that aren’t all glass? For instance, what happens when you laminate glass to metal panels or composites? This naturally leads into a discussion about strength and ASTM E1300. How does laminated glass perform in combination with other products? With all the attention that putting fabric, patterns or pre-printed screens into laminated glass is getting, no one knows how to account for the overall strength of the laminated glass after it’s been fabricated with these “ingredients.”

    In the Energy Division, Tom Culp reported that Climate Zone Borders are being fine-tuned to reflect more recent historical climatological data. The climate zones impact everything about energy performance for a building, not just the glass and glazing. While U-values are trending down between 8 and 14 percent, SHGCs are remaining steady (with some minor shifts) in upcoming code updates. Tom categorized these changes as “fair and reasonable.”

    Learning to identify how products work in combination with each other to achieve the desired thermal performance is going to be a criteria of window and frame selection going forward. For example, when you pick a low-E glass, the zone the project is in may dictate whether or not the glass has to have argon in it, whether the frame has to be higher- or lower-performing, or whether a warm-edge spacer is required, etc., before finalizing a total product selection. Think of it in terms of a “cafeteria plan.” If you pick Option 1 for glass, then you have to do one or several other options, be it A, B, or C. But, if you pick Option 2 for glass and the location is in a different zone, then you may have to select from an entirely new set of options.

    On a separate note, the NFRC’s recent changes haven’t cleared up where that program is going. They’ve made some fundamental software changes that allow faster responses from the CMA program, but their “reaching out to partner with the industry” claim hasn’t been clarified yet. There was some talk of AAMA and NFRC merging their certification efforts. That remains to be seen.

    Also, if you’re not familiar with the LCA/PCR/ EPD/HPD acronyms, you might want to be. The analogy that they are “food labels” for building materials isn’t so much about what’s actually in the product, as it is about how much energy goes into using them in the building, and what their carbon footprint is over the course of the product’s life cycle. For example, they take into account the energy that goes into refining raw materials and getting raw material (stock lengths, for example in aluminum, or glass sheets prior to fabrication) delivered to fabricators, the energy it takes for manufacturers to make materials suitable for installation, the long-term operation or energy cost of the glazing or wall components after installation, and the cost to recycle them (if any). The terms, “cradle to gate” (from the raw material to the fabricator) and “cradle to grave,” (includes cradle to gate and through operation and recycling) are going to become more prominent.

    Tracy Rogers of Quanex reported on a unique glazing approach for retrofit of an existing, monolithic glazed curtainwall that didn’t require any teardown or replacement of the existing window system, nor did it require a relocation of existing tenants. They employed a Quanex spacer applied to the cleaned interior surface of the existing glass, which remained in the existing frame. They then mounted an IGU on the back of that spacer into a Berkowitz designed interior glazing stop system applied inboard of the IGU, fastened to the existing window system. The completed installation resulted in a triple-glazed window, which obviously increased the energy and thermal performance of the glass. The net decrease resulted in 35 to 40 percent energy costs of what they had previously been, at 54 percent of the cost of what a tear out and replace budget might have been. While the frame performance wasn’t altered, some gain in thermal and energy performance was better than none. It was classic out-of-the-box thinking, which hopefully we’ll see more of as time goes on.

    Enough for now … next week, I’ll recap the Flat Glass and Insulating Division. Between this week and last, we’ve only made it through about half of my notes. Please holler if you have any questions about any of the topics I recapped. There are certainly people in GANA a lot smarter than me on the details of these updates (and on any and all other matters) that you can be directed to for answers.

    And, in the meantime, Blue Flu Pennant Fever has taken over Kansas City again, everyone’s going crazy and absolutely going gaga about the run the Royals are on again this year.   All I can say about Game 6 last Friday night is (to use a phrase we haven’t heard of a lot of this year): “that what speed do.” Hey, Paul Bieber, challenge accepted! Go Royals, TAKE THE CROWN!!! (Full disclosure: You’re reading this on Thursday; this is being written before Game 1 on Tuesday.)

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  • Here it is October, and it’s tough to know where the year has gone. Events in the industry appear to fly by, also. Several in recent days are worth noting.

    Wired glass: The 600-student junior/senior high school I attended had two fire stairs with wired glass partitions of a substantial size – something you don’t see often today as codes have become more stringent. If you missed it, USGlass reported last week that ANSI is further restricting the material’s use. Fortunately, though, our industry has many excellent alternatives that meet both fire safety and impact safety requirements.

    An Armed Forces Career Center in Cullman, Alabama, has installed bullet-resistant (not bullet-proof) glass in a shopping center. The remarkable part here is that the building owner did this on his own, with no prompting from the tenants. The part that caught my eye is that the owner is a 95 year old WWII vet. Thank you, sir, for your service, and more importantly, thank you for doing the right thing with your building. Can we get some more of this, please? I know of one center in Overland Park, Kansas, with the same need.

    In past blogs I’ve discussed my trepidation with glass-bottomed anything. If you recall, I’m not going on it. Period. New to the world is this suspension bridge in China, where the wood planks have all been replaced with glass. I hope there are detour signs at each end for alternate routes, or there are plans to build a wood bridge next to it. Shortcut or not, I’m highly attracted to the alternate route. Hopefully there is one.

    Seeing as the Chinese president was in Washington, DC, recently, this one caught my eye about the European Union potentially granting China Market Economy Status. This would likely “increase manufactured imports from China by 25-50 percent,” and “…will raise pressure on the United States…to follow suit.” At-risk industries if the MES is granted could include glass, aluminum and steel. Given the past statements of a certain U.S. presidential candidate about glass and window imports from China for his U.S. and Canada projects, this one might be worthy of a letter to your congressman and senators.

    With the GANA Fall Conference starting in less than two weeks, please tell the appropriate GANA division or technical committee chairs or GANA staff of any issues you think should be considered. My next blog will probably be written on the plane back from San Antonio.

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  • Flying back from Dallas last week, it was fun seeing the green of spring in the landscape slowly creeping north. Over the weekend here in K.C., it was in the 80s. The trees are budding and leafing, a lot of the flowering trees are in full bloom, and the daffodils are in full flower. Then, this morning, it’s snowing. Go figure!

    I always love to see what might be coming down the pike in architecture, to see what’s about to cross over into the “can it really be constructed?” world. Along those lines, here are some technically challenging curtainwall projects for your consideration.

    Evolvo Magazine 2014 Skyscraper Competition winners. Those might be a little pie in the sky, but that’s never stopped an architect from trying, right?

    There’s a project in Vienna that looks more complicated than it probably is, but the variety certainly livened things up in the detailing and fabrication.

    And, there’s a residential tower going up in NYC that seems incredibly thin: 84 stories tall, not very wide. The main structure is concrete, so the floor plates and columns have to be incredibly thick to resist the sway and twist that comes from so narrow a structure. The top floor condo goes for a cool $79,500,000 (zeroes shown for effect).

    As the economy comes back, we’re seeing more of these pushing-the-envelope-type curtainwalls. Recently, we completed a budget estimate for a curtainwall that was laid out in a segmented plan, with the verticals segmented, as well. It’s sort of a barrel skylight, flattened out somewhat, but then turned vertically on the outside of the building. The bow in the vertical section over a 47’-0” height was about 36 inches. All the glass is flat, there were no curved framing or glazing infills. So that brought it back down to Earth a bit. It’s dramatic, and there are a lot of challenges and opportunities in executing that wall.

    Can it be done? Yes. Technically, it’s not that far out of the box. How about cost? The question, as always, comes down to whether or not the owner wants to pay for it. We’ll soon find out.

    No problems, just challenges and opportunities. Most days, that’s what makes the world go ‘round, isn’t it?


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