European Market Drivers and Industry Insights

There are a lot of reasons that I get jazzed for the BAU Fair that recently was held in Munich, Germany. What fascinates me the most is a combination of what’s seen and what’s not seen—and how all contribute to the energy and enthusiasm of the show.

The Fair’s themes centered on emerging market drivers that will affect our industry in the near future, including:

  • Intelligent urbanization
  • People and buildings
  • Energy and resource efficiency

Here’s my take on what’s behind the curtain – the emerging trends that will increasingly affect and shape the markets of tomorrow.

Happy Twins – Natural ventilation and daylighting

Technoform_Bau-Daylight_3Whether in offices, homes or schools, people want daylighting with outdoor views and control over natural ventilation. In offices with these features, people’s productivity increases, and their sick-days go down dramatically. With the increased global use of curtainwall, how to provide natural ventilation is a challenge to integrate into façade design.

A number of designs shown at the BAU integrated operable units into curtainwall. I’m used to seeing more awning or hopper style units to accomplish this. Something new I saw was a push-out unit (see picture). Some of the operable units on display were quite large. Though the operating hardware seemed cumbersome, the idea is a good one and a fresh approach.

Patchwork Quilt of Codes

Technoform_Bau-Codes_12In the U.S., we have a maze of codes and standards to navigate, as well as many that too often go unenforced. How do European manufacturers navigate the complexity of so many countries’ requirements? The answer is that it’s time-consuming and ultimately costly – a regulatory burden that doesn’t deliver its corresponding value to consumers. This drain means companies are bogged down in bureaucracy with less funding available for research and development to address the challenges of the future.

This system begs for harmonization and simplification based on climate zone science. In the U.S., our climate zones are representative of 30-year historical averages. (Some of these boundaries recently were modified as a result of climate change.) Different countries may need to drop the mechanisms that defend their local markets, but the benefits to the consumers and fenestration-related companies will outweigh the minor preferences that local markets have.

More Than Products

Technoform_Bau-MoreThanProducts_21Major manufacturers that were displaying their goods hosted guided tours with dedicated headsets to take customers and prospects through their booths. This allowed suppliers to control the interaction of the customers in their booths within a uniform customer experience. Making sure the important aspects of the brand are emphasized, the tour-guides hit all of the hot new products and technologies. This approach also focused the exhibitor’s resources on their target customer audience, rather than on suppliers and competitors.

Several leading suppliers of glazing systems featured their systems integration of software with their customers, such as:

  • Bids and quoting
  • Specifications for products and suitability for application information
  • Norm and regulation conformance
  • Customized BIM integration for use by architects and contracts
  • Importing into whole building energy calculation
  • And lots more.

Several booths I visited were more focused on the integrated products and services that distinguish their company. In the past, companies took more of a product strategy approach. The newer approach emphasizes how suppliers add value at key leverage points and how they help their channel partners reduce risk and be more profitable.

Ecodesign – The Next Wave

Technoform_Bau-EcoDesign_20131Reflected in nearly all show booths was the concept of ecodesign. The foundation for a sustainable product development process, ecodesign is based on the three pillars of sustainability: environment, economy and society. The leading European test lab, ift Rosenheim, dedicated their show presence to a focused exploration of ecodesign-related concepts and practical applications.

Similarly, our Technoform Group booth featured new products made from recycled materials and others from bio-based ingredients; fully traceable strips; and new knowledge, innovation and development capabilities to co-create the best customer-focused and market-oriented solutions for an evolving market.

Though the more universal themes were everywhere, it was fascinating to see how each company addressed the challenges of the future. One thing is for sure, the landscape is changing, and the future doesn’t belong to the faint of heart.


Bau Fair –
Daylighting – Architectural Lighting, Jan.-Feb. 2014, “The Benefits of Natural Light,” Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg,
Natural ventilation – Hong Kong Green Technology Net,
Ift Rosenheim –
Technoform Group –