Annual Conference Foretells Issues to Come

This week’s 2018 Annual Conference, sponsored by the newly combined Glass Association of North America-National Glass Association, yielded information about a number of trends the industry will see and deal with in coming years. These include:

  1. Forensics for Insulating Glass Units (IGUs): Technology is being used to capture the unique characteristics of the sealants and desiccants used in individual IGUs and store them for future review and reference. “In this way, you can basically fingerprint a unit,” said John Kent of SGCC/IGCC/AMS.
  2. Zone Shifts: It’s now possible to see a clear trend in each revision of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) codes that affect energy, and as a result, the use of glass in the building exterior. The trend is one of “zone shift” in that code update and includes proposals of tighter regulations in most regions of the country. For example, Alaska, Zone 8, would require triple glazing. “Basically certain locations would be shifted one zone, requiring more efficient glazing,” said codes consultant Tom Culp of Birch Point Consulting.
  3. The Next Great Unknowns: In the code writing world it revolves around what to do with non-metal structures. Also expect to see new criteria for skylights and semi-heated buildings, among others.
  4. It’s a Trade-off: Or is it? The biggest issue in upcoming proposed changes is whether or not energy levels will be permitted to be achieved through a performance path that will allow trade-offs in different areas. “We are very worried about that being gone,” said Culp.
  5. No Resistance Here: NFRC has completed its work on diffused glazing and it has been approved. A new condensation resistance index has been developed as well and the expectation is that this index will become part of specifications over time.
  6. Hopelessly Out of Date: Finding old or outdated specs in bid documents remains a challenge. Attendees said most bid documents now require use of the code cited in these documents or “more stringent per code.” Yet many architectural and engineering firms don’t even know what the most current versions of those codes are. Spec books, it seems, are not getting updated regularly.
  7. A Shower of Laminators: Well actually it’s more of a laminated shower, as Mark Jacobson of Kuraray America proposed addressing the increasing use of laminated glass in shower doors. “We are seeing it more and more and I expect that trend will continue,” he said, though his proposal did not garner a high level of interest.
  8. No. Jumbo: Perhaps the most interesting discussion was the one around jumbo glass. The group did not spend as much time discussing what the definition is as much as whether or not it needs to be defined. Perhaps the fact that each manufacturer has defined it their own way is in play here. The consensus was that no definition was needed at this time.
  9. Net Zero Energy: The drive toward zero net energy buildings continues. In fact, John Deere has announced that all its buildings will be zero net energy by 2020. Building owners and AECs are driving this movement.
  10. A Head Scratcher. There were slight audible gasps when it was announced that a proposal to allow buildings up to 14-stories high to be built with specially-treated wood rather than structural steel had passed in the code hearings in Columbus, Ohio this week. A true headscratcher.

Debra Levy is the publisher of USGlass magazine.

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