Rising Expectations

Forecasting Glass Usage for Building Construction in 2018

By Nick St. Denis

The ongoing construction expansion will again prompt an increase in *glass usage in new  construction through 2018, based on projected construction starts for the year.

*Glass usage in this case refers to architectural glass specified for new buildings that are projected to begin construction in a given year, not including interior glass products.

A modest uptick in floor area for new nonresidential and residential building will translate into a 1.9-percent increase in glass used for building construction, according to analysis by Key Media and Research (KM&R) for USGlass magazine. On the nonresidential side, increases will be seen in both commercial and institutional building. In residential, multifamily construction continues to pull back as single-family housing takes the reins.

Here is how it all breaks down: The office building segment remains strong, as glass usage in this category will increase 1.5 percent in 2018 after edging down slightly the
year before. Downtown highrises and large corporate office buildings,
which use large expanses of glass, continue to be a key driver. Glass
usage in the hotel and motel sector will decrease in 2018, though store
and retail construction will tick back up following a decline in 2017.

*Glass usage in this case refers to architectural glass specified for new buildings that are projected to begin construction in a given year, not including interior glass products.

The institutional category should be a strong one for glazing contractors and
glass suppliers in 2018. An ample spike in educational building will lead the way,
but other key subsectors within institutional—including healthcare facilities—will also provide a lift. One major segment that is poised for growth is transportation terminals, which in airports and other applications use large expanses of glass.

The residential sector remains the driving force in overall building construction. The Great Recession put a major dent into new single-family housing, but this resulted in huge gains for multifamily building. The tides have again shifted, as single-family construction is now on the rise while multifamily retreats. However, the multifamily market still remains healthy and provides great opportunity for glass usage, particularly in applications with high window-to-wall ratios such as downtown highrises and mixed use buildings.

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