Glass Conference Attendees Focus on Making Buildings Safe and Secure

Discussions during this week’s Glass Conference in Long Beach focused on designing and building for safety and security.

Designing and building safe and secure glass buildings was an important discussion point during the National Glass Association’s Glass Conference this week in Long Beach, Calif. The Protective Glazing meeting, part of the Fabricating Committee, included presentations on developments and efforts to improve the safety and security of vulnerable locations, such as schools, among various other measures.

Julie Schimmelpenningh with Eastman Chemical provided an update on the development of an Active Shooter Standard within ASTM. She looked at the background leading up to the need for the standard, much of which involved the increasing number of school shootings. Within NGA, and its predecessor, the Glass Association of North America, initial efforts included publication of a Glass Informational Bulletin. However, Schimmelpenningh said there were still questions and difficulties in specifying products even with that document. For example, while everyone would love bullet-resistant glass in schools, it’s not feasible in all schools due to budget constraints.

She said they had to review and analyze what was available as far as products and what was needed in terms of various actions, such as how are people getting in, what weapons they are using, etc. This ultimately led to efforts within ASTM to develop the Active Shooter Test Standard.

Currently a work item, the standard will provide testing for forced-entry resistance, as well as a rating for fenestration products. The goal is to try and simulate an active shooter system being weakened. For example, using impact forces to break through after the glass is weakened. This will also require a range of performance options, with the understanding that it’s not possible to put the highest performance level in all settings because of budgets.

The standard has gone through one round of ballots. Comments were reviewed and adjusted, and it is back out for a second ballot.

Industry consultant Thom Zaremba, who also received this year’s C. Gregory Carney Award, provided an update on a school security and the  International Code Council Ad Hoc Building Safety and Security (BSS) committee. The group is working on a BSS report, and its efforts are not limited to schools. Instead, the focus is on all high occupancy facilities. The report is intended to provide design elements, devices and protocols that hinder those intending to commit violent acts. It will also help facilitate quicker and more effective responses from emergency personnel compared to what’s currently available.

According to Zaremba, the report is expected to encourage local jurisdictions to enact legislation requiring all new public or private high-risk occupancies to have a BSS assessment during the planning and design phase of construction. The legislation would also require that the BSS assessment be in a written report or included as mark-ups in plan reviews by the primary owner of the building. It would also require the assessment to be developed by individuals certified as an accredited building safety and security accessor. The BSS report is expected to be out by the end of March for public reviews and comments.

Also part of the Protective Glazing committee, March Deschamps with Walker Glass is leading the development of a new design guide on best practices for bird-friendly glazing design, which is now published. Other new and upcoming activities include an AIA presentation on bird-friendly glass, as well as one on school security. In addition, the committee is also developing glass technical papers on bullet-resistant glazing as well as detention facility glazing, and performance criteria for glazing subjected to seismic events.

The Glass Conference in Long Beach concluded on January 26. Look to USGNN™ for more news and updates from the event.

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