In 1998, what was then the Glass Association of North America (GANA) placed its bet on an annual conference for contract glaziers in Las Vegas, and they won big. That first event, called the Contract Glazing Conference, took place with then GANA president Leo Karas, from Karas & Karas, at the helm. (Karas passed away in 2021). About 120 people attended, all focused on the future of contract glazing. This meeting gave birth to GANA’s Building Envelope Contractors division.

“GANA’s goal is to create a cadre of professionals in the contract glazing business on whom the architect, general contractor and owner can rely, and who will be more inclined to use our products and services,” Karas said during that first meeting.

Now back in Vegas and incorporated into the National Glass Association, nearly 700 people from the glazing industry are at Caesar’s Palace to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the BEC Conference.

Installing Discussions

The former BEC division is now NGA’s installing committee, led by Matt Kamper of Woodbridge Glass. The group met first this morning, discussing progress on a number of work items, as well as other updates.

The BEC Conference opened today with the Installing Committee session, which included an update on the group’s work in a number of different projects.

Danny Donahue with Frameless Hardware Co. updated the group on developing a Frameless Shower Enclosure Design and Installation Manual. He said they are almost finished and hope to have a printed and digital document by late spring/early summer.

Steve Dean with Interpane discussed specification efforts and making them more relevant to what’s going on today. They are working with Deltek, the organization that writes the Masterspec document, to review the Division 8 sections.

The group also discussed value engineering. Joey Aragon with Aragon Construction, who serves as the Installing Committee co-chair, explained that one of the industry’s big challenges includes value engineering—not replacing one glass for another but losing scope on the project. The group focuses on offering best practices documents and resources to show the importance of glass and its place in these projects.

Industry Challenges

Today’s agenda also included a state of the industry panel discussion with speakers Kelly Whittingham, of Ubiquitous Energy; Sophie Pennetier, from Enclos; and Trent Thiry, from Isoclima. With an eye toward the next 25 years, panelists discussed some of the challenges the industry is currently facing.

One of the biggest challenges is that windows account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Buildings have to do better,” said Whittingham. She shared information about the work Ubiquitous is doing to create buildings that can generate their own energy with products such as her company’s transparent PV glazing.

Pennetier pointed out a number of strategies that can help the industry reduce the amount of embodied carbon released through buildings. Steps include using low-carbon materials and supply chain procedures, as well as leaning on transparency and thinking beyond just carbon (i.e. red-list products and VOC).

Thiry took the discussion toward safety and security and thinking about the entire value chain.

“Building security has to come to the forefront with increasing incidents nationwide. The threats are changing; we have to think further ahead,” he said.

Newer threats the industry has to think about, he said, include radio frequencies in and out of buildings (signals defense).

“As an industry, we need to start thinking about these challenges now,” he added.

Panelists agreed that communication and collaboration between manufacturers, suppliers and installers are essential in addressing these and other challenges.

Whittingham stressed the importance of true design-assist processes upfront. Thiry agreed, saying, “We need to get away from firm, fixed contracts.”

“It’s all about communication and education, and it’s up to us, the manufacturers, to help you understand our products and technologies … it’s the best way to mitigate risk,” he added.

The BEC Conference continues through March 7. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more news and updates from the event.