Out with the old, or in with the new? How about a little of both.

Apogee Enterprises CEO Joseph Puishys gave attendees at the Glass Association of North America (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference an industry update Monday. His session covered a number of topics ranging from the dos and don’ts in running a company to industry economics.

Apogee CEO Joseph Pushys gives BEC attendees an update on the glass and glazing industry.
Apogee CEO Joseph Puishys gives BEC attendees an update on the glass and glazing industry.

While he honed in on new construction and made the case for plenty of ripeness in that arena, Puishys was adamant about how underrated the retrofit market is. He pointed out that the amount of glass in new construction is equal to one percent of the glass in existing buildings, “yet we’re all chasing that one percent,” he said. “Building owners upgrade and renovate for a variety of reasons, and that is a very viable business.”

Those reasons include aesthetics, energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, protective upgrades, perimeter use and productivity. In fact, Puishys pointed to a University of Southern California study that determined triggers for renovations in that market.

According to the study, aesthetic upgrades led the way at 74 percent, with energy performance and remediation of failure second and third at 65 and 56 percent, respectively. Other categories were code compliance (15 percent), standards compliance (14 percent) and other (6 percent).

He says it’s important to educate builders and firms of the payback that retrofitting fenestration can provide.

The U.S. commercial sector consists of five million buildings spanning 70 billion square feet, and those buildings represent 40 percent of the country’s energy consumption. Additionally, 60-70 percent of the current stock of commercial buildings were built prior to low-E glass and framing advances, so Puishys suggests the glazing industry starts taking those prospects more seriously.

He said his company has focused on it in the past few years and “quickly built a $20 million business” out of it. He believes it will eventually represent $100 million in sales for his company.

Puishys noted the institutional sector, particularly hospitals and schools, are a big part of the retrofit market. Schools, for example, are often closed in the summer, which provides more opportunity.

Regarding the industry as a whole, Puishys said there are strong market conditions across multiple sectors in multiple geographies. “The tide is coming in,” he said,” and this is our chance to take advantage.” He cautioned not to overrun the growth curve, though employment and architectural billings data, among other factors, “bodes well for the next three to five years.”

Puishys also advised attendees not to neglect, but rather embrace, innovation such as Building Information Modeling. “It’s here to stay,” he said.