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Code consultant Tom Culp provided an update on the latest in the codes arena, including a discussion about ASHRAE 90.1.

Topics ranging from building codes to legal issues were on the program during the second day of the Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) conference, which is taking place in Las Vegas. Speakers included Tom Culp of Birch Point Consulting and Courtney Little with Ace Glass.

Code Talks

Culp provided the crowd with an update on some changes and developments in the codes arena, taking a looking at the continuing “battle for the wall.” In January, he explained, the glass industry was successful in defeating the ASHRAE 189.1 proposal that would have reduced window-to-wall ratio by 30 percent.

“We won, but we can’t rest on our laurels,” said Culp. “There is huge pressure at [ASHRAE] 90.1 for the next step in window performance requirement in the 2016 edition, and window-to-wall area will come up again as part of it.”

Speaking of ASHRAE 90.1, Culp said the trend is toward increased stringency, particularly in terms of window requirements, pointing out they are seeing a decrease in U-factor, while solar heat gain is pretty much stable.

He said the 2013 edition of 90.1 is overall good for industry: there is no reduction in glazing; no new minimum visible transmittance (VT) requirement; there are expanded daylighting/orientation requirements; the envelope trade-off method includes credit for daylight and shading but not reducing window area; and there was no relaxation in air leakage requirements.

He also explained the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) was completed last October. The IECC, said Culp, also allows ASHRAE 90.1 as a full compliance option.

“Overall, there were no changes in U-factors or basic solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC),” he said. “[It] also expanded commercial daylighting requirements.”

Looking at California’s Title 24, the new version of it begins July 1 and includes a lower U-factor and SHGC, as well as new VT requirements.

“We objected to the minimum VT,” said Culp, explaining that the combined VT and SHGC is very restrictive and not the correct approach to daylighting. “VT is the wrong metric. VT/SHGC is better at balancing cooling and light although still not a substitute for daylighting design.” He did add, though, that 80 to 90 percent of buildings in California uses the prescriptive code.

Hearings will take place this year for the International Green Conservation Code (IGCC). For now, Culp said the 2012 version is in good shape, explaining it promotes daylighting, sunshading, dynamic glazing, renewable energy, including BIPV, high-performance products, recycled content and life-cycle analysis.

Legal Matters

Courtney Little of Ace Glass spoke as both a contract glazier and an attorney; he discussed OSHA and other legal concerns for the industry.
Courtney Little of Ace Glass spoke as both a contract glazier and an attorney; he discussed OSHA and other legal concerns for the industry.

Little, who also spoke during yesterday’s conference, brought a unique perspective to the podium. Not only is he the owner of Ace Glass, but he’s also an attorney. He addressed various OSHA concerns and other legal matters of importance to the glazing industry.

“A lot of these things have been unknowns, things people don’t know enough about,” said Little. “These are issues we are looking at as subcontractors–looking at seriously and promoting what’s going on.”

One of these concerns is OSHA’s proposed crystalline silica rule, which he said could be a huge change in the construction industry. OSHA is proposing a reduction in the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica for the construction industry.

“Silica is the most common construction and manufacturing material in the world,” said Little, adding that it’s nearly impossible to control on a jobsite.

“You will have to use HEPA vacuums, wet methods and no dry sweeping—I can’t imagine a jobsite without  a broom; I can’t imagine how you will be able to enforce or do this on a jobsite,” he said.

Little said the rule change could be extremely costly as well. He noted that OSHA estimates the cost to be $658 million annually for compliance, averaging $1242 per year in real business. Little said OSHA concludes that for construction, most or all costs arising from this proposed rule would be passed on in higher processes than absorbed in lost profits, about a 5- to 7-percent increase.

According to Little, the rule will also require increased training, initial training, ongoing training and updates. He explained employees will have to demonstrate their knowledge of the training subjects in written tests, etc.  It will mean slower production (putting on PPE/taking it off every day) and establishing/policing avid restrictive areas.

There will also be the cost of employee health monitoring, including an initial health exam for employees who may be exposed to silica as well as follow up exams every six months. Other costs may include retaining an industrial hygienist to test each job site, which costs $200 to $400 per test; purchasing/maintaining PPE; and higher costs of materials from suppliers who are subjected to the same costs.

“There are also other issues, external forces outside of your control, such as other subs causing exposure,” added Little.

The BEC Conference concludes today. Look to™ for more reports and updates.