Chuck Knickerbocker chairing BEC technical committee
Chuck Knickerbocker chairing BEC technical committee

Building Information Modeling (BIM), energy and school security—all are important topics in today’s building market and in all of them, glass has a significant role it can play. Yesterday during the Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) technical committee meeting, a number of experts in their fields discussed these topics and their implications for the glazing industry.

What are the benefits of BIM for curtainwall? That was the question Jon MacFarland of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering addressed during his presentation. He explained that BIM is a way to create a 3-D intelligent model. “BIM is not software; it’s a process,” he said, explaining that those working with it employ some type of BIM software, such as Revit, which is what he said his company uses.

“It’s also import to know that the model is not the goal; it is the process rather than the goal,” he said. He explained that the model helps you pull the shop drawing, etc.

So what are the benefits of BIM? MacFarland described it as coordination between disciplines, saying that it’s a means to help avoid potential problems. It can be used for scheduling and documentation.

“Nearly everything can appear in a schedule (infill panels, mullions, anchors, embeds and updates are instant) as the models are generated so are the shop drawings,” he said.

While for many contract glaziers, BIM is still new, it’s a technology of which they can likely expect to see more in the future. As MacFarland explained, BIM can aid in streamlining the submittal process. “You can design better, increase the level of detail, etc.”

Jim Benney, CEO of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), spoke about energy codes and his group’s commercial ratings program.

“It’s important to know [if] your products meet the energy code,” said Benney. “It’s also important that they [the products] get credit for their energy performance.”

He pointed out that looking at fenestration and energy – buildings are the highest user of energy in the U.S., consuming 40 percent of U.S. energy.

“These codes are not going away,” he said of the energy codes.

He explained that both ASHRAE 90.1 and the IECC reference NFRC, adding there are references and requirements for Energy Star and LEED as well.

Benney explained that to ensure code compliance the product (if residential) has to have a label or a label certificate (for commercial windows).

The topic of school security is one of critical importance, and the glazing industry has a role it can play. Julie Schimmelpenningh of Eastman Chemical spoke to attendees about advanced glazing solutions to protect people and property. She explained that when talking about school security, it’s important to understand the needs and the threats and to apply the right glazing solution for vulnerable points of entry.

She provided a few facts about school shootings – rarely are they sudden or impulsive; they are planned out. There is no accurate or useful profile of a school shooter.

“Think of what just a few seconds can buy you,” she said, speaking of attacks. So, how do we design safer schools? One way is to deter entrance and if someone does gain entry, block them from getting very far.

One benefit of glazing is that it allows you to see what’s coming “so you can react a lot faster – maintain visibility,” she said.

Schimmelpenningh explained that within her company they have tested a variety of glazing make-ups with a variety of shots/blasts and found that even with some of the most powerful forces, laminated glass can still help deter entry. Schimmelpenningh said securing the exterior is critical, as the goal is buy time for reaction.

“[The glass industry has] products that allow that to be done,” she said. “Bullet-resistant glass is not the only viable option.”

The BEC Conference continues through tomorrow. Look to™ for more event coverage.