The National Glass Association’s (NGA) Glass Conference followed opening day technical discussions on codes and standards with sessions centered on high-performance windows and recognitions for glass industry members.

The conference is hosted at the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, near Charleston. It ends on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2023.

Steve Selkowitz spoke about ways that fenestration and glazing can contribute to better-performing existing buildings.

High-Performance Windows

Steve Selkowitz, an affiliate with the Building Technology & Urban Systems Development of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, believes single-glazed buildings should become like dinosaurs—extinct. But change happens slowly.

Selkowitz discussed several options and opportunities to update U.S. buildings with high-performance windows.

Selkowitz says the long-term goal is to get to net zero. He said the industry has seen some jurisdictions putting building energy and carbon policies in place. Energy efficiency, he said, is essential to achieving these goals.

Renovation is one of the significant steps toward net zero design. Also driving the change toward high performance includes a move toward resiliency, decarbonization, health and well-being, and more.

“If we’re going to do anything about carbon in 2050, we have to look at existing buildings,” said Selkowitz. “If you don’t change them, we will never reach these aggressive goals.”

He added that buildings are durable, and changes happen slowly. This means many buildings and homes still have single-glazed windows. Challenges to these changes include complicated and expensive retrofit and renovation costs. The good news is that there are many options to improve performance.

Some of the façade retrofit options include sash replacement, glazing replacement and secondary window systems. Selkowitz  explained that there is a significant need for these materials; in the U.S., 2.4 million commercial buildings have single-pane glass—40% of buildings. Better windows can address heating and cooling costs, improved daylighting and acoustics, air leakage, condensation and thermal comfort.

One of the obstacles to overcome is the perceived increased costs of installing high-performance glazing products. However, better-performing window systems can lead to a smaller HVAC system and lower heating and cooling costs.

Several organizations, such as the Façade Tectonics Institute, are also working with the Department of Energy to support and accelerate the adoption of high-performance fenestration and façade solutions for commercial buildings.

While better-performing products can mean many benefits in terms of energy and carbon use and costs, Selkowitz said the real benefit is the people and occupants inside the buildings. Improved building performance will also mean improved occupant performance, comfort, health and satisfaction.

Aaron Thompson with Viracon, who has been involved with the association since 2016, was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year.

Awards and Recognitions

During the volunteer celebration dinner on Wednesday night, the association recognized some of its volunteer members for their dedication, support and service to the industry. Bill Sullivan with Brin Glass and Tim McGee with Glass Coatings and Concepts are retiring and have received special recognition. Dave Evans with Guardian Glass was also recognized for his work in the industry, particularly as the group’s mirror technical liaison.

Finally, the Volunteer of the Year award was given to Aaron Thompson with Viracon. Thompson has been involved in the association since 2016 and is the Fabricating Committee chairperson. The Greg Carney Award was not presented.

The event concludes Thursday, Feb. 8. Keep an eye on USGNN™ and follow us on social media for more updates from the event.

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