Consultants (from left to right) Stephane Hoffman, John Wheaton and Tony Childress, answered questions during a BEC panel discussion.
Consultants (from left to right) Stephane Hoffman, John Wheaton and Tony Childress, answered questions during a BEC panel discussion.

When Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning Corp., welcomed attendees during Monday’s opening address, the chair of the BEC Conference told the crowd that this year’s event was designed to be interactive. And several panel discussions, covering topics such as different types of glazing systems, were exactly that.

Also on the agenda were two other panel presentations, one with consultants and another with fabricators. Three consultants: Stephane Hoffman with Morrison Hershfield; John Wheaton of Wheaton Sprague; and Tony Childress of Childress Engineering Services, took the stage first, ready to answer the questions that texted by those in attendance. One of the questions asked concerned architects’ use of storefront materials in high-rise units.

Childress answered, noting that there needs to be education and a better understanding of these systems and what they are intended to do.

Hoffman agreed and said it’s about educating the community, adding that they are increasingly seeing design-assist projects. “There is an opportunity for glazing trades to be at the table … that opportunity to be a part of the design role is a chance to educate the design professionals,” he said.

“If you can get in early and influence the architect that is a positive, but some are not willing to embrace that,” added Wheaton.

Another asked how to handle situations in which the delegation of design is passed on to the glazier without discussion.

“You bid jobs based on making money, but also on your risk,” said Childress. “So make sure there is not something better out there …”

Other questions related to topics such as mis-installation problems, preparing shop drawings to make sure engineering/approval goes smoothly, as well as what panelists are seeing in terms of smart glazing.

“Some owners have no limit on what they are willing to spend,” said Wheaton. “This is a tremendous area of potential that is emerging.”

Fabricators next followed the same question-and-answer format. Panelists included Jeff Haberer of Trulite, Kirk Johnson of Hartung, Mandy Marxen of Gardner Glass Products and Rick Wright of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®. Architects’ increasing desire for larger and larger insulating glass units was discussed.

“We see this trending that way toward bigger [sizes],” said Johnson. “It does create some issues in terms of weight, deflection, etc.”

Wright sees it as a very niche market, pointing out that most of these large units are coming in from Europe. “The reality is at some point there will be a need for replacement,” he said, stressing that’s a consideration that will need to be taken into account as these projects are designed.

Haberer agreed there are concerns about replacement, posing additional questions of consideration. “What will happen to these buildings 20 to 30 years from now? How do we maintain it? What are the long-term costs?”

Panelists also discussed whether heat-soaking should be adopted as an industry practice.

“It’s a tough question in some respects,” said Wright. “If the concern is fall-out then the products used should not be monolithic; if they never want it to break and fall out … then they should not use any type of monolithic glass.”

He continued, “Is heat soaking the answer? I don’t think so. You still cannot guarantee there won’t be spontaneous breakage, even after heat soaking.”

Another question pondered why decorative glass products are becoming increasingly popular.

“Designers are gravitating to [decorative glass] because it’s colorful, shiny, etc.,” said Marxen, explaining glass offers all of the features and benefits the industry has been stressing as an alternative material to what they’re used to. “Glass can be low maintenance, easy to clean, etc.,” she said.

Johnson added that education and awareness are also increasing. “As we’ve seen the economy improve they’re willing to spend a little more money,” he said.