Tom Culp - BECEnergy efficiency and the role that glass and glazing products can play in high-performance buildings was a key discussion point during the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, which concluded yesterday at the Plant Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. After an inspiring key note from Scott Thomsen, president of Guardian’s global flat glass group on Monday, who discussed window-to-wall ratios and “The Battle for the Wall,” Tom Culp, GANA codes consultant, later provided a close look at how energy codes are changing and how the glass industry could be impacted. (CLICK HERE to view our final video from the event.)

One of the issues Culp noted is that the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) may require triple glazing in Northern Zones. This change is not expected, though, in ASHRAE 90.1.

“It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not,” said Culp. “It’s coming, so embrace it.”

Other changes to expect include tighter air leakage requirements, new [building] orientation requirements and the recognition of dynamic glazing. He said the International Green Construction Code has even been promoting onsite renewable dynamic glazing.

Speaking of air tightness, Culp said envelope commissioning for this is also something to expect.

“This is coming in the codes and will require building air leakage tests/third party inspections of air barriers” he said, noting it will be in the next ASHRAE 189.1-2014; ASHRAE 90.1 is also working on this.

Another major concern for the glass industry, as Thomsen had also discussed, has been the “attack” on building glazing area. Culp explained that in 2009-2010 the glass industry was successful in overturning the ASHRAE 90.1 proposal to reduce prescriptive glazing area by 25 percent, from 40 to 30 percent.

“The battle has returned in ASHRAE 189.1, which is proposing the same thing but for buildings less than 25,000 square feet,” said Culp. What does this include? Culp explained that more than three-quarters of all buildings are less than this, including schools, offices, assisted care facilities, etc. If a code proposal such as this is approved, Culp explained, it would ultimately mean fewer windows and shorter/smaller windows.

“Strip windows would become punched openings; curtainwall would become strip windows, etc.” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the glazing industry, Culp said that based on the new energy analysis, which did factor in daylighting (unlike ASHRAE 90.1), “we believe it is flawed … [the proposal is] ignoring the human impact of workers in that space,” he said, referring to the proven benefits of natural lighting, such as improved worker productivity.

“It’s especially concerning since this is supposedly a green standard, including indoor environmental quality and occupant well-being,” he said.

The public comment period will start sometimes in April or May and Culp encouraged everyone to get involved.

“Get your company involved and support this effort,” he said. “We need all the help we can to battle this. Don’t view this as negative; it’s an opportunity to embrace.”