BEC technicalIt’s not every day that the glass industry gets to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together, but this year they did, as the Glass Association of North America’s 2013 Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference opened yesterday at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The program began late in the afternoon with the Technical Committee meeting, in which members reviewed a number of working items. The session also included two guest speakers.

Committee chair Chuck Knickerbocker of Technical Glass Products opened the meeting with a list of some of the group’s working items. These included a document on structural silicone glazing guidelines, which is expected to soon be approved, as well as a document of the top 10 items commonly missing from fenestration system shop drawings. This document was published several years ago as a Glass Informational Bulletin and is now being revised and re-balloted. Also in the works is the Commercial Fenestration Systems Manual. Knickerbocker said the first three of six sections should be published by September and will cover primarily basic system descriptions, etc., and after that will cover design consideration, some of the vocabulary, glossary, etc.

The Project Manager’s Reference Manual is up for renewal, as well.

Greg Carney, C.G. Carney Associates and technical consultant to the BEC division, raised one point of possible future discussion and consideration. He said there has been some activity in field where it seems in part gray PIB has been migrating into the sightline/vision area in insulating glass in the marketplace.

“This is just something to be aware of,” said Carney.

The group also heard two presentations that focused on “trends affecting the glass and glazing industry.” The presenters were John Runkle of ATI and Christian Kohler of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Runkle began with a discussion on achieving a high performance building envelope through building commissioning; this involves evaluation, verification and documentation that a building’s design and construction meet performance expectations. In particular, the presentation focused on air barriers.

“More and more states are coming out with air leakage requirements,” said Runkle, who pointed out that the International Building Code references the International Energy Conservation Code for air leakage.

As for building envelope commissioning, he said this is becoming more pervasive and is something of which the industry can expect to see more.

Runkle noted that “in its simplest form” commissioning is to separate the interior environment from the exterior.

“The commissioning process needs to be holistic,” Runkle said. “Think about how one change could affect something else.”

As part of the process, he noted it’s important to get involved early in the process, such as in the pre-design phase; mock-ups are also a common element.

He explained that as part of building commission “you have the obligation to get as close to Mother Nature as you can to evaluate the building.”

Christian Kohler of LBNL spoke next about the COMFEN program for commercial fenestration. He explained that with fenestration designs there are a number of tradeoffs, such as cooling, daylighting, peak energy, architectural style, etc. Likewise, the solutions also vary.

As designs are constantly evolving, Kohler said COMFEN is a tool that will assist users throughout the design process.

“COMFEN is a façade design tool; it’s not a whole building design tool,” he said.

Kohler also showed demonstrations of the program and its features and capabilities. He also noted that electrochromic glazing was recently added as a glass selection type, as well.

The BEC Conference runs through Tuesday. Look to for more news and videos from the event, and follow @USGlass on twitter for updates throughout the conference.