glassblog

Monday, August 24, 2015

The year is 2040 and my grandson asks me, “Grandpa, what do you mean glass didn’t tint automatically when you were a kid? Geez you had it rough! You mean you had to sit behind windows that made you hot and you couldn’t see out to enjoy the view because there was too much glare?”

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, this isn’t going to happen—dynamic window products won’t become the norm—because the technology and the products cost too much. Maybe it’s durability? Or maybe you think it’s complicated to install? However, if you are older than 30, then ask yourself this: “If I could go back in time and invest in a bottled water company, would I do it?”

I can vividly remember my dad telling me what a dumb idea it was for people to bottle water when it was already available for free out of drinking faucets everywhere. He told me no one will pay a dollar for something they can have for free, and besides, if they want it in a bottle they can fill it up at home before they leave. Yet just yesterday, I bought a whole case to put in my refrigerator.

Think about the first cell phones. They were huge and they only made phone calls, nothing else. The coverage area was very limited and the cost was sky high. Now my kids have smart phones with apps galore. They video chat with groups of friends all at the same time. They search the web and so much more and it is all relatively inexpensive. My wife feels better knowing she can get a hold of them whenever she wants to.

Over the last decade, I have witnessed an amazing transformation in glass. We now have a whole new category of glazing products that are dynamic—from self-tinting dynamic glass, electrically switching dynamic glass to dynamic kinetic façade exteriors.

Yes, the companies manufacturing these products have had their struggles. But, all of them have great people who have worked tirelessly to solve issues and overcome great obstacles. The quality of dynamic glass has never been better and we have never had so many options and choices as we have today. The price has been steadily coming down. And, the use of these products in tandem with other technologies like BIPV and automated LED lighting systems, is propelling us into the future. Dynamic glass makes the lighting systems and the HVAC systems perform better. The ability to conserve energy, provide comfort and be stylish can co-exist with the all these products.

Perhaps someday in the not too distant future, you can tell your grandkids that you were there at the forefront of a movement in glass and architecture, when glazing became dynamic. 

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins [at] pleotint.com. 

 The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 24, 2015

On the general contracting side of the construction business there’s an interesting battle happening that is due to come to a head this coming week. The issue at hand is what the Associated Builders and Contractors is calling “Blacklisting,” which is coming from a 2014 executive order from President Obama that is titled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.” According to the ABC, the concern is that the proposal possibly could result in quality federal contractors being unfairly left out (or blacklisted) from future federal contracts by newly designated bureaucrats. According to the ABC:

The proposal imposes a sweeping new regulatory scheme on federal contractors that will disrupt the federal procurement process, significantly increase red tape and costs for both government and industry, and serve as a barrier to federal contracting for many businesses.

Comments on this are due this week and it will be interesting to see if the ABC gets anywhere. How this affects our industry is obvious … blowback from GCs that may have previously done the work and now could be booted. And also, more red tape? No thank you. With government work a major piece of many company’s pies, this bears watching. If you want more information on this, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Elsewhere…

  • The GlassBuild America app is now out. If you still have the app from last year, just click on it and it will update to the info for this year. If you do not have the 2014 app, go ahead to the App Store or Google Play and download it. You do not want to attend GlassBuild America without it. It’s like having a personal assistant right with you making sure you are seeing and experiencing all you can.
  • The Architectural Billings Index hung in there in July. Slightly down from June but still solidly in the plus range. If there’s a worry now it’s the struggles of the stock market. Last week was ugly; I am afraid to see what this week will bring.  I guess you can never get too comfortable with our economy…
  • For those of you much smarter than me and those into the environmental responsibility angle, the folks at Enclos wrote a fantastic piece on Health Product Declarations for glass. Worth the read, or at worse a bookmark for when this issue comes across your desk. 
  • A Happy belated 40th Anniversary wish to my pal, TGP’s Chuck Knickerbocker and his wife. Chuck is as smart as they come in our world and passionate about what we all do. Thrilled that he has such a great milestone to celebrate with his bride!
  • Normally this would go in my links, but this is too good for that area. Seventeen legendary locales, must visit places: shown as you imagine and then shown in reality. Incredible. 
  • Last this week, I noted previously my excitement over Hawaii's energy initiative. Now comes news that the city of Boise, Idaho, is presenting a new standard for all buildings in that community to be built following a “voluntary” green building code. While the push is voluntary, the city seems to be going out of its way to make sure that everyone understands the benefits of building sustainably. Hopefully by doing it this way, people will embrace the effort, grow it organically and do right for our universe. Good for Boise, and the best thing to come out of Idaho since the football hall of famer and super glass guy Dave Michaeli.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Now in its fourth year, the Glass Magazine Top Metal Companies list spotlights the largest metal fabrication companies in North America. Highlighted in the November issue of Glass Magazine, the Top Metal Companies include those that manufacture, fabricate and sell curtain wall, storefront and entrance, commercial interior and exterior railings, aluminum composite panels and exterior sun-control products to the glass and glazing industry.

While the Top Metal Companies list ranks companies by sales volume, it also provides timely information regarding the state of the metals market as a whole, based on market statistics related to sales volume, product demand and acquisition plans.

The 2015 Top Metal Companies list will showcase the successes, challenges, changes and opportunities within the commercial metals industry. Featuring specific metal company achievements, including recent projects, the list provides an up-to-date look at the metal industry landscape.

If your company belongs on the Top Metal Companies list, be sure to complete the Top Metal Companies survey by Sept. 1, and contact me if you have any questions about participating.

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine, write her at bstough@glass.org.

Monday, August 17, 2015

As an industry we’ve seen quite a few impactful developments, but it could be argued that unitized glazing may be the most important advancement of them all, especially when it comes to labor and efficiency in the field. The whole unitizing process is a game changer, and the article by Bethany Stough in the latest Glass Magazine really helps bring those who are unaware into the light. With finding qualified workers harder and harder, processes like unitizing take on a larger role for sure. Obviously not every job can use this style of install, but I have a feeling as time goes on, you will see more and more jobs that can be unitized, going that way.

Elsewhere…

  • Also in the latest issue of Glass Magazine, I had to pick my favorite ad of the month and it was a tough one with many great choices, especially with excellent new ads from past “winners” of mine Cardinal, Kawneer, and GGI. However this month, tip of the hat goes to marketing genius Rob Struble of PPG for their “trust” ad. Smart and eye catching for sure. Well done Rob and team!
  • Good for the state of Hawaii in passing a mandate that says the state’s utilities must reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The law, effective July 1, sets 30 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, and 70 percent by 2040 interim targets. You will now see more Net Zero work there featuring higher performing products including dynamics and solar. I love it.
  • Speaking of solar, it was good to hear from several people that the stats I posted last week, specifically that BIPV was a 3 billion dollar industry, were off. I thought so; nice to get some confirmation.
  • I have really gotten into using the excellent database at www.Esourcebook.net. I suggest you click that link and “favorite” it as you’ll want to have it when looking for products and services in the industry.
  • Gas prices. You know I always have to hit it. So while oil prices are at a historic low, those of us in Michigan and in other parts of the Midwest are paying 50-75 cents per gallon more this week than last. Why? Evidently some sort of a refinery issue at ONE of the gas manufacturers. It’s amazing how that industry gets away with volatile price swings with never a whiff of collusion or really anyone at the ambulance-chasing-lawyer level caring.  
  • Last this week, happy/sad news from the industry. A great one has moved to a different company outside our typical product lines. The always sharp dressed, never sweating Jay Phillips has left Guardian Industries to take a new gig as VP of Sales within the Masonite organization. So while Jay will be dealing in windows and doors, we probably won’t see much of him on our side of the tracks anymore, and that is too bad. Jay did a ton for our industry, worked hard, volunteered and cared a ton. I am thrilled for him as I believe he’s still on the fast track to continued greatness, but bummed I won’t see him like I used to. In addition, our industry is down another extremely talented person. Good luck Jay; we’ll miss ya!

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 10, 2015

My previous glassblog addressed the importance of collaborative design in providing the best value to the end-user, owner, and all constituents in the supply chain. This blog expands on the topic of collaborative design, providing specific tips and recommendations for pursuing a successful collaboration through a design-assist process on a project.

Collaborative design on a project requires organization, planning, and clear and consistent communication among all team members. Here are a few of my experiences in helping to facilitate a framework that can improve the collaboration process.

  1. Use face-to-face meetings right from the start.
    Schedule meetings two to three weeks apart. Have a specific agenda and goal accomplishment for the meetings set up in advance. Set a specific start and stop time. Make sure to have Internet access, wireless, and appropriate access to drawings, resources, etc.
  2. Create an action list for meetings.
    Before adjourning a meeting, make sure all action items have an appropriate follow-up activity, and a person or group assigned to them. 
  3. Use the time between each meeting to follow-up and work through the action items.
    Create an email group and web-based collaboration space, and keep communication flowing. 
  4. Organize online meetings.
    Use services such as WebEx, GoToMeeting and other web-based meeting platforms between the face-to-face meetings. Make online meetings no more than an hour in length and have one per week. Have a designated person to drive the meeting, organize it and act as the leader. 
  5. Get the right stakeholders involved.
    In specialty design and engineering for curtain wall systems, the stakeholders include the general contractor, architect, building engineer of record, specialty engineers, owner's representative, cladding consultants, and sometimes the mechanical engineer and BIM representative. Some design meetings for cladding and curtain wall systems often just need the GC, architect and specialty engineer. It all depends on size, scale, context and complexity. 
  6. Use collaboration tools to share design drawings during meetings.
    Use tools such as Blue-Beam to work with drawings on a projected screen, make mark-ups and comments as the meeting proceeds, and then share with everyone when complete. 
  7. Remember storage and file sharing.
    Use collaboration tools that allow for central storage and provide access to all involved. 

This process is not pain-free. It takes effort, like anything that creates something of value. It has to be honest and respectful. Do not give up too early. Don't give it “lip service.” Change-up meeting types, length, formats and contexts if it stops being useful. Work it through to conclusion. Assess jobs performed in this manner with a post-project review meeting and improved process in the future.

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc.also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure  industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 10, 2015

We are now about one month from GlassBuild America, and there’s one event that deserves your strongest consideration. The 10th annual Glazing Executive Forum will be held Sept. 16, and it has the subject matter that truly is crucial to you, both personally and professionally.

The keynote is “Building a Stronger Bench,” and I think every single one of us in this business knows how crucial the development of the modern workforce is. In addition, the forum includes a panel on managing lead-times--so incredibly important in the world of tighter supplies. Mix in several breakout session options, and of course the always must-attend economic outlook by Jeff Dietrich, and you have an event that you simply cannot miss. I know everyone is busy right now, but this time investment is surely worth it given the subjects to be covered.

Elsewhere…

  • This past week a report came out that said BIPV technologies would reach the 9 billion dollar mark in 2019. Now I love BIPV technology. I have been a fan for a long time and still believe that some day it will disrupt our world. That said, I couldn’t even come close to believing this report. Heck, the report states that industry is at 3 billion right now. Can that be right? If it is, that’s one amazing sleeping giant out there. Anyway, I call on my pals on that side of the industry for their insight because if that 2019 potential is true, the world is surely going to be disrupted.
  • Quick catch up: thank you to all who sent in Civil War recommendations. I am loading up the various queues. I appreciate it! Now I have to find the time to take it all in.
  • Some of the June construction data results are in and it’s pretty interesting. As you know if you’ve been following along here, the Architectural Billings Index has been doing well for a while. Only a few blips here and there. But the Dodge Momentum index has been flagging some. And in June, it suffered some more. However, looking deeper at the numbers shows that 2015 is still pacing well ahead of 2014, and we’ve just had our best 1st half since 2006. Add in the positive spending and put in place reports, and confidence remains high despite the downward trend of the DMI. Obviously it will still bear watching to see if there’s any weak points, and I know in some pockets of the United States things did slow up a bit in June. But I am looking at that as more fluke than fact at this point.
  • Last this week, 24 million people watched a debate for an election that is more than 15 months away. Either the Donald really has drawing powers or this election really has people engaged already. Here’s hoping for a competitive set of primaries on both sides with lots of choices and more debates.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some mainstream media say architecture is in a crisis. They claim today’s buildings are irrelevant, boring and maybe even “too architectural.” Frank Gehry says architecture is in a crisis, famously stating that with today’s buildings, “There’s no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else.” So, is architecture, and the glass in it, really in a crisis?

I share architect Marc Kushner’s opinion that architecture is not in a crisis, but rather in an age of experimentalism. “This is an architecture that — because of the public’s hunger for newness — is finally free to create thoughtful and sometimes radical solutions for the problems that our society faces,” says Kushner.

As Kushner, the co-founder of HWKN and CEO of Architizer.com, further explains, the barriers between the building industry professional and the consumer are finally being broken down by the accessibility of communication. Instead of architects’ designs suffering from the “reverberations of our own echo chamber,” we now have more direct access to the public’s reaction to our work.

Good or bad, these reactions provide us with the opportunity to make mid-course corrections before we look back and see that an era of buildings has been defined as those of the architecture crisis. This adaptability is the good kind of experimentalism – the kind that allows us to make buildings relevant for the people that actually use them, not just a personal art project of the design community.

As glazing industry professionals, we can play a key role in this design approach. Today’s architecture is fueled by glass more than at any other time in history. That puts us in a prime position to use glazing to push the envelope and help create buildings that meet the needs of our communities.

This could be using glass in skyscrapers to give occupants access to relaxing views and daylight, on-demand privacy and temperature control. It could be making glass the focal point of a building while also meeting hurricane or seismic codes. Or, it could be using glass to make small-scale buildings more accessible and beneficial to the communities using them. As Architect magazine’s Ned Cramer points out, large-scale, high-budget buildings aren’t the only structures that should benefit from our creativity. As he argues, “…right now this country needs architects who are willing to forego the Howard Roark cliché and find the joy in tight budgets, limited briefs, and seemingly mundane programs.”

We’ve made a lot of significant advances in the last decade, and I’m confident we’ll make many more in the years to come. These developments won’t be without their bumps and bruises. But, that’s not merely trial and error. Or a crisis. It’s advancement.

So, to borrow from Kushner once more, “I say keep imagining and fighting for better buildings. There is now a public that craves innovation. If we listen to them instead of the voices proclaiming doom and gloom, we will be able to seize the opportunity of this new golden age.” Or, as we like to say at TGP, it’s time for the glazing industry to unleash its swagger.

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). Contact him at 800/426-0279.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some interesting news broke this week initially via the Twitter feed of John Wheaton. John linked to a press release that was posted a couple weeks previous about Underwriters Laboratory (UL) getting involved in testing and certifying the building envelope. This is pretty significant news because UL is simply a giant in the world (they’re everywhere really), and having them now a part of this industry will surely make some waves. At this point, it’s obviously too early to tell if the addition of UL to the landscape will be positive or negative. However, those of us who worked with UL on the solar side of things know they are tough and challenging to say the least. This one bears watching, folks…

Elsewhere…
And a few more notes on certification or testing and the like…

  • Since the NFRC announcement of a commercial program reboot and my blog, I’ve heard from a few people about their frustrations with the current program and its software bugs. The folks at NFRC surely have a hill to climb on this one as it sounds like more than just collaboration is needed to fix the program.
  • A few weeks ago I wrote about the glazier certification movement, NACC, and noted that the first certified companies were due in July. Well the first four to make it through the process have been certified, and from what I understand several others sit in the queue awaiting final approvals. This is a big movement for the industry; it has the potential to at least give credit to those organizations that are doing business the right way. I believe you will see more on this in the coming weeks and months.

Now for the non-certification pieces of the week…

  • Can those of you who live in the states with full service gas stations (New Jersey, Oregon) explain to me why? It is just so bizarre for me to pull up to a station and have someone swipe my card and pump my gas. I’m amazed that some states still even have it.
  • I really enjoyed this article by Bryan Bush about the value of GlassBuild America. Bryan is currently the chairman of the board of the NGA and a very successful businessman in his role at City Glass in Omaha, Nebraska. He knows what value is and I think gets the message across nicely here.
  • Last this week, can you believe it is August? This year seems to be flying at a record pace. Fall is now so close you can see it, especially with football starting up within the next 30 days or so. I know many parts of the country are going through serious heat waves, but I for one am not ready to return to the subarctic temps that we get in winter. So world… time… slow down some, eh?

Read on for links and video of the week... 

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Big surprise: I work sitting at a desk for eight hours a day (me and the majority of my North American counterparts). It's tough to sneak fitness into the workday, and it's really easy to ignore the need for it during the available morning and evening hours. Some companies have begun to realize the importance of employee fitness--offering health benefits or building at-work gyms.

But how can company executives encourage daily fitness on an individual, personal level, while maintaining the productivity they need? I didn't know it was possible to espouse both high-quality product and top-shape people at the same time until I chatted with Richard Wilson, owner of AGNORA Architectural Glass North America. This is his vision: all staff should enjoy a healthy lifestyle, from regular activity to convenient medical checkups--and this is all provided by AGNORA at zero or minimal charge to the employees. This concept starts from the overall corporate mentality. "There’s no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Our whole purpose is to take care of our team,” says Wilson.

But Wilson, like all glass and glazing company executives, is dedicated to producing quality product, too. It seems that while Wilson takes care of his team--and other companies work to make fitness a regular part of the day--the team can benefit the company.

For example, Wilson gave AGNORA employees a Polar wrist band to be mindful of their need for regular activity, and AGNORA employees have the opportunity to see an on-site medical doctor and a masseuse during work hours. “In manufacturing, it’s a lot of manual labor with potential for repetitive strain injuries. Not a lot of people have the opportunity [to get a massage],” says Wilson. “We want a good work environment, but it’s also selfish. We want everyone to be here. They can’t afford the time off work, and as a company it makes us so much more productive when we have a healthy team.”

A healthy team equals more productivity. I know I always feel more motivated and ready for the day when fitness is a part of it. Take that concept to a company level. How could a focus on fitness benefit all glass and glazing workers, and in turn benefit the industry at large? What is your company doing to encourage an active work environment?

Check out how Wilson has transformed the factory floor for fitness in the AGNORA's Focus on Fitness photo gallery.

Read more from Wilson on how remaining focused on activity is beneficial for the entire company in the July 2015 Here's an Idea... story.

Bethany Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at bstough@glass.org.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Every once in a while a bunch of subjects come up that interest me, and I think would interest all of you. So in no particular order, here’s a batch from this week that may get you going.

  • I noted last week to watch the Architectural Billings Index, and if you follow me on Twitter you would know its incredible number: a 55.7! That is the highest rating since 2007. I know we all sometimes doubt these numbers, but my goodness that’s an exciting one to see.
  • I saw a great article via the Twitter feed of Kawneer’s Donnie Hunter. It’s about how architects are not overly enthusiastic about specifying new products. I like the insight it shows and quite frankly presents a heck of a challenge to product manufacturers in trying to get their materials out there. Good, quick, and interesting read. Thank you Donnie.
  • So two big mergers in the healthcare world, and rates are also going up for 2016. I think no matter what system or plan is out there (Old way vs. Affordable Care Act), and what side of the political aisle you are on, this will continue to be a nightmare for everyone involved.
  • Do you have 200 million dollars laying around? If so, you too can build an experimental “ghost city” to test new technologies. This is fascinating. I guess if the real world won’t incorporate it first, this is the next best idea.
  • How in the world “The Americans” does not get an Emmy nomination for best drama is beyond me. That show is beyond excellent.
  • I often note industry websites that impress me, and this week I point to Galaxy Glass and Stone. Eugene Negrin and company have a fantastic site. Love the use of pictures and creative layout. Well done!
  • There is now research that it “pays to be green” when it comes to building. Obviously this study will be used by many in this business, and probably by the folks at USGBC who potentially hurt the process, but that’s another story for another time.
  • Because of all of the controversy on the Confederate flag, I find myself looking for more info and insight on the Civil War. Anyone have a good documentary or book to recommend?
  • Last this week, the buzz I am hearing about GlassBuild America is really blowing me away. More and more people are planning to attend and in my research of the show floor, I’m thoroughly impressed by some of the products and services that will be on display. For the innovation/diversification angle, this event will surely provide tons of it.


Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

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