Monday, June 14, 2010
My first introduction to Building Information Modeling was way back in 2006 at the first annual Glazing Executives Forum during GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo. Patrick MacLeamy from HOK gave a luncheon presentation to a group of contract glaziers saying that BIM was coming, fast—and boy was he right.

The number of firms that have obtained BIM software has doubled between 2006 and 2009, according to the 2009 Business of Architecture, a survey from the American Institute of Architects. That’s 34 percent of all firms, and about 50 percent of AIA architects, according to the survey, as reported in a June 11 release from the AIA.

There are a lot of industry companies that have already jumped on the BIM train—companies such as Kawneer, YKK, Trainor Glass, Wausau Window and Wall Systems, and Vitro America, to name a few. However, I’ve spoken to other folks in the industry who are employing the wait-and-see approach. My observations at industry events last week alone make it clear to me that the time for waiting and seeing has come and gone.

I was jet-setting my way across the country to attend the American Architectural Manufacturers Association Summer Conference 2010, June 6-9 in Oak Brook, Ill., and the AIA 2010 National Convention and Design Exposition, June 10-12 in Miami. And BIM was a major topic of conversation at both events.

AAMA is in the process of developing the first BIM standard for commercial fenestration.

"The purpose in developing a standard for commercial fenestration products is to better assist users of BIM files in understanding the level of information contained within the manufacturer's model, said Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO, in a Jan. 22 release. "This will benefit the overall industry by standardizing the data contained within the model so that BIM can be implemented across a broad range of products efficiently and effectively."

“I believe it will be a highly used standard, once it’s created,” Mike Turner, vice president of marketing, YKK-AP, and task group chair, said of the standard during the AAMA meeting last week.

At AIA, I saw many companies on the exhibit floor touting their new BIM models, and the seminar sessions were filled with talk about BIM. One of the major topics, similar to AAMA’s move for modeling standards, was the AIA’s call for open BIM software standards.

For more information about BIM and the glass industry, I recommend looking at the following articles we’ve run in Glass Magazine. Let me know your thoughts about BIM, and how your company is getting on the BIM train.

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

Monday, June 7, 2010
I was struck last week by a member of the industry, with whom I chatted on a conference call. He remarked he'd just heard for the first time about an important piece of legislation that I thought "everyone" knew about. The bill offers potential rewards to those prepared to capitalize on it, and could be a short-term "game-changer" once it passes.

The experience got me to thinking about the word opportunity.

Merriam Webster's dictionary defines opportunity as a "Favorable set of circumstances. An opening. A chance to break new ground."

As this implies, opportunities are meaningless unless followed up with action. In addition, before one can seize the opportunity presented, one must first understand what they're looking at.

I believe our industry is about to encounter a few obvious, and some less-than-obvious, opportunities that are just now peeking over the horizon.

First, the move to use U-factor in lieu of R-factor when touting energy efficiencies to consumers is now being debated, and it appears to be gaining momentum. This could be a marketer's dream in terms of building demand for newly positioned energy efficient windows. Click here for more information.

Next, the push to increase the use of three panes vs. two in various zones for commercial glazing will further push the envelope of technology, which always drives additional breakthroughs and results in incremental growth. More here.

Another opportunity revolves around the rebates offered on Energy Home Star products (aka, Cash for Caulkers). This program is still being debated, but we believe it is likely to pass in some form this year. Sales of energy-efficient products are bound to spike once this program goes into effect.

In addition, we're seeing the push for "green" buildings gain further strength, with Building Star legislation just introduced a few weeks ago to provide tax credits to commercial builders and suppliers. Click here.

These, and more, opportunities are now available -- or will soon be -- for companies that recognize them, research them and determine whether they fit with their business strategy. (Of course, having the resources necessary to take advantage of the opportunities is equally important.)

Opportunity has also been defined as an auspicious state of affairs or a suitable time. A quote by Eleanor Roosevelt captures it this way: "If you prepare yourself ... you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears."

Are you prepared for your next great opportunity?

— By David Walker, vice president of Association Services, National Glass Association
Friday, May 28, 2010
Recently, I’ve seen a number of articles, blogs and online discussions regarding U-factor and R-value, especially with regard to fenestration products. It’s time for NFRC to set the record straight on this important issue.

NFRC recognizes only U-factors for energy ratings for important technical reasons, consumer reasons and legal reasons.

This is not a simple issue. From a technical perspective, U-factor is not a material property value. It is the result of a calculation that combines the conductance values of the numerous materials in a fenestration product. This includes glazing materials, gas fills, spacer materials, framing materials, weather strips, sealants, etc. In addition, it includes the convection and radiation elements that occur within and adjacent to the fenestration product surfaces that dramatically influence its energy rating. In thermal chambers, NFRC tests products at specific environmental conditions with tightly calibrated equipment, and also applies a standardized air film coefficient to assure repetitive results from lab to lab.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has long recognized U-factor as the correct measurement for both fenestration products, and wall and roof assemblies. Only specific materials have a recognized R-value. In addition, the International Energy Conservation Code only recognizes U-factor for fenestration products. ASHRAE 90.1, for commercial buildings, and the IECC, for residential buildings, both reference NFRC’s procedure for determining the U-factor of fenestration products (NFRC 100).

As a 501(c)(3) public service organization, NFRC has an inherent responsibility to communicate to consumers, government bodies and others the most appropriate and credible information about fenestration product performance. Because U-factor provides more technically sound information for fenestration products, NFRC provides U-factors rather than R-values. U-factor is directly related to energy savings because it directly predicts reduced heat transfer. In contrast, the relationship of R-value to energy savings is more complicated and highly variable.

With the energy performance of products assuming increasing importance in today’s marketplace, fenestration product manufacturers face expanded legal risks if they advertise the energy performance of their products in an inaccurate or misleading manner. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has adopted regulations intended to protect consumers from misleading and deceptive advertising practices regarding R-values and home insulation products (70 Fed Reg. at 31,259). However, those regulations give no direct guidance regarding the use of R-values for fenestration products.

It is critically important that product performance is communicated consistently to all interested parties. U-factor is the recognized term for relating the thermal transmittance of windows, doors, skylights, curtain walls and fenestration attachment products. NFRC will continue to recognize U-factor – and U-factor only – for fenestration products.

--Jim Benney is the National Fenestration Rating Council’s chief executive officer. He has been involved in developing product and performance standards for the window and glass industry for more than 20 years. He can be reached at

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, May 24, 2010
You’ve probably heard that “a 1000-mile journey begins with a single step.” This is true. Just as true is the fact that “the journey continues with a single step.” In previous blogs I stated that I am training to run 56 miles on my 56th birthday. Also stated were potential conflicts/obstacles that could interrupt my training.

During my training every time an obstacle has appeared, I have been faced with a choice to stop or find a way to circumvent the obstacle. What I have realized is that the challenge is not physical but mental. In fact, it really comes down to taking another single step.

At the end of March, I was scheduled to run 28 miles. I can run 1.2 miles from my house to get on the Country Music Marathon course. I pick up the course at the 6-mile point of the CMM. The course finishes at LP Field, home of the TN Titans. Counting some deviation the stadium would be 22 miles into the run. The stadium is 6 miles from my house so that would give me 28 total miles. The CMM course runs through Music Row and The Gulch areas, which are attractive interesting parts of the city. After these areas it is a very boring unattractive course. It runs by government subsidized housing and through an industrial area that borders the housing. We go briefly through a park and return to the industrialized area. When I reached LP Field (22 miles) I called my wife to come pick me up. I just quit! I was pissed but did not know why I quit. I replayed the decision to quit in my mind for several days until I determined an answer.

I discovered that I was mentally bored. My mental exhaustion led to a perceived physical exhaustion. I was at the foot of a pedestrian bridge that goes from LP Field over the Cumberland River into downtown Nashville. Downtown Nashville is an alive place with construction, the Country Music Hall of Fame, tourists and other distractions. All I had to do was take a single step to begin to cross the bridge and get into the downtown area. My brain would have been awakened and any perceived physical exhaustion would have been diminished. I would have kept running and completed the 28-mile run. But I didn’t take that step.

It wasn’t a physical reason I quit, but a mental one. The decision to quit is rarely physical; it is almost always mental. All I had to do was cross the bridge. It didn’t matter if I ran, walked or crawled over that bridge. It only mattered that I continued on my journey, took the next step and crossed the bridge. This has become my mantra. All anyone has to do to overcome an obstacle is just “cross the bridge.” In my case it was literal. In others it may be figurative.

“Just cross the bridge!”

—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
Monday, May 17, 2010
2009 was a tough year for contract glaziers. Of the companies that made this year’s Top 50 Glaziers and provided exact sales figures for 2008 and 2009, 55 percent reported a decrease in sales volume. Glaziers cited decreased backlogs and increased competition among the reasons for the slide. Some described a bidding environment in which general contractors were “shopping numbers,” looking for the best deal. One company reported its competitor was bidding projects at cost, just to land the job.

Whether the fault lies with the clients for rewarding low bidders or with the glazing companies for submitting these bids in the first place, this type of environment is detrimental and frustrating for everyone involved.

I’m a firm believer, however, in the motto: “You get what you pay for.” And I think in the long run, our industry will actually benefit from this situation. If you’ve ever been burned by a service provider that you chose based solely on price, you know what I’m talking about. Oftentimes, it only takes one bad experience with a contractor to make you re-evaluate your selection criteria.

Companies that take jobs at unrealistic prices have to cut corners somewhere. As one glassblog reader pointed out: “If a contractor is 40 percent less than the rest, there is a reason. Material does not have that much of a swing from one guy to another, so … where are the shortcuts going to be applied?” Unfortunately, for some clients, those shortcuts are applied to the building itself, costing them more to fix than it would have to hire a higher quality company initially. Fortunately, for us, these clients will be better educated when they spec their next project, recognizing the value higher-priced companies bring to the table in the form of quality products, trained personnel and customer service.

While I don’t wish this experience on anyone, clients that look only at the bid number and not at the glazier are setting themselves up for failure. My bet is they won’t make the same mistake twice. What’s yours?

Jenni Chase, Editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, May 10, 2010
A Census Bureau person was on the news saying that, if conservatives don't participate in the census (due to their presumed anti-government sentiment), then they will be under-represented for the next 10 years in Congress, school funding, highway funding, etc. But really, everyone feels like "their position" is under-represented, whether they are liberal or conservative. We all believe that most people should think like we do, and that the system is stacked against us (and many times there are real abuses of the system that lend credibility to our assumptions).

While the census will never eliminate this "perceived" misrepresentation, neither will it result in an accurate count upon which to base our representation for the next decade. That's because the census is about counting warm bodies without regard to their citizenship, instead of counting citizens. Take a look at the form here. There are no questions about citizenship, only ethnic origin. Now, I'm not opening the whole immigration can of worms here, I'm just saying ... if we're going to use this count to establish our representation in the United States Congress, let's base it on the number of United States citizens.

Worse yet, the Census itself is a redundancy! The IRS already knows how many people are in this country, where they live, and how much money they make. They even know my kids' names and social security numbers. So, why are we counting everybody again, with an entire separate bureaucracy? Most everybody on the IRS rolls is at least a tax-filer, even if they are not a tax-payer. This seems like a much better way to establish congressional representation -- base it on law-abiding taxpayers/tax-filers, not a head count of every warm body. The result: the end of representation without taxation. The bonus: eliminating the Census Bureau will save billions of dollars, and eliminate one little bureaucracy. We can accomplish the constitutionally required count without them.

There are two possibilities regarding my theories: they make too much sense to become government reality, or I am way off base. Honestly, it could be either. Maybe the census is a wonderful thing. What do you think of the decennial enumeration? Do you have strong feelings about completing (or not completing) yours? Have you been visited by a Census worker, and what was that like? I ended up sending mine in before they came looking for me.

--By Chris Mammen, president, M3 Glass Technologies, Irving, Texas
Monday, May 3, 2010
The glass and glazing industry is starting to see the trickle-down of government recovery money, but it is not without a price. These projects are tagged with important features that glaziers will do well to be aware of. Most of the projects are for Department of Defense installations or GSA, and have blast resistance requirements.

A significant percentage of the recovery money ends up in the hands of architectural firms responsible for design and construction oversight. The design budgets are nice and fat, and many of the architectural firms hire blast-load consultants to provide design input, write specifications and review submittals during the construction phase. So now the typical submittal has to jump through an additional hoop. The blast-load consultants are usually eager to make their value known, requiring every “t” to be crossed and every “i” to be dotted.

Sometimes, the blast-load consultants are not altogether familiar with glazing systems, and this results in a nightmare of rejections and resubmittals. Submittals that are rejected require time, effort and often a tangible dollar amount to be resubmitted.

Projects with recovery earmarks are good business when you understand their process, and glazing contractors who want to cash in on the recovery money should be prepared for the additional efforts that are now necessary. Stay tuned for my next blog, where we’ll cover some of the items typically required in submittals for blast-resistant glazing.

--By Stewart Jeske, P.E., president, JEI Structural Engineering
Friday, April 23, 2010

Solar panels have opened up a booming market for glass and glazing professionals. Most big names in the industry have entered the niche. Just in the recent past, Solutia, St. Louis, agreed to acquire Etimex Solar; the Dow Chemical Co. picked Midland, Mich., as the site for the first full-scale facility for its Dow Powerhouse Solar shingles; Cardinal Solar Technologies, part of Cardinal Glass Industries, Eden Prairie, Minn., opened a facility in Mazomanie, Wis., to grind, drill and temper two types of glass for use in PV; and Saint-Gobain, France, announced plans to boost its yearly sales related to solar power up to Eur 2 billion in five years and make acquisitions in the sector. First Solar, Tempe, Ariz., the market leader in commercial systems, is participating in the solar markets at a level of $1.9 billion; total market value for 2009 was $19.6 billion in 2009, according to a recent Research and Markets study.

Even non-core glazing players, such as Alcoa, Pittsburgh, and non-glazing companies, such as Chevron, San Ramon, Calif., are getting into the solar field. Alcoa has replaced the glass in parabolic troughs with reflective aluminum and integrated the mirror into a single structure. And Chevron has transformed an old refinery site in California into a test bed for seven advanced photovolatic technologies.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has done its share to help the solar industry. Companies like Abound Solar Inc., Loveland, Colo., picked up $12.6 million in tax credits from the U.S. Department of Energy, via the ARRA, through a competitive selection process that examines how many green jobs a firm creates, the cost-effectiveness of its operations, the speed at which it implements manufacturing processes, and the overall benefit in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.

The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act, H.R. 4085 in the House and S. 2755 in the Senate, would help the solar industry even more by expanding the commercial solar investment tax credit to include the purchase of solar manufacturing equipment. The improved tax incentive for solar manufacturing will create long-term growth and jobs. Passage of this bill would create a generally available and immediately reliable 30 percent credit for the tools to create solar panels, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C.

You can do your bit to help pass the act. Here's how:

--Call and write your senators and representatives. If they are a co-sponsor of the manufacturing tax credit, thank them for supporting the legislation and encourage quick passage of the solar manufacturing tax credit.
--If your senators and representatives are not a co-sponsor, call and/or write and request them to co-sponsor H.R. 4085 and S. 2755.

Help create new solar jobs, while improving your lot in this wildly expanding field.

—By Sahely Mukerji, Senior editor, Glass Magazine

Monday, April 19, 2010
The first quarter has ended. Let’s review our goals. You are either on track to achieve your goal(s) for the year or you are not on track. So what are you going to do about it?

If you are on track, you run the risk of taking your success for granted. You begin to think it’s easy to reach your goals and this can lead to complacency. You have worked hard so far this year. You have been doing the basics and have stayed focused on the end result. It’s been said that yesterday’s successes can lull us into today’s complacency, which is the foundation of tomorrow’s failure.

If you are not on track to reach this year’s goal(s), you have to make a decision. You have to answer one of the following questions:
1) The goal you set is still viable; you need to refocus on it. Are you going to recommit to the original goal?
2) Your original goal is no longer realistic. Redefine the original goal to make it more relevant and obtainable. Will you take the time to do this and commit to the updated goal?

If you do not consciously answer one of these two questions, you need to understand that you have unconsciously made a decision to give up on your goal(s) and possibly to even quit setting goals altogether.

It’s easy to focus on the immediate and lose sight of the long term. I need to get this job; I need to make this bank payment; I need to get this ordered. All of these are daily necessary items that distract us from looking at the big picture. It takes effort and concentration to look past “obstacles” and focus on the end result. If you do not focus on the end result, you cannot celebrate its achievement.

At this time of year there are several external influences that impact our race toward achievement. The weather is warmer. The colorful flowers are blooming and the grass is green again. Daylight Savings Time has made the day seem longer. People are spending more time outside. This is a very positive time of year. It is vital that we use the external influences to gain lost ground or get ahead in the race to reach your goal(s).

Every spring the activity level at our company increases because of these external influences. We get more “pep in our step.” Our expectations increase. Our attitude improves because we have emerged from the winter hibernation. As the leader at our company, it is my responsibility to remain focused on our long term goal(s). As a leader, it is my job to let my associates focus on the immediate tasks of everyday business, yet keep them on track so we will achieve the long term goal(s).

Do you expect to win?

Stay committed to your decision but flexible in your approach.

—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
Monday, March 29, 2010
E-mail is easy. Too easy. Richard Kelson, Esq., Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir P.C., Pittsburgh, says careless or casual e-mails can open companies up to problems if a legal dispute arises. Kelson spoke March 29 during the last day of the BEC Conference at Paris Las Vegas, hosted by the Glass Association of North America, Topeka, Kan.

Kelson emphasized to the audience of glaziers and suppliers the importance of watching what you say, and thinking before you speak. E-mail has shifted the way business is done, and the easy and often informal nature of e-mails can be dangerous for companies.

“Earlier in my career, my construction cases would have 100 exhibits. People would write one letter a week, if it was important. Today, I see 1,500 exhibits because of e-mails,” Kelson said. “E-mails are speaking without thinking. E-mails are too friendly to people who are not friends. E-mails are filled with bravado. … E-mails are coming from people who don’t have authority to speak for a company, and they are sent off without anyone reviewing them.”

Technology has made it possible for council to discover e-mails that were written but never sent. Mirror drives and back-up servers can house anything that has been drafted on the computer, even it if was never saved.

“I used to tell people to follow the 24-hour rule—to sit on an e-mail for 24 hours before sending,” Kelson said. “That rule won’t protect you now. Before you type an e-mail, write it out on paper, by hand.”

Kelson added that people should never send e-mails when “you’re overtired, emotional or upset.” Any e-mail sent after midnight can wait until the morning. “Don’t make a case for the other side by e-mailing after midnight,” he said.

The reply all, copy and blind copy functions in e-mail can lead to “devastating” unintended consequences if an e-mail is inadvertently sent to the wrong parties. “E-mails can end up in the wrong hands. … Always check and consider recipients before sending,” Kelson said. He also emphasized that no one should ever be copied on an e-mail to council. “This waives privilege.”

To prevent e-mail problems, and add legal protection, Kelson said managers need to train staff on writing e-mails. "If you can't train your staff to write e-mails the right way, then get a new staff."

--By Katy Devlin, associate editor

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