Saturday, June 20, 2015

While electric utilities and power plant operators have been up in arms about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) forthcoming Clean Power Plan, very little has been said by members of the building industry. The fenestration community should take note—and quickly—because one of the hallmarks of this new plan is a “beyond the fence line” approach to reducing carbon emissions.

The Clean Power Plan, set to be released this summer, is a sweeping set of regulations designed to reduce total U.S. carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. According to a draft version of the plan released last summer, each state must meet a specific reduction target, ranging from 71.6 percent in Washington state to just 13.5 percent in Maine.

To meet these targets, the EPA is recommending “building blocks,” one of which is increasing demand-side energy efficiency by 1.5 percent per year for the next 15 years.

Whether states implement tighter energy codes or create incentives patterned after the Energy Star program, one thing is certain: developers, architects, contractors and building owners are going to be a lot more interested in boosting the energy performance of their buildings.

Despite the uncertainty of looming changes, the fenestration industry is well positioned to meet this new challenge. Since the founding of the National Fenestration Rating Council 26 years ago, the average U-factor of manufactured windows in the United States has improved by 50 percent. This and other improvements have helped total U.S. energy usage remain steady during the same time period, despite a population increase of 30 percent.

Decision makers responsible for reducing a building’s carbon footprint will have a range of options to improve energy efficiency. In response, the fenestration industry must redouble its efforts to demonstrate the cost-effective value of high-performance windows, doors, skylights and curtain wall systems.

The key to making fenestration a central vehicle for state compliance with the Clean Power Plan will be continued cooperation and transparency within the fenestration industry. While the majority of fenestration products on the market have been rated and certified by NFRC, this service gives little value if would-be buyers are unfamiliar with the information provided.

The fenestration industry as a whole must work to communicate the importance of accurate, impartial performance ratings to those seeking to qualify for state incentive programs, comply with energy codes or achieve LEED certification.

The Clean Power Plan is coming and will undoubtedly impact a wide swath of the building community. These changes offer a unique opportunity to the fenestration industry, provided we respond with unity and transparency. By promoting the energy-saving benefits of efficient fenestration and drawing attention to NFRC’s independent ratings, the fenestration industry will be able to thrive during a time of great change and uncertainty.

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 25 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, June 15, 2015

If you’re reading this, you are interested in growing or improving your business. Often, the words “growth” and “improvement” are used as synonyms. They are not synonyms. Inflation will allow growth to occur without improvement. In this case, it is possible to grow without making more sales or improving profit. Frequently, improvement requires changing habits; changing habits probably involves learning new skills.

Suppose a company decided to implement new software. This software will improve customer service, increase efficiency, and improve cash flow. The company must make a commitment to train its employees. This commitment involves:

  • Assigning someone to be responsible for training
  • Developing the training material
  • The CEO setting an example by learning the software first
  • Setting aside several blocks of uninterrupted (confiscate the mobile telephones) time for group training over several weeks
  • The trainer spending one-on-one time with the students as the students practice (to occur immediately after the group training)
  • Following up with each individual until they have mastered the software.

What’s your first impression as you look at this list? It looks like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is. It requires commitment to improve, but it’s worth it. In the process of learning keep your eyes on the benefits, not the inconvenience, and remind your team of these benefits.

Bill Evans is president of Evans Glass Co. Write him 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, June 15, 2015

A few months ago, I briefly mentioned a glazier certification movement, and this week after fielding some questions from interested parties, I looked into it to see what was new. Everything is still on pace. I communicated with the program managers (John Kent and Jeff Dalaba), and they shared that 14 companies have gone through the process so far, and there is a plan to release the first batch of certified glaziers in July. Find more information here.

This program could surely help companies improve themselves, but more importantly improve the industry as a whole. And as I have noted here many times (like last week on Hale Glass and their internal programs), making the industry better benefits everyone in the end.


  • Registration for GlassBuild America opened this week and expectations for the show are strong. The floor is loaded with amazing suppliers, and the amount of innovation on display will be mind blowing. Obviously I am excited, because I believe in the importance of this show (and I do work for the show, too), but this year the level of exhibits is beyond any expectation. Get registered now. If you register before June 25, you will be entered into a contest to win four tickets to the Braves/Blue Jays games at GlassBuild America night at the ballpark. Good stuff. Obviously as the show grows closer, I will have more previews and insight here.
  • Follow up from last week: Scott Surma does NOT have an Apple Watch. I am stunned. My next guesses were Dan Plotnick and Ted Bleecker, but since I did not hear from either guy, I am guessing they don’t have one either. So far, no one I know is fessing up to having one.
  • As an industry we get many bad raps. One of them is that we are not great on retrofits of historic buildings. The excuse is that the glass ruins it, because it will stand out as newer.  That has been disproven many times and now once again. This hotel project featured in “Great Glazing” proves that we can do so much. Congrats to everyone involved on this project.
  • Welcome to one the brightest and best in the industry joining those of us who blog at Glass Magazine and on e-glass weekly. As you surely saw last week, a post from John Wheaton appeared on, and it’s great to have him on the team. I am a huge fan of John’s, and I know his posts will be incredibly popular. John is as dynamic and interesting as they come.
  • I read an article this week on solar paved roads. There are five pilot projects that are slated to happen in Idaho later this year, and it will be interesting to see if the materials used work and are at all user friendly. If this works, it should have a huge effect on society and also our overall energy usage. The only bad news is this process is surely decades away from being mainstream, but I have a feeling that is when we will need it the most.
  • Last this week, I made mention of a person I am a huge fan of during a few meetings recently. Others in the meeting immediately jumped on me for “always complimenting everyone” and asked if I actually have negative words to say about anyone. The main person asking has only known me for about 2 years, so they never saw me in my miserable, rip-on-the-world mode. I did tell them to go look at my blog in 2005 and 2006… and I actually went back and looked. My goodness was I unhinged sometimes. While I know many wish I could unload on things like I used to, I surely never would want to go back to the maniac I was then!

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

The author 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

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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

As a provider of professional services for design, engineering and consulting to the glass-glazing-curtain wall industry, my experience is that the best value to the end-user and owner, and to all constituents in the supply chain, is generated in collaborative design. Real collaboration is key, and it takes much energy and buy-in from all project participants.

The struggle we all share too often is that a “throw it over the wall mentality” is still used by many in our industry as a standard operating procedure. This process is linear, sequential, with companies pushing work through the portal and expecting results. Design and engineering doesn’t work best that way. This linear process produces less than optimal results, especially when trying to apply new technologies and compressed schedules to critical path components like the curtain wall.

Too often in our work, the tyranny of the urgent is the rule of the day. By comparison, investing time proactively in ongoing, real-time, shared collaboration from the start yields better results downstream. It also demands tenacity and commitment.

Collaboration can be manifested in different forms. One aspect of collaboration involves driving integration. To do this, there must be a commitment by the team to pull each other into the space of a shared reality. This creates better understanding, fewer assumptions, lower risk and improved results. It gets the job to the finish line more effectively. In a fragmented and often disruptive supply chain in the curtain wall industry, steps toward value generation can be as simple as driving integration. How can we accomplish this?

This process can be defined prescriptively and contractually in various forms. One form is to create a design-assist collaboration process, where parties from each firm, representing their various interests in the project, are working to design and engineer a wall system that can best meet the demands from performance to installation based on the project plan.

I am seeing more recognition over the past several years as to the value of this process, but it is still not common enough. Solving problems and working through issues concurrently with the engineering and construction teams can eliminate a great deal of waste, re-work, misunderstanding, poor interpretation, risk and more.

In my next blog, I’ll offer specific tips and recommendations for pursuing a success design-assist process on a curtain wall project.

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 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, June 8, 2015

On the heels of last week's note about the down ABI, an opposite and very positive trend emerged this week. For the month of April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction spending topped the $1 trillion mark for the first time since November 2008. Any time you see a stat that refers to the “first time” since pre-Great Recession, it is surely something to note. Combine this with a very positive trend on the put-in-place investment numbers, and right now things are surely moving in the right direction.


  • At the end of June, Jan Rogan of PPG is retiring, which is a huge loss. She is one of the greatest and nicest people in the industry. Anyone who has ever had the honor of dealing with Jan will miss her. I’ve been lucky enough to know Jan for most of my professional glass life and will always be grateful for her help and assistance along the way, not to mention seeing her smiling face at various trade shows. We will miss you, Jan. Enjoy retirement; you deserve it!
  • Props to the folks at IGMA on their latest bulletin on Vacuum Insulating Glass. There’s no question that VIG is something that intrigues many. The potential has been staring people in the face a long time, but getting it into a mass production scenario has always seemed to be the bugaboo. IGMA putting out this document will surely help educate the masses about this product line and give decision makers the proper insight on where and why this technology may work.
  • I’m a month behind with my normal “best ad of the month in Glass Magazine” thoughts. But actually for this month I am skipping the ad and giving kudos to the Here's an Idea... article on the very last page. The folks at Hale Glass have their own internal training program, and the article there breaks down what and why they do what they do. It’s an excellent read, and congrats to Brian Hale and everyone at Hale Glass for making themselves—and in effect the industry—better!
  • Anyone have an Apple Watch? Curious if you like/use it. Why do I have a feeling former glass industry star Scott Surma will be the one to tell me he has one…?
  • Another question while I am at it: does anyone really believe that driverless cars will make it in our world? I know several major players are experimenting with this, but I just can’t see it working at any sort of level in our society. Too many moving parts and pieces, but the big thing is liability. Especially in the United States. The liability issue curbs tons of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial approaches on a daily basis; this one would get trampled by it.
  • Last this week, a great link that anyone in the glass industry will enjoy—Hollywood making the crash through a window look “safe and easy.” All of us surely know how it really is! The link lists four other things that Hollywood makes different than reality as well. Good stuff.

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

The author 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

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, June 1, 2015

“Saint-Gobain is a 350-year-old company that is more focused on the future than the past,” said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Saint-Gobain chairman and CEO, during a June 1 press conference for the company’s 350th anniversary exhibition in Philadelphia.

The glassmaker and building product giant is recognizing the anniversary with a worldwide exhibition, “Future Sensations.” The expo, which celebrates the innovation and imagination of the company, makes four stops across the globe, including Shanghai, China; São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; and Philadelphia.

The company is focused on “bold innovation” to address the greatest challenges of our time, such as climate change, air quality and the future of sustainability, de Chalendar said. This innovation includes high performance building products and next-generation glasses including SageGlass, electrochromic dynamic glass from Saint-Gobain subsidiary Sage Electrochromics.

The company’s innovation takes center stage at Future Sensations, which consists of five pavilions demonstrating the range of Saint-Gobain’s product offerings. The expo, which is free and open to the public, runs through June 6 in Philadelphia before its final stop in Paris. View a photo gallery of the expo. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at
Sunday, May 31, 2015

Is there cause for concern after the latest Architectural Billings Index fell again this past month? The headlines surely give you pause, but when you dig into the report, it does not look as negative as you may think. The “New Projects” rating was positive again as was the “Design Contracts” index. Plus the winter weather may have left a bit of hangover when it comes to the overall performance. I not only see, but also continue to hear, too much positivity and confidence in the economic future of our industry to raise the red flag yet. Obviously this and the other indexes bear watching. But for now, I wouldn’t consider this last report anything but a blip on the radar.


  • Congrats to Tubelite on celebrating their 70th year in business. Really an incredible and impressive run through some volatile territory and times.
  • Excellent article in the new Glass Magazine on ergonomics in the workplace. It is a must read, especially when you are talking health and welfare of your plant personnel. Kudos to Lisec, AGNORA, and all others engaged in this excellent process.
  • Minnesota is home to some of the best minds in our industry. And now that state has a city that is going to really do something fascinating. Rochester, Minnesota, is working to transform itself and doing so with an ambitious 20 year, $6.5 billion renewal that will surely need a lot of glass. Fast Company magazine has the insight and it’s a great read.
  • As many know, I am a big fan of solar, and I still believe in it. But even though solar performance is growing and products are improving there’s still a massive reluctance to use it. The big utilities still stand in the way of solar growth and there are a few states that are letting that happen. It’s an unfortunate battle that is not good in the end for our environment or energy needs. It also does affect many in our industry that supply to it, though I do know much of it does come from off shore. Still a tough one in any form.
  • For those of you in my generation, a fun documentary to watch: “Atari-Game Over”  is a good one chronicling the rise and fall of Atari with regards to one game and its burial in a landfill. Technology on gaming has come so far in such a short time, and this documentary was a pretty neat walk through the 80s and the initial gaming explosion.
  • Last this week, just downloaded a new book I am looking forward to reading.  “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” is now in my queue and while I will never go back to a Blackberry (I love my iPhone), I have a feeling this insider tale may be one to immerse myself in and enjoy. Once done I’ll provide a review. Still finishing the current book “Becoming Steve Jobs,” which has been a solid read for sure.

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

The author 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

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 25, 2015

The construction industry is designed to look forward, to the completion of a project. However, the emergence of requirements for life cycle assessments and health product declarations ask the industry to do the reverse—to look back to the start of each product in a building, every component of every product, and in the case of HPDs, every ingredient of every component. For the glass industry, this look to the beginning inevitably brings us back to sand.

We don’t often celebrate the material that makes this industry possible. So, in the spirit of looking back to the start, here is a comprehensive and quite fascinating infographic of sand, created by Mainland Aggregates

“Today, sand is used for a wide variety of purposes that range from fracking to construction of natural and synthetic athletic fields. It is also the main raw material used in the manufacturing of all types of glass, both standard and specialty,” according to officials from Mainland Aggregates. “But did you know that man had started using sand to cook his food as early as 8000 BC? Or that there are roughly 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand on Earth?”

Click here to view a larger version of this infographic and to learn more. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at
Monday, May 25, 2015

Key to a company’s long term success is understanding the difference between “good profits” and “bad profits.” Bad profits may provide earnings in the moment, but good profits pay off again and again. A CFO or CPA reviewing your company books can’t tell which is which. However, there is one simple test to tell if you are achieving good profits versus bad profits. But first, let’s discuss what each look like.

Bad profits come from sales on products and services that satisfy a customer, but the customer is not excited about the work that was completed. That customer wouldn’t necessarily recommend a company to a friend or colleague based on those products or services.

In such cases, it’s most likely that a company didn’t understand what the customer really wanted, and didn’t understand the goal to help solve a particular problem.

Good profits, on the other hand, come from products and services rendered when a company was able to dig into the customers’ needs and desires. The company took the time to understand what the customer wanted, and the company discovered they had an underlying need to solve and issue or achieve a goal. The company helped them reach that potential in a better way.

When it comes to good profits, the customer is excited about the results and is eager to tell everyone who will listen—even those who really don’t care. The customer becomes an extension of the company’s sales team. They are happy to provide testimonials and become a reference, and given the chance, will become a repeat customer.

So, the one simple question you need to ask yourself is: “Am I solving my customer’s issues?” Or, more specifically: “Am I working to understand the potential issues and desires for my customers and making recommendations that can help solve those issues?” If not, you might just be providing a service that is giving your company bad profits.

Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at csimkins [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 18, 2015

Key to capitalizing on the growing construction market is meeting changing customer demands. This was clear on the AIA Expo 2015 show floor, as glass and glazing companies demonstrated product innovations that meet the needs of the architectural community.

What do architects want from their glass and glazing? According to glass company exhibitors, they want two things: performance and custom aesthetics. However, those two concerns are far from mutually exclusive, as designers seek glass products that marry performance and aesthetics, and offer both within budget.

From the AIA Expo floor, here are seven ways glass and glazing companies are adapting to meet evolving demands and profit from a changing industry.

1.    Change manufacturing to keep up
“The design community continues to challenge us,” says Joanne Funyak, coated products manager for PPG Ideascapes. “They’re asking what’s new and when can I get it? We’re making capacity improvements. We have to look at the equipment we have and what can be made more easily to deliver and deliver faster as everything is picking up.”

2.    Build relationships with owners and builders, not just architects
Many in the industry are seeking ways to “drive the adoption of the product,” as Erich Klawuhn, vice president, product management for View, puts it. One way to increase awareness of new products is building relationships. “Architects can’t always make the decision [for building products]. Our relationship with builders and owners is equal to architects.”

3.    Invest in customer-centric technology
Technology is a top priority for many glass industry companies, with firms making updates and innovations often with the architectural customer in mind. Guardian Glass Analyticss, for example, allows architects and other customers to integrate products into their perceived design digitally. “We want to help architects in specifying products. We’re constantly adding on technology components to make our products easier to see,” says Chris Dolan, director of marketing for Guardian Industries.

“We have to make using our product easy for [the customer],” adds View's Klawuhn. View introduced Intelligence Version 2, a connective predictive glass that uses weather feeds to clear or tint. “We’ve updated the technology to gratify the customer.”

4.    Anticipate demand
Viracon’s Garrett Henson, vice president of sales and marketing, says the industry is seeing a lot of activity again. “Customers are challenging us from an engineering standpoint to come up with reliable, safe technology to get more glass. We have to produce and invest capital to keep up with the desire.”

5.    Invest in process for today and for the future
Building sustainability has been a theme for architects and the building community for many years. Mike Turner, national operations manager for YKK AP America, says resiliency is an upcoming theme within the industry, and notes YKK AP’s investment into resilient buildings. “We’re trying to design structures that consider how you maintain them after warranties run out. How easy will it be? How accessible will the parts be?” he says.

6.    Produce products that answer the question: What do you want it to do?
 “Architects have challenged us with design, to see if we can do it,” says Alan McLenaghan, CEO of Sage Electrochromics. “Now we’re asking ‘what do you want it to do?’ I want to help architects achieve their dream. By listening to the voice of customers, we’re adapting product for how it will be used in the space. It has to fix the problem.”

In a similar way, Kawneer Co., in conjunction with its partner companies Reynobond and Traco, offers architects complete solutions for all major market segments. “By adapting our products, we can give architects the flexibility to work them into any design,” says Karen Zipfel, director of marketing for Kawneer's parent company Alcoa Building & Construction Systems.

7.    Educate at every stage
More product education is needed across the industry. As a result, David Potter, Northeast regional sales manager for Pella EFCO says manufacturers have had to make an investment in their web presence. “Architects first go the a company’s website to learn about products. With an effective website, customers can be highly educated after one view. Then, still try to get them into the office for education on proper application and determine the right solution.”

Kevin Norcross, general manager for Vetrotech, says with a niche and technical product like ceramic fire-rated glass, education for the architect is key—in terms of codes, specifications and life safety of the product. "We are always getting more questions from the architectural community, especially about [Environmental Product Declarations] and [Health Product Declarations]. It’s very important that we continue to educate the community.”

Bethany Stough, managing editor, Glass Magazine

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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