glassblog

Monday, July 22, 2013

For the June issue of Glass Magazine, I spoke with several decorative glass suppliers about the challenge of value engineering on projects. Decorative glass is a prime target for VE due to its high price point and late position on the project timeline. The suppliers offered tips to help avoid having decorative glass―and other specialty glass products―value engineered out of a project.

Since the article went to print, I have heard from a number of readers about how VE affects their businesses. Below are two letters we received about the VE issue.

In response to the article, the owner of one contract glazing firm added perspective on VE of decorative glass from his company’s experience: “One of the reasons besides cost that [general contractors] try to get [decorative glass] removed is that suppliers … require large deposits and 100 percent payment prior to shipping. Everyone wants to be paid promptly, but construction projects, and how they are financed, are quite rigid in procedures. When contractors have to make exceptions or additional administrative work, it is understandable that they will [attempt] to see decorative glass value engineered out.”

It’s clear that the VE issue extends beyond decorative glass and into all segments of the industry. I heard from Steve Fronek, vice president of technical services at Wausau Window and Wall Systems, who said the Wausau sales team faces the VE challenge daily.  

“The best way to ensure that the value engineering process serves the needs of all stakeholders is to make it part of early pre-bid design-assist. During design-assist, a cross-functional team focuses on optimizing fenestration configuration and design to meet or exceed performance requirements, address aesthetic preferences, and stay within budget—to maximize value for the owner. In this manner, a level of trust is established that makes the entire project run smoother. Wausau is often invited to participate in design-assist in partnership with an installing subcontractor," he said. "During the shop drawing and engineering phase, design-assist partners co-develop the details with the architectural team, so that all involved understand design criteria for better quality and a faster overall schedule.”

I’d like to continue the VE conversation here. What have your experiences been with VE? How does VE affect your company, and your profit margins? Feel free to email me directly at kdevlin@glass.org, or leave a comment below.

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, July 15, 2013

When commercial construction starts plummeted in 2009, the cover of the Glass Magazine forecast issue read: “We’ll use adversity to our advantage.” Four years later, that prediction is coming true, as glass and glazing companies emerge from what many describe as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

It has been a difficult stretch for all of us. And while we still have a long way to go in terms of regaining higher profit margins, rehiring staff and rebuilding backlogs, I think it’s finally safe to say the process has begun. Today, the market is reversing course, with economists at Reed Construction Data predicting incremental growth in nonresidential construction through 2013 and 2014.

Industry-wide, companies are making progress. Seventy-six percent of the 2013 Top 50 Glaziers reported overall sales volume was higher than the previous year. That number topped more than 80 percent among Top Glass Fabricators. And looking ahead to GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo, Sept. 12-14 in Atlanta, suppliers will introduce products and services to meet the needs of the accelerating market.

Today’s glass industry is adapting to the “new normal,” in which companies oftentimes operate with fewer staff, at lower profit margins, than they did pre-recession. Yet simultaneously, these companies have become more efficient, a characteristic that will benefit them as the market regains strength.

In upcoming issues of Glass Magazine, we will run a series of articles on glass companies that have successfully navigated the recession and positioned themselves for growth. If you have a story to share for potential inclusion, please email me at jchase@glass.org.

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine. Write her at jchase@glass.org.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I was very excited to see the latest round of Glass Magazine Awards announced and more deserving companies recognized. These are the industry’s most prestigious awards, and there’s no doubt the judges must have had a very difficult time choosing. There are a few winners I want to recognize.

The Most Innovative Energy Efficient Glass Project really excited me, because the mix of products and companies interested me. Knowing that the tremendous people from Architectural Glass & Aluminum were involved made sense. Whatever they touch usually does turn to gold... or in this case, green.

I was also happy to see the folks from Pleotint win Most Innovative Commercial Window. You know me. I bang the drum hard for dynamic glazing, and this is yet another piece of evidence that this product segment is going to be very hot.

I must also say that the Shower Enclosure winner from Met-tec was pretty mind blowing. That is one very intense shower setup.

When GGI’s new website launched, I noted the great look right here on the blog. It's nice to see the judges agree with me. I had not seen PPG’s Visualizer yet, so that is now on my list of things to do.

Overall our industry really looked great here, so a hearty congrats to all of the winners… jobs well done!!

Elsewhere…

  • There’s still the people portion of the awards to come and you can vote on them now. This year, I am not familiar with any of the folks with the exception of one, so I’ll be reading all of the bios and making my decisions soon. Please take a few minutes and go vote. These are obviously deserving candidates who were nominated and then made the cut to the best three in their categories. Congrats to everyone who made it to this point!
  • Last week, I noted how positive things seemed to be out there, and some of the reports backed me up. We've seen great job addition for construction, and the best construction spending since September of 2009. Keep it going! 
  • The bad side is surely the worry that our industry is experiencing a severe lack of skilled labor. Between companies cutting back during the slow period and the fact that what we do is very difficult (and dangerous in some points), we have a massive worry out there on the horizon. This is one concern that I have chatted about a few times, but it is sadly a concern that does not have an easy answer. 
  • I did go see “Man of Steel” recently. I thought it was OK—a little too long, with too many unnecessary pieces for my liking. But once again, I do have to laugh that every time one of these movie heroes visits a town in the film, the local glaziers have to rejoice, because they break every piece of glass around. To the glass guy in Smallville, Kan., what a great business you have! 
  • And finally, just a programming note. There will be no blog next week from me. I’m going to give my fingers a rest. See you again week of July 28, unless major news breaks of course. 

Read on for links and clip 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 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 8, 2013

The Architectural Billings Index bounced back in May after a very bad April, which for many observers is a major positive. Combine that with a very positive business attitude right now (most people are saying they are very busy and doing well), and you have a nice little moment happening. Hopefully it lasts for a very long while. I know we are not close to the "good ole days" but we are surely in a better place than we have been. Let's keep it going!

Elsewhere...

  • As you may have heard by now the big ASHRAE meeting took place a couple of weeks ago (Read this Glass Magazine article for some background). After more than 70 negative comments from the industry and interested observers, the task committee decided to delay any action to reduce the window to wall ratio on the prescriptive path of ASHRAE 189.1. They will take this all in, and should, given all of the consensus at play here, make the right call to not go forward with their plans to limit the use of glass. The industry came through this time, which is quite exciting to say the least. Hopefully now there is nothing that gets in the way of the right call being made by this committee.
  • The Wall Street Journal had a nice little piece on Guardian and their new relationship with Koch Brothers. Always good when our industry can be placed in a positive light. It's online if you have a subscription to the WSJ, otherwise, you'll have to wait 'til the pay wall comes down.
  • Congrats to Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. They recently picked up an award for their advertising of their BIM product. It was a great campaign, and they deserved it. I have picked on Oldcastle in the past, but I have also been complimentary when applicable, and this is surely the case.
  • For those of you who run or exercise with music, I recommend a great song to add to your playlist: "We Own It" by 2Chainz and Wiz Khalifa. It's from the latest Fast and Furious movie, and it's a great piece.
  • Yes, in the same blog I noted that business is good, the industry has consensus, complimented Oldcastle and recommended a tune by a guy named 2Chainz. I am guessing the world will be ending tomorrow for sure. Ha Ha.
  • I am starting to get excited for the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild America. The State of the Industry panel is coming together, and I will tell you this: it is going to be a blockbuster. There will be really strong leaders speaking on the subjects that affect this world every day, from all-different walks of our industry life. More information coming soon, but needless to say, you will want to be there for this session!
  • Last this week, on Tuesday, I celebrate my 2nd anniversary on my own. Thank you to everyone who supported and continues this adventure. My family and I will are and will always be grateful.

Read on for links and clip 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 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, June 24, 2013

Another edition of the AIA show is in the books, and reviews have been somewhat mixed. A majority of exhibitors were disappointed with the traffic, especially after a brutal first day. There were some folks who felt the show was solid, though. So once again, I guess it depended on where you were and what you were selling.

From my point of view, it was not good. The floor layout was confusing, and I simply did not see the traffic the show enjoyed in 2012. But in any case, I still remain very positive about tradeshows in general, and I can't wait for the next big event, GlassBuild America!

As you have come to expect from me over the years, here's my rundown of the event, and what I saw and heard:

  • The big story easily was View and its latest round of funding, led by Corning. That had many people buzzing. It is tremendous news for the entire dynamic space, for which I am a huge fan. View's booth was seriously impressive, too.
  • From a product standpoint, the winners for me were Glass Apps and Pacific Architectural Millwork. Glass Apps had the coolest interior switchable product that I have ever seen (and I have checked out a ton), and Pacific Architectural Millwork had some sharp window and curtain-wall innovations. Both companies were not on my radar previously; they sure are now.
  • YKK AP premiered its latest fun architect video. Good stuff. At last count, it already had more than 102,000 views! That is amazing! Kudos to Oliver Stepe, Mike Turner and company.
  • Once again, the excellence of Rob Struble of PPG was on display with a creative usage of his entire booth space, including the backside. Somehow Rob knew the back end of his exhibit would be visible and filled the space with a cool ad to draw people in. However, for the first time in a while, Rob and company did NOT win best dressed. That award went to the very stylish gang at Viracon. They were sporting new shirts with their logo on the cuff—very sweet.
  • I noted View and the excitement surrounding dynamic glazing above, and the other players showed nicely too. SAGE with its smartly branded "Dynamic Decade" had a nice setup, as did the folks from Pleotint. My pals from RavenBrick garnered a lot of attention with their hair dryer simulation that made their product go from a clear to a tinted state. Good stuff from all.
  • It was great seeing former interview subject Mark Silverberg of Technoform on the floor and chatting with him regarding the next steps regarding ASHRAE (more to come on that), and visiting with the classy pair of Dave and Cliff Helterbran. That was a pleasure and honor. At the Guardian booth (bustling with activity thanks to several new product launches) it was awesome to see old friends Brian Craft and Bob Cummings. That was a day-maker. And at that booth, I'd be lost without the great Amy Hennes always looking out for me.
  • I did like the setup that Tubelite and Wausau Window and Wall Systems had. I just wish I had more time to browse there. Plus, I only got see the awesome Heather West from afar because she always had something going on. Good to catch up with Nick Barone of GGI, and the always-friendly Tom Herron of NFRC.
  • Schott did not have a booth at AIA for the first time in several years, but they still had a presence thanks to Don Press working the floor and Dan Poling out and about. Dan, by the way, was mistaken for the great actor James Franco several times. (Right now my mom just made a face while reading this... the fact I called James Franco a "great actor." Sorry Mom, I think he is...)
  • Downer of the week: a bottle of water was $4 at the convention hall. Ouch. And with the altitude there, you needed to drink.

Next week I'll be back with a look at the latest ABI, as well as a recap of the first Glass Management Institute session (still time to sign up folks- click HERE). 

Read on for links and clip 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 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, June 17, 2013

Succession planning raises one, and possibly two, questions: 1) Do you want your business to continue after you are no longer active? 2) If yes, what are your options, and how do you plan for those options?

When it comes to succession planning, you have four broad options: close the business; continue to be involved in the daily activities of the business, but have the ability to take time off whenever you want to do so; continue to be involved in the business, but as an advisor or as chairman of the board of directors; or sell the business.

If from the beginning, you build your business with the plan of selling it, you will be able to choose any of the four options.

In a past blog, I proposed a four-step chronological plan for building a business:

  • Build the dream.
  • Build the team.
  • Build the processes.
  • Build the profit.

The business must be built in this order. Changing the order will prove fatal to the company. To plan for succession, you must continue to follow these steps. As the business owner, you must continue to be a cheerleader for the 'dream'.

Perhaps most importantly for succession, you must build leaders who have their own dream (the 'team').This begins with delegation. Give your key people responsibilities and allow them the opportunity to fail or succeed without retribution. In almost all cases, your key people cannot do anything that will jeopardize the business. They will buy from a secondary vendor, decide not to charge a customer and choose the wrong people to do a project. None of these choices will bankrupt your company. They will do things differently from you, but that does not mean they are less skilled than you, the owner. When they need correction, remember to be a cheerleader and support them in building their own dream while becoming a leader.

By developing leaders within your company, you are not required to execute as many duties as in the past. The leaders do it for you. As they become more confident, they will create processes that work, and these processes will benefit the company. Just because their processes are different or new, don’t refuse to accept them. Evaluate them on whether they help the company achieve while reducing your workload.

When you have leaders in place, you can continue to be involved in the daily activities of the business but have the ability to take time off whenever you want to. When you have leaders in place, you can continue to be involved in the business, but as an advisor or as chairman of the board of directors. When you have leaders in place, you can sell it and get top dollar because you have people in place that can and will run the business without you.

The author is president, Evans Glass Co., and chairman of the board for the National Glass Association. Write him at bevans@evansglasscompany.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, June 17, 2013

Big week ahead as the annual AIA show takes place in Denver, Thursday through Saturday. I do not have high expectations for this event; I just think that the timing and location will keep numbers down. But I might be surprised, because right now, there is a positive momentum for trade shows (GlassBuild America, as an example, is looking very good with a growing and fantastic lineup.). So, the AIA show might exceed expectations. In any case, I look forward to meeting up with many folks while there, and as always, my “who’s who” report will be next week right here on the blog.

Elsewhere…

  • Kudos to the folks at Hartung Glass who put out an incredible and well thought out message to their customer base about the ASHRAE situation. Really impressive work by Hartung COO Kirk Johnson and team.
  • Another fantastic issue from Glass Magazine this month. Two highlights for me: the legendary Top 50 Glaziers piece, which always gets the industry talking, and a great piece on safety by Mike Burk of Quanex. Mike, by the way, presented one of the best pieces in GANA BEC history a few years ago, and the guy delivers every time out.
  • Congrats to Sage Electrochromics on its first shipment from its new plant. That is a huge piece of news, and I know all of the players involved have to be thrilled. Add that to the NanoMarkets report predicting the smart glass segment to be the fastest growing around, and you just have to feel really good about dynamic technologies overall.

I received some great feedback on part one of my Jeff Razwick interview. In part two, Jeff talks about trends and talent. Interesting stuff for sure. I love when people talk “continuous improvement;” that is so under-rated in our world. Thank you, Mr. Razwick, for your time. I will have another great interview in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy the below.

TGP is in a lot of different product segments these days, so your architectural presence I assume is pretty significant. What is the architectural community asking for, as in what trends and products are the “in” things right now?

Razwick: Today's building designs call for higher performance curtain-wall and glazing solutions, including from an aesthetic, energy and structural standpoint. For architects, this means selecting curtain-wall systems with enhanced design flexibility. For example, can the curtain wall transfer large amounts of daylight without imposing additional cooling loads? Can it support large free spans of glazing without bulky supporting mullions or additional reinforcement? At TGP, we've found this desire has led to an increase in the specification of steel curtain-wall systems. They're strong, versatile and advanced products that help overcome a key limit on design flexibility: the limited strength or design limitations of aluminum back mullions. We expect to see this trend continue to grow. Across the board, energy performance also continues to drive glass and curtain-wall system development. This is particularly true in light of today's green building standards and prescriptive qualifications for glass. Keep an eye out for glass and fenestration systems with improved U-values and solar heat gain coefficients, and new glass surfacing options, including films, tints and frits.

TGP boasts some serious talent. I have tremendous respect for guys like Devin Bowman and Chuck Knickerbocker, and they’re among the best in the industry. So that said, what’s the great TGP secret behind finding and then encouraging/enabling folks to become serious contributors to our world?

Razwick: First off, thanks for the compliment! Working with individuals who are passionate about our customers and industry is a privilege we don't take lightly. We believe our success in attracting and retaining the right people starts with our values: integrity, teamwork, innovation and service. These values have helped us shape our company culture into one that fosters both personal growth and collaboration. A mindset of continuous improvement is critical to exceeding customer expectations, whether we're providing products and services to help an architect solve design challenges or supplying glaziers with products in a timely manner. Our goal is to have a positive feedback loop. When our processes and programs support our mission and values, they in turn benefit our customers, partners, employees and community around us.

Read on for links and clip 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 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, June 10, 2013

Life cycle assessment (LCA) discussions can be confusing and complicated. They are littered with acronyms, terms and definitions, and talk of things like raw material extraction. But there is one clear theme in every LCA discussion to which I've been privy: LCA is poised to change the way industries and companies do business. In the building industry, codes and standards will begin to seek life cycle information, and it will likely happen sooner rather than later (LEED version 4, set to launch at the end of 2013, includes an LCA component).

As Thomas Gloria, managing director of Industrial Ecology Consultants, said during the AAMA Summer Conference this week in Rosemont, Ill., "life cycle assessment is the hot topic of the building construction industry." Glass and glazing industry associations have teamed up to address LCA, but education and involvement is paramount on the part of industry companies as well. Given this, I offer an alternative LCA definition, with a 'Loud Call for Attention.'

If you've responded to the call, then I would first advise general education about life cycle assessments (and all the other acronyms that go with it). The LCA segment of this Glass Magazine code article can act as a good primer. Industry associations are another great source of information.

The second step would be to get involved, as stakeholder participation is critical. Gloria encouraged AAMA meeting attendees to "be engaged in the process. It is for you, and [affects] how you sell your products," he said. "Only through involvement can you make sure that the environmental performance assessment is fair."

A joint association task group has been diligently working over the past several years to develop product category rules for windows (PCRs are the tools necessary to measure life cycle). The task group is getting close to completing the task. As Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO, said during the LCA Oversight Committee meeting, "we are on the 5 yard line, getting ready to score." However, the job of the industry isn't done. It is likely that we will need to continue to update and improve this initial PCR, and to develop addition PCRs for additional product types.

The third component of the call is for companies to begin to perform life cycle assessments at their own facilities. Don't wait for someone else to do it first. "There is business value and innovation in doing this," Gloria said. "It is risk mitigation. You are figuring out the things along your supply chain that you need to be aware of. And, the deeper aspect is stewardship—doing the right thing. Companies involved in LCA are engaging their employees across the board."

Beyond the business strategy, involvement and adoption of LCA is important for the industry in general. If LCA becomes a large part of codes and standards (as is expected), the industry needs to be able to deliver product eco-labels. If it can't, it's conceivable that architects or building owners may look for an alternative façade product type. 

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Monday, June 10, 2013

This week, I continue my blog interview series with a tremendous and classy businessman in Jeff Razwick of TGP. The first of two parts is below. Thank you all for the interview feedback too. I have several more lined up, and it’s a thrill to get to chat with so many industry people that I respect.

 

Before the interview, some other items:

  • I did get the answers to my question last week regarding the “greenest office building” job. The glass was manufactured by PPG, fabricated by Northwestern Industries, and metal system was from Schuco. Goldfinch Brothers installed it, and Architectural Glass & Aluminum did some of the initial design assist. Great work guys, and thank you to my sources that came through quickly!
  • I know other bloggers join me in complaining about gas prices (today $4.29 in Detroit), but I'm curious as to why no major media outlets cover this? Big Oil own them too?
  • I did get picked on in both San Antonio and Miami for not making a pick for the NBA Finals. The reason? I have good friends in both cities and me making a pick and thus jinxing a team would be very bad.

Now to the interview…

I was thrilled to land this chance to talk with Jeff Razwick. In my opinion, he and his company boast some of the best qualities in our industry. In part one of the interview, I hit him up on codes (the protective variety) and BIM, while next week we talk architectural trends, and industry talent and recruitment.

MP: Codes of all varieties have been prominent in the industry news lately. I know you and your company follow along very closely, especially on the protective side. What is your take on how this latest cycle went and what, if anything, are the codes missing out on?

Razwick: Overall, the latest code cycle was positive. In recent years, much of the emphasis has been on the importance of active fire protection devices like automatic sprinkler systems. This caused the pendulum to swing away from passive fire protection. We're finally starting to see the codes even out and address the importance of both active and passive fire protection. Amendments to section 703.4 in the 2012 IBC underscore this point by prohibiting the use of sprinklers or automatic suppression systems when testing for the fire-resistance of construction materials. One disappointing issue during the 2012/2013 code review was the disapproval of proposal E121-12. That proposal sought to reverse the trade-off that allows schools to have exit corridors with no fire rating when sprinklers are in place. Despite the fact that school structure fires have significantly higher numbers of injuries than other non-residential occupancies, and NFPA data continues to report that sprinklers fail approximately 10 percent of the time, the committee concluded that adding fire-rated exit corridors would lead to a significant increase in cost without “sufficient justification.” Considering our kids and the educational professionals in these facilities, it is time to put aside code trade-offs and ensure schools are adequately protected from fire.

MP: A few years ago BIM was all the rage. But it’s my perception (and quite possibly an incorrect one) that BIM has hit some roadblocks and is not being utilized as much. What are you seeing, and do you think it’s going to ever be something that everyone will offer?

Razwick: There's still a lot of interest in BIM, particularly for modeling and rendering. Completed schematic designs and building models provide decision makers with a holistic view of the desired building components, and a good idea of project modifications. One of the chief challenges with BIM is system adoption among all project members. Since computer-aided design requires a fundamental shift in technology and training, it's not realistic to assume BIM has been implemented into the workplace of all project design and construction members. Without full project integration, it's not possible to fully realize the quality, cost and time-saving benefits of BIM across design and construction. Companies will increasingly adopt BIM for its ability to make construction more collaborative, innovative and efficient.

Read on for links and clip 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 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, June 3, 2013

I won’t beat the horse any more in regards to code talk, but I will say that the amount of dialogue the wave of stories on the ASHRAE situation has generated has been wonderful. To me, that is all I can ask for.  

 

 

Elsewhere…

  • Well, the ABI's positive trend finally came to an end in April. Now we'll have to wait and see if this is a fluke or it means a light first quarter in 2014.
  • Speaking of reports, I saw the “CBI”  (Construction Backlog Indicator) for the first time recently. I swear, I need to start one of my own. Anyway, the CBI is 7 percent higher today than it was a year ago. So, take that as you will.
  • OK folks: who did the glass and aluminum on this job? It is being called the “greenest office building,” and this article notes the high energy efficient building envelope but does not mention whose products were used. So, check this link. And congrats to whomever had a hand in this.
  • I did finally finish the season of “The Americans,” and it did not disappoint. One of the best season finales I can remember. Can’t wait for next season!

Now, on to part two of my interview with Mark Silverberg of Technoform. Thank you to everyone who read last week, as it broke traffic records on the blog, which is very cool and appreciated.The following interview is longer than I would typically run, but I believe it to be worthwhile.

You were recently in Washington D.C. to follow up on bills like the Shaheen-Portman (Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act) and the Energy Efficient Commercial Building deduction known as 179D. How was your trip? Do you believe efforts like these will bear some positive fruit for our industry?

Mark Silverberg: We had good visits with key senators and engaging discussions on critical issues to our industry. Representatives of Guardian, Quanex, Technoform, the Glass Association of North America and the Aluminum Association (who were invited by Kawneer/Alcoa) participated in the hill visits. We met with the staffers of five key senators who serve on the influential Senate Finance Committee: Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Grassley (R-IA), Portman (R-OH) and Stabenow (D-MI). Our primary focus was renewal/extension of the 179D tax deduction due to expire at the end of 2013, which encourages the use of energy efficient materials in new and existing commercial buildings. It was only coincidence that the Shaheen-Portman bill was successfully voted out of committee the day of our visits. We can’t take credit for that! The Shaheen-Portman bill broadly addresses energy efficiency and job creation in our society, and enjoys wide support, while 179D applies more specifically to our industry. We explained that the commercial new construction and retrofit markets are among the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency savings in our society. If you upgrade the lighting or HVAC in a building you may gain 10 percent or so in energy savings. Add a building envelope retrofit and your energy savings can reach 40 percent to 44 percent. Plus, you can upgrade the air barrier for significant additional energy savings, and realize people productivity improvements of up to 150 percent or more. However, since developers don’t pay the energy bills, they aren’t going to fund extensive retrofits without substantial economic incentives.  The information we provided these key senators’ staffers was well received. In general, they were unaware of the economic, energy savings or well-being impacts of our industry.[There is] a need for the glass and glazing industry to speak as a coherent voice on major policy issues that broadly affect the health of our industry, and we’re clarifying how we want to address this.

I recently interviewed Avi Bar of Advanced Glazings, and one of his comments was that we as an industry need to embrace innovation and education. What do you think holds us back from doing these things?

Silverberg: Our industry has a tremendous history of innovation, but the technical complexity and interrelatedness of building systems strains the ability of many architects to understand and implement these solutions, thus the slow rate of market adoption. In private buildings, the developers' focus is on lowest first-installed cost rather than long-term operating costs, while the tenants pay the energy bills and cost of poor worker productivity. Our code adoption and enforcement is patchwork at best and lacks a coherent strategy. The Shaheen-Portman bill begins to address these gaps. The prescriptive path of code compliance is an impediment to creating energy efficient buildings since it lacks a holistic, integrated design approach with effective modeling tools. The key to moving forward is effective collaboration with key stakeholders and industry associations to solve the increasingly complex challenges of the buildings of today and the future. We shouldn’t wait for others to do it for us.

Technoform is a worldwide company, so you see action from all over the globe. Are there products/systems/codes/attitudes in other parts of the world with regards to energy efficiency that we need to adopt immediately?

Silverberg: Every country and region is unique, but there are some best practices to learn from. Over 30 countries now monitor their building energy use rating and disclosure. This is similar to what New York City is implementing, and a step in the right direction. Also, some U.S. cities are implementing building energy certification, which also helps. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Code policy is a patchwork quilt in the U.S., and enforcement is even worse. National model building codes need to be strengthened, and the code-writing process needs to be more transparent. Other countries have overcome these challenges, and we should too. The definition of sustainable buildings and communities is expanding from life-cycle analysis of energy and environmental impact to include human well-being metrics. I will participate in a global conference on this topic to be held in Cleveland in 2014. There are great examples of projects and collaboration both in the U.S.and the world over, and we’ll need much more cooperation and collaboration to solve the complex challenges that we face. The key issue is to clarify our commitment, and affect planning, to design and build better buildings that use less energy where humans can flourish.

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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 atMaxP@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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