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

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.  




  • 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.

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

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

Over the last year, we have read about spontaneous glass failures in the field, believed to be associated with nickel sulphide inclusions. I have not heard of this issue for many years. But, with the emergence of global supply sources, I believe architects and project engineers need to be very concerned with this spontaneous glass breakage and should take steps to minimize the risks.


So what is causing these breakage problems, and what is the possible solution?

I do not claim to be a ceramic engineer; however, I will attempt to express my opinion in layman's terms. Please understand I have no direct knowledge of the projects that are having problems, but offer my experience of working with glass for more than 30 years.

The ingredients used in making float glass consist mainly of silica sand (SiO2), in addition to other ingredients of soda ash, limestone, dolomite, salt cake and cullet. Normally, the raw materials are carefully screened and tested for any contaminants. Without proper screening, nickel contaminants are present and combine with sulphur to form nickel sulfide (NiS) inclusions. When glass containing nickel sulfide inclusions is tempered, the risk of breakage increases. Once installed in the field, the glass will normally expand due to solar heating. If the tempered glass has nickel sulfide inclusions, the glass will develop small fractures around the inclusion. Once these fractures expand into the other compression layer, spontaneous glass breakage will occur.

How do we minimize the risk of spontaneous breakage? Heat soaking of the tempered glass is the best possible solution at this time.

Heat soaking is a process in which tempered glass is baked at approximately 280 degrees Celsius in a furnace for a two-hour period of time, and then cooled. During this controlled heating process, expansion of any nickel sulfide inclusions should occur, thus causing the glass to fail in a controlled environment as opposed to in the field. Heat soaking is not 100 percent effective, but it does minimize the risk of failure in the field. Currently, a U.S. standard for heat soaked glass does not exist, but many companies are following the draft of the European standard (EN 14179).

Heat soaked glass is strongly recommended for any tempered glass project in which spontaneous breakage will present a risk to the general public. 

Louis G. Merryman is president of Consolidated Glass Corp., New Castle, Pa.,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The morning of May 23rd started off just right. Sixty architects from across Florida came to Tampa to attend our glass + metal symposium. The event, endorsed by AIA chapters Tampa Bay, Florida Gulf Coast and Orlando, and hosted by Crawford-Tracey, Centria Architectural Systems and Glass Magazine, provided four AIA Health, Safety and Welfare learning units.


The half-day event included an ASTM E1105 water demonstration hosted by Chris Matthews, Glazing Consultants International. To watch a video of the water test, click here.

The half-day session featured presentations on the structural integrity of high performance commercial glazing and metal systems, for which Crawford-Tracy, Centria and corporate sponsors, Viracon, GCI Consultants, Hurricane Protecting Industries and Dow Corning shared their expertise.

We took a mid-morning break in the hotel parking lot to watch an ASTM E1105 water test conducted by Chris Matthews, GCI, who clearly demonstrated why 90 percent of every building envelope lawsuit is water-related. So far, so good.

Lunch was served; our expert panel was ready for questions.

And then it hit.

Symposium presenters and sponsors from right to left: Bob Ford, Viracon; Bob Waltersdorf, Centria; Ray Crawford, Crawford-Tracey Corp.; Bill Bonner, Crawford-Tracey Corp.; Jeff Robinson, Sales Executive, Hurricane Protecting Industries; Dean Kauthen, Centria; Chris Matthews, GCI Consultants; Jon Kimberlain, Dow Corning.

“We can find different ways of doing things, using new applications, products and materials we didn’t have five years ago,” said one architect, “but the biggest challenge I have is the subs telling me, ‘no we don’t do that.’ Poor craftsmanship is my biggest complaint.”

And with that, the symposium became a conversation about the lack of skilled labor, specifically, glass and metal workers. Someone pointed to the downturn, noting that many glaziers left the construction industry over the last five years. Another pointed to the prevalence of “dumpster diving” pricing and “value engineering” around the specs and their effect on quality. This combination is sure to increase pressure in the entire building envelope chain, especially if you believe that glazing is forecast to be one of the top five jobs in the next five years.

Summing up the frustration and the stakes for these architects was the sentiment that “the building codes don’t get me the building, the craftsmanship does.”

Sixty Florida-based architects earned four Health, Safety and Welfare learning units at the Building Envelope Symposium co-hosted by Crawford-Tracey, Centria Architectural Systems and Glass magazine on May 23 in Tampa, FL.

To be sure, I know many excellent glazing contractors who take the time and spend the money to train their glaziers. It’s also true that the National Glass Association's Certified Glass Installer Program is recognized in AIA MasterSpec Section 088000-GLAZING, Paragraph 1.8 B. Installer Qualifications: A qualified installer who employs glass installers for the Project who are certified under the National Glass Association's Certified Glass Installer Program. Unfortunately, this spec falls by the wayside if not championed by the architect to the building owner and general contractor.

I know that many of these same excellent glazing contractors read e-glass weekly’s blog posts, so I encourage you to email me at with your perspective.

And assuming we’re all thinking about the glazier shortage, here’s a plug for the glass and metal industry’s most focused career center, which as of tomorrow is re-launching with a mobile-focused responsive design: I’m hopeful that by our next architect symposium, we’ll be talking about “more good glaziers.”

Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Undoubtedly, you have seen a lot about the ongoing ASHRAE code situation. Without question, it is a serious situation. But I have decided that as much as I love to try to mobilize people to action, I'm going to take a different approach. I have an interview below that truly spells out the facts in a calm and measured way. If you care about the industry and your business, you’ll take the proper action. If not, you’ll enjoy the interview nonetheless, and life will go on. Thank you for the consideration.

For this, I reached out to who I believe is one of the most dynamic and interesting guys in our industry, Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America, to get his take on this and a few other issues. I believe he hit it out of the ballpark. Mark has an incredible grasp of our world, our needs and our future. To me, Mark―along with Dr. Tom Culp―are the two guys you want at the table explaining this stuff to you and representing your industry. Below is a sharp and professional explanation of the facts and what actions could be taken. So, if you didn’t understand what was going on before, I believe you surely will now.

Probably the most important issue that has hit our industry recently is the ASHRAE proposal to reduce the glazing area allowed in the prescriptive path from 40 percent window-to-wall ratio to 30 percent WWR for buildings under 25,000 square feet. This seems detrimental to our industry, as less glass and glazing means less work, etc. What is your take on why this is happening, and what can we do as an industry to combat it?

Silverberg: "This proposal has broad economic and policy implications. Building energy efficiency is widely supported as the right thing to do, but how to get there and balance the related issues is often debated. Ironically, this proposal flies in the face of the ASHRAE 189.1 green building standard that is specifically intended to address both occupant well-being and energy efficiency. The driver of this change is recent computer modeling that got the attention of some ASHRAE individuals. Many people in our industry find these analytical tools outmoded and based on flawed assumptions. Keep in mind the following factors must be addressed, in this order, to optimize a building’s energy efficiency performance: (1) Optimize mass and orientation (2) Optimize the building envelope (3) Design and optimize the building systems and infrastructure.

Below, I offer a few examples of my serious concerns with the analytical method on which the proposed WWR reduction is based. The information is from Rahul Athalye of PNNL’s presentation at the GANA Annual Conference Energy Day in January 2013 and the questions I asked him during the session. He is one of the lead simulators whose work is being used by ASHRAE.

  • Responding to my direct question, Mr. Athalye reported that the same building footprint and orientation was used for all 12 locations analyzed. This negates optimization of building mass and orientation (the principal determinant of a building’s energy efficiency), and doesn’t make common sense.
  • Only 40 percent of the typical 53,600-square-foot building was in perimeter zones of only 15 feet deep. Modern design and daylighting strategies attain a much higher percentage of the daylighted floor plate and have greater depth. In the analysis, only 80 percent of this artificially reduced perimeter zone is deemed daylightable.
  • With only 40 percent of the building deemed within the perimeter zone, only 56 percent of that area was included in the daylight analysis as containing photocontrols (80 percent daylightable perimeter zone minus private offices under 250 square feet, which were excluded). However, this does not reflect the improvements to ASHRAE 189.1 that require photocontrols in more spaces and higher performance windows! Since building systems are interactive, it’s easy to see that by negating the performance contribution of mass and orientation, and minimizing the gains of daylighting, you will skew the conclusions of the study.

These are but a few of the issues with this analysis; there are plenty more. One of the stated goals of the DOE-funded PNNL study was, “possible changes to ASHRAE 90.1 to increase energy savings.” None of the primary goals of the study related to measuring the impact of buildings on human beings. Certainly, energy efficiency is very important to nearly everyone nowadays. It’s one of the main benefits brought by Technoform’s products and technologies to commercial fenestration and insulated glass. But if energy efficiency were the sole driver of healthy buildings, we would live in caves or buried in the ground. Several studies have measured and documented that for people to thrive and be healthy, their space (for work, learning, living) should provide daylighting (with proper glare control), a view of nature, and an ability to control access to fresh air. Finding a balance between energy efficiency and human well-being is the key, though how you specifically attain this balance varies by climate zone, building use, the goals of the owner, etc.

In my appraisal, the analysis on which the WWR debate is based on is too narrow of a perspective; human beings are left out. As an industry, it’s critical that we file comments prior to the June 17 deadline on why we disagree with the proposal to reduce glazing area. Stick to the flaws you find in the proposal, and don’t criticize ASHRAE or any particular people or industries. And collaborate through our trade associations, who are coordinating industry action."

Note that last line: the various trade organizations are working on this, and if you are interested in this process, you can and should contact those groups (NGA, GANA, AAMA, IGMA, AEC, etc.)

Next week, I catch up with Mark about his visit to Washington D.C., energy efficiencies throughout the globe, and educating the industry. Really insightful stuff you will not want to miss.

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

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, May 21, 2013

Every so often, I do a blog that briefly hits on various topics, and since it’s been awhile, I figure it’s time to catch up on some of the happenings in the world of glass, glazing and more.  So buckle up, here it goes…

  • My heart goes out to everyone in Oklahoma after the brutal weather/tornadoes that passed through on Monday. Thoughts and prayers to all. Stay strong OKC, Moore and all the areas affected.
  • Who’s going to the AIA show this year? We’re a month away; my curiosity is centered on how attendance will be in a city like Denver vs. last year in D.C.
  • The drawings for the new Viking Stadium are out, and it looks to be an amazing structure. I love the use of glass!
  • Between my interview with Avi Bar and my article on Bowie Neumayer, the feedback has been off-the-charts awesome. So, I decided to crank out some more interviews and have two lined up for the next few weeks that I think you will really like. And my next one for Glass Magazine is going to be fun too!
  • In case you missed it, Guardian posted a very cool pre-GPD interview with Scott Thomsen. Being an ex-TV guy (who misses the business), I thought the way the graphics were edited really made this piece stand out.  If you want to check it out, it’s my video of the week.
  • As a marketing guy, I am jealous of the new ad that Kawneer put out in the latest Glass Magazine: creative and sharp. Great job and well done.
  • I know I noted it a few weeks ago, but I think it might have been heavily overshadowed by the Avi Bar interview: Please check out the Efficient Window Collaborative’s website.  It’s a tremendous resource.
  • Hey, wow! Gas prices are up (at all stations) because a single refinery had issues of some sort. Love that the oil industry can collude and price fix, and yet no one really cares.  Where are the ambulance chasers that harass innocent people in our industry to go take on big oil?
  • GlassBuild America registration is opening soon, and it will be here before you know it.  The show will be great this year; tons of momentum for it.
  • Happy Memorial Day to all, and especially to those who served. The words “courage” and “hero” sometimes get thrown around a little too loosely (by me too), but should really be dedicated to the men and women of the military who truly deserve those distinctions!
  • Last item: a sincere thank you. I am grateful for the support you show me and this blog.  I appreciate everyone who reads here, whether you like me or the blog, or not!  I still can’t believe I started this in 2005.  Feels like yesterday.

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

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 13, 2013

Architects and designers continue to push the envelope of glass and glazing, using more of it, in more innovative and exciting applications, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. We've featured some of these amazing, out-of-the-ordinary projects in Glass Magazine.

There was the United Oil #3 gas station in Gardena, Calif., that featured an all-glass storefront and entrance, in addition to a curved channel glass-clad tower, leading to the station's car wash.

And, there was the new sales office for Lazzara Yachts—the only floating glass project I have written about during my time at Glass Magazine.

We're looking to feature a selection of this type of out-of-the-ordinary glass projects in an upcoming issue of Glass Magazine. If you recently completed a project that features glass in an unconventional manner, let us know. Email me at with details and photos of the project. 

Devlin is senior editor for Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, May 13, 2013

The last several weeks, I have been hitting energy codes pretty heavily, and below, I have more of my interview with Avi Bar on that subject. But leading off this week is another code angle, and that’s the one of safety and security glass. As we push for energy improvements, we cannot take our eye off the protective glazing side. I think catastrophic events can spur action, but sometimes they draw attention to only a specific issue. So while there is a major focus on school security (as there should be), there still needs to be a sustained focus on the other areas of protective glazing, including fire rated. (One take of mine: no more wire, please.)

I believe our industry has a great handle on this product segment, but there’s still more education needed. If we still have people in the field who don't "get it," we fail as an entire industry. That said, I think Glass Magazine covered the issue perfectly this month with its edition on the entire protective glazing field, from the product basics all the way up to the advanced.  


  • I had the opportunity to listen to the latest construction industry economic forecast this past week, and for the most part, the analysts were in a very positive mood. Although acknowledging there will surely be bumps in the road, optimism ruled the day. However, one item did come up that bothered me: One analyst noted that if you want to build “green,” you have to build new. I disagree. With some of the technology our industry has out there, we can surely make a serious difference in a retrofit application. Once again, we need to educate!
  • As some of my loyal readers know, I loved the TV show “24.” Amazing stuff. Well, the news this week is that 24 and Jack Bauer might be coming back. Please make that happen. In the meantime, the show “The Americans” is now my favorite, though I am still five episodes behind.
  • Last week, my interview with Avi Bar, vice president of Advanced Glazings, really got people talking. This week, I wrap up our talk with a look at the architectural side of things.

In your dealings with architects and designers, are you finding that they are paying attention to the codes, or are they more focused on the products they want to use?

AB: My overall experience is that the architects and designers are becoming more aware of energy codes; however, [the codes] aren't easy to implement. The prescriptive methods don’t easily translate into their designs, and the modeling methodologies are complex to include in the first pass of designs. Therefore, it’s an ongoing, iterative process. There is a disconnect in the design community/owner relationship as fees for services continue to tighten while the technical competency for designers increases. The complexity of the analysis process that the architects are now bound to ... is a problem for them, and perhaps an opportunity for a proactive glass industry. The more stringent the code, the more anxiety I see in designers. This is a call for help to the glass and glazing industry to innovate and support them.  

A lot of the economic indicators for construction and architecture are trending upwards. Are you seeing the same thing?

AB: It’s hard for us to tell, as our products are not commodities and have seen an overall increase in business, even during the recession. With that said, our current demand is growing at a much higher rate. Is that due to better economic conditions? Or is it finally a signal that the market for high performance translucent glass is maturing? We can’t say. Perhaps a mix of both. All in all, we are optimistic.

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

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 6, 2013

My local public school system’s reaction to the horrific events of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., has been swift. Within days of the shooting, I received letters from both of my children’s schools stating that new security procedures had been put in place. Within weeks of the shooting, a new security system had been installed at both buildings. While on December 13, 2012, I could enter my child’s elementary school at any time of day, as of January 2013, I had to show identification before being buzzed in a front door that remained locked at all times. Discussions are currently underway as to how the school district can further secure its buildings, and similar conversations are taking place across the country.

“School districts are concerned about safety after the Sandy Hook shootings, and as a result, there is more emphasis on security strategies to keep children safe in case of an attack,” says Valerie Block, senior marketing specialist for DuPont. “Upgrading windows and doors with security glazing is being considered by a number of school districts, along with surveillance and alarm equipment, staff education and training, and emergency response procedures.”

S. 146, the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 is currently on the Senate calendar for review. Introduced in January 2013 by Sen. Barbara Boxer, the act “would authorize the appropriation of $40 million annually over the 2014-2023 period for the Department of Justice to make grants to state, local and tribal governments to improve security at elementary and secondary schools. Grants could be used to install metal detectors and surveillance equipment, train school personnel and students, and carry out other safety measures.”

For our part, “there may be one thing we in the American fenestration industry can do after the terrible event in Newtown, Conn., and the many irrational, violent shootings and bombings we’ve all witnessed over the past decades in this country,” says blogger Rod Van Buskirk. “As building product and construction professionals, we can offer greater safety by educating design professionals, building owners and public officials about threat-resistant products and design techniques.”

The “Architects’ Guide to Protective Glazing” is designed to further that education. It contains information on the security glazing products available—from ballistic glazing to fire-rated glass—including specifications, applications and product options.

Architecture will continue to play a role in securing our schools, whether in the form of new or retrofitted facilities. As Van Buskirk points out, educating the design community about security glazing products and applications is “obviously not the only step we need to take to improve public safety, but it is one step.”

Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine,, e-glass weekly and e-glass products. Write her at

Monday, May 6, 2013

I decided to take a slightly different approach to the blog this week. Before getting into the news, I have an extremely interesting interview with a guy who I consider to be one of the most fascinating people in our industry today. This week, I tracked down Avi Bar, vice president, architectural products, for Advanced Glazings, to get his take on the current code landscape. I met Avi two years ago and was extremely impressed by his intelligence and focus. When the code discussion started to heat up, I thought getting Avi’s opinion would be interesting. And after getting his answers, I have no doubt that this will surely get some people talking.

The building/energy code process continues to evolve. What is your take on where the codes are now, and where they are going?

Avi Bar: I think there are two primary shifts now in code: energy codes are getting stricter, and they are becoming mandatory vs. voluntary. The codes are reflecting rising energy costs and environmental challenges. The codes recognize that the building envelope plays a significant role in addressing these challenges; however, most [building envelope] advances have been predominantly incremental as we try to tweak existing technologies and materials. This, in turn, has resulted in incremental code changes. All the evidence, however, indicates that we need a more radical change in energy codes. This will be fed by two possible triggers: an event that creates more scarcity of fossil fuels, or breakthrough technologies to compete. We hope that the former doesn’t have to occur before the latter. There are materials such as ours [Solera daylighting solutions] that are making that true. In Europe, code tends to be more stringent and mandatory as energy costs are substantially higher, but the net result is better buildings, and more innovation and greater value is derived from the glass industry. Another point of interest is that energy metrics for buildings are now factoring quantifiable benefits to the use of daylighting, strategically as the primary lighting source during usable hours.

What’s your take on the ASHRAE issue and the ongoing discussion that is seemingly pretty active in our industry now?

Bar: Here is the basic premise. ASHRAE standards are driven by two primary conditions: higher energy costs and environmental stewardess. Both of these conditions are important and should not be ignored. Asking ASHRAE to relax rules and code will compromise buildings' ability to be sustainable from an environmental and financial standpoint.The codes are not going to get less stringent. The voluntary nature is not going to spread. Instead, I predict (as we can see everywhere else in the world), the codes will get more stringent and mandatory. We can sit and cry about it, or we can rise to the challenge.The issue the glass industry is trying to address is that most current glass products are based on a composition that is fundamentally flawed. Glass is a highly conductive material. Air in the units (or gasses, which are highly prone to leakage) are highly convective. Low-E is reaching its maximum value in reducing U-values. Spacers are highly conductive too. Therefore, the fundamental construct of glass is challenged, as its only potential improvement is incremental, even with triple-glazed units―which add cost due to additional material and installation costs. Over and above this, vision glass struggles to deal with daylighting ... since it introduces heat and glare unless controlled through shading devices, which adds more cost. So given these constraints, it’s obvious that the "nemesis /enemy" is the code. If you can't improve, then the code is too strict.

But that does not have to be the case. If we look at using innovation and technology to change the construct and paradigms of the glazing, we can retain our position on buildings. There is much work to be done in this realm, but it's not far off. Therefore, my recommendation is instead of blaming ASHRAE and seeking lobbying money to fight it, let's invest this money in innovating and lowering material costs.The glass industry needs to embrace two fundamental things: innovation and education throughout the value chain.


  • So is it me, or did the fact that the General Services Administration noting that they have been looking at LEED for “almost a year and half” just make you sad? Seriously, it should never take that long. Or am I missing something? Yes, they studied 160 tools and standards (there’s really that many? My goodness...), but does it take that long to eventually decide on the biggest and most prominent one?
  • A website for you to absolutely visit and bookmark: the Efficient Windows Collaborative has added to their already amazing site and it now is even better. The new window selection tool is tremendous. Kudos to Kerry Haglund and her team for once again raising the bar when it comes to educational resources.
  • While we’re in congratulatory mode, we’ll send some congrats out to Alissa Schmidt of Viracon for winning a Distinguished Alumni award from her alma mater Minnesota State-Mankato. Alissa represents our industry well and it’s great her efforts are being recognized!

Next week, part two of my interview with Avi, including where the architectural community weighs in on the code debate.

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

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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