glassblog

Monday, July 13, 2015

Good economic news keeps coming our way. Construction spending in May broke the trillion-dollar mark, giving us the third straight trillion-dollar spend and the sixth month in a row that there’s been growth. May was very strong, as the last month with a better mark was way back in the glory days of October 2008. That of course was pretty much the last good month we had before the slide came. As we sit now, however, the “slide” doesn’t look apparent. Though concerns about the dollar, world unrest, and the financial health of Puerto Rico and Greece surely sit as a reminder that things can change quickly.

Elsewhere…

  • Saw an interesting study on the fact that larger office buildings are taking more advantage of green building practices than smaller. So I am curious. Why do you think that is? Scale? Cost? Ego? I just find it surprising because the study shows that less than 5 percent of US office buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet are qualified as green. I guess I can also question the study because smaller offices may be green or even more "green" than any standard, but choose to save money and not be certified. But I just find the big vs. small angle interesting.
  • I pretty much prop the great work from Glass Magazine every month, but this latest issue is different. This content is off-the-charts incredible. Great columns, great insights and amazing projects to look at with the Glass Magazine Awards section. And once again, in what is becoming my favorite section, the “Here’s an Idea…” piece was stellar with a look at AGNORA’s health and fitness efforts. Great work.
  • And while I’m being biased towards this excellent magazine, I should add that my ad of the month is the one for GlassBuild America. Loved the format and layout of it featuring a question/answer set up. Go check it out; it gets you thinking, and those who “get it” will be on the floor at the show ensuring they don’t end up like companies in the Question.
  • How cool was the US Women’s Soccer team winning the World Cup? I loved it. I don’t watch sports like I used to, so this was a really enjoyable one to take in. And a 5-2 soccer game? That just never happens in that sport.
  • I just started to watch the new mini-series on CNN called “The Seventies” and it’s tremendous. The first episode was about TV and they spent quite a bit of time on the shows of that era. Most notably “All in the Family.” After watching clips of that, it dawned on me that show, which was so groundbreaking, could never happen today. It’s pretty mind boggling if you think about it. Anyway, if you want excellent one-hour looks back at that decade, check it out.

Read on for the video of the week...

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

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

Monday, July 6, 2015

As the Baby Boom generation leaves the workforce, the construction and fenestration industries are feeling the effects. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that between April 2006 and January 2011, the construction industry cut its workforce by more than 40 percent, eliminating 2.3 million jobs. On top of this, skilled professionals are retiring and taking their knowledge bases with them.

Construction in the commercial sector is especially in need. NASDAQ reported in June that there’s a race going on to find quality craft workers in the field.

So, what would turn things around? What does any industry need to flourish? Trained labor to properly manufacture and install quality products. With this trend taking place across our industry along with others, there’s more of a need for training than ever before. Companies may be unsure of where to go for such crucial skill building since the trade schools of our parents’ days are practically extinct as more young adults are pushed to community colleges rather than trade schools. To really stand out from the competition, companies and individuals may wish to validate their experience with certification credentials.

As the labor force continues to dwindle, companies may need to re-think their training budgets. Apprenticeships and peer training are less likely to be relied upon in the coming years of business, as workloads increase and trained employees leave the field. Plans of attack for this issue can vary, but one thing is clear: a fully-trained staff is the bedrock of any successful enterprise, but especially an industry that relies so heavily on the importance of products being created and installed safely and properly.

Companies can look to the industry associations for support in training. For example, understanding the need for industry education, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association has made training a priority. The association started its educational efforts with the InstallationMasters program that helps installers avoid costly callbacks, improve energy efficiency and work more effectively while optimizing both time and money. This goes a long way to maximizing product benefits for happier, more satisfied customers. While the two-day program focuses on residential information, it does include education about light commercial installation as well.

Expanding into the non-residential market, the Commercial InstallationMasters program is based upon the AAMA document, Standard Practice for the Installation of Windows and Doors in Commercial Buildings. The training includes accepted installation techniques, job site safety, quality control, proper material selection and installation of components, as well as product care and cleaning. Architects, building owners, construction managers and general contractors can be assured that Certified Commercial Installers have been properly trained and have met the certification program requirements.

What is your company’s strategy for coping with ongoing labor shortage? Let us know in the comments.

Angela Dickson is marketing manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. She can be reached at Adickson@aamanet.org.

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 6, 2015

A bit of an odd week as a couple of emotional things occurred. First the news of the passing of long-time industry rep Pat McIntosh really threw me for a loop. Pat was an excellent man, always friendly and dedicated, and always smiling when I saw him. He will truly be missed. My condolences to Pat’s family and friends.

Also, right before the holiday, the NFRC announced that CEO Jim Benney left the organization. As many of you know, I’ve battled the NFRC for more than 10 years and many times drove Jim up the wall--even debated him once in Boston at a trade show. Despite me being a true pain in the rear, Jim always treated me well and always kept a cool and calm composure. I am not sure where Jim will end up next, but I wish him only the best. It's interesting that in the same week the USGBC had their CEO resign as well. Could Jim be headed there?! Crazier things have happened…

Elsewhere…

  • My last post on the issue of birds and glass was one of my most popular posts ever. Obviously this is an issue that is more intense than I realized. I heard from so many diverse people, both in and out of the industry, and got tremendous leads and insights on the process. The best part was people really wanting to be a part of a solution, and that was nice. In the meantime I plan on staying on this and learning more (and sharing here of course) from some of the new friends I just made.
  • Congrats to my friends at GGI on the launch of their new website. What a fantastic piece of work there.
  • Also congrats go out to my old co-worker and friend Scott Goodman on his new gig with AGC. Good to see him land there and probably get to work with another old friend Matt Ferguson. That would be a fun road trip to be on if those two make calls together.
  • I have to stress that if you are on Twitter and you are not following Glass Magazine, you need to stop what you are doing right now and do so. For every big event the live tweeting is so great and so informative. This week was the AAMA conference and once again I felt like I was there. Great to get the flavor and no other feed comes close to the live content that Glass Magazine’s provides.
  • Last this week, if you watched and liked the show “The Men Who Built America” then you will probably like the new one out called “American Genius.” Same sort of historical look at the men and women who made their marks on many facets of our lives. Some episodes better than others (the Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates one was not great), but still worth the watch if you enjoy history and the analysis of it.

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

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

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

I had a feeling the issue of bird protective glazing was going to be a big one this year, and it surely has been. And now with the latest news from Duke University, our industry has to be even more prepared to deal with some of the blowback. Before I get into the last part, I will admit that I struggled last year with the process and intentions on some of the bird-related issues surrounding the Minnesota football stadium. In the end, I surely misread the situation and the objectives of the people involved who wanted consideration for the bird population that will be affected by the structure. So it’s been a learning experience for sure.

Now fast forward to this past week and to where our industry now has to be prepared. At Duke University, one of the “green” buildings on campus is being blamed for the 85 bird deaths during three migration periods in the last year. There are many ways I can go with this story, but I’ll just say this: There are options for bird-friendly glazing. And it’s time for the focus to go from the glass being an issue to the glass being a solution. The owner/architect needs to be on some of the hooks here. The materials are there, and the designer needs to take into account bird migration paths and design accordingly. While you’ll see in the linked article that glass is listed as the bad guy, I sincerely hope that we as an industry can stand up and note that it simply shouldn’t be all on us.

Elsewhere…

  • By the way, I have to think Julie Schimmelpenningh, who brought the issue of bird protection up years and years ago at a GANA meeting to mostly giggles, has to be shaking her head right now and saying “I told you so…”
  • An interesting new market study was just released about the glass industry. According to a blurb from a study by Grand View Research Inc., the global flat glass market will register a compound annual growth rate of 7.1 percent over the next seven years. It noted “High performance flat glass will drive the market.”  Wow.
  • I am trying to raise my level of organization. I have cleaned my desk with the goal of it looking like Russ Ebeid’s. (His desk, perfectly clear; with me, it will never happen, but I will try.) I am also trying to go “Inbox Zero” with my emails. Slowly but surely I am getting there. I know a few of you are doing the “Inbox Zero” thing, so any other tips are welcomed.
  • Just wrapping up my search for someone in the industry with an Apple Watch. Tom Lee of Lee & Cates hit me up on Twitter to say he has one, so he’s the visionary! I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing him at GlassBuild America to see how it is still going. Meanwhile, I did hear through the grapevine that my good friend Kris Vockler also has one. That does not surprise me as Kris is always on the cutting edge of everything.
  • Last this week, gas prices are going back up. My guess is $4 in most places by mid July. I know that the low prices had some negative effects on the economy, but man I enjoyed it personally.

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

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

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

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 jbenney@nfrc.org.

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 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 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.

Elsewhere….

  • 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 GlassMagazine.com, 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 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.

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 jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

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

Monday, 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.

Elsewhere…

  • 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 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 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 kdevlin@glass.org.
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