Busy Greenbuild reflects growth of green movement

John Swanson
November 21, 2008
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : GREEN

While other trade shows might be struggling, the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, Nov. 19-21, in Boston was bursting at the seams. With more than 25,000 attendees crowding the aisles of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the show provided evidence that demand for green is “real,” as one window manufacturer noted.

Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale, Calif., based company now offering high-performance glass, windows and doors incorporating Heat Mirror film, is “sold out” for the coming months and looking to add capacity to meet growing demand, said Kevin Surace, president & CEO. The market is ready for the next generation of products that exceed typical dual-pane low-E performance, he said.

The show featured a significant number of exhibitors on the commercial side of the fenestration business. Kawneer, Norcross, Ga., showed how one of its curtain wall systems could be adapted to incorporate solar shades, light shelves, solar panels and other options designed to make buildings more energy efficient. Schüco, Germany, also showed a variety of curtain wall and window products incorporating solar panels, ventilation options and shading devices.

Viracon, Owatonna, Minn., Oldcastle Glass, Santa Monica, Calif., and Southwall Technologies, Palo Alto, Calif., showcased different high-performance glazing options. Sage Electrochromics Inc., Faribault, Minn., highlighted how its electronically tintable glazing could deliver high overall energy efficiency to buildings by providing both a low solar heat gain coefficient when needed and maximum daylighting.

Numerous companies highlighted their involvement in green projects. Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis., highlighted the fact that it just completed a move into a new facility that met LEED silver level certification requirements.

PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, focused on its participation—supplying glass, paints and coatings—in a demonstration project entitled “High Performance School of the Future, Today.” The company touted how energy modeling studies by an independent firm show that substituting Solarban 70XL glass for dual-pane tinted glass in a standard one-story middle school can cut heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment costs by up to $125,000. Annual energy costs can be lowered by as much as $17,000, or more than 5 percent per year, with even greater cost savings in larger buildings.

Residential window manufacturers at the show included Andersen, Bayport, Minn., Jeld-Wen, Klamath Falls, Ore., Kolbe Windows & Doors, Wausau, Wis., Marvin Windows and Doors, Warroad, Minn., Nana Wall Systems, Mill Valley, Calif., and Pella Corp., Pella, Iowa. Most touted messages extending beyond energy efficiency, however. Andersen’s Robert Saxler, marketing manager, noted his company was featuring a new glass option for Southern climates, designed to offer the same solar gain performance of its previous product, but with better visible light transmission.

The show featured a handful of industry suppliers. Technoform, Twinsburg, Ohio, highlighted the enhanced performance offered by its thermal struts in aluminum window and door systems and its TGI warm-edge spacer. BASF, which supplies polyisobutylene used in the TPS thermoplastic spacer system produced by Kömmerling in Germany and sold by Adco, Lincolnshire, Ill., demonstrated the benefits of triple-glazing using the process. While the system has only seen limited adoption in North America, BASF’s Art Finkle reported that it is enjoying widespread use in Europe.

Greenbuild covered a broad spectrum of the market, with a wide array of products on display, ranging from the latest in solar technology to reclaimed wood products. Not surprisingly, exhibitors included a strong contingent of solar power and solar heating products, including manufacturers of PV modules and mounting systems. Shading devices, louvers and other accessories designed to make commercial building walls more efficient were also featured in numerous booths.

USGBC’s event has grown rapidly since its inception in 2002 and it was clear that the show could be much larger too, given the fact that many relatively large manufacturers were confined to relatively small booths. Next year, Greenbuild moves to Phoenix where it is scheduled to run from November 11-13.