Ebeid: Renaissance of a new, green glass age

Katy Devlin
February 23, 2009
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION : GREEN, MEETINGS AND EVENTS, SOLAR

The green movement, including the solar rush, will change the way glass companies do business, said Russell J. Ebeid, president, Glass Group, Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich., during a Feb. 16 presentation at the Building Envelope Contractors Conference in Las Vegas.

“While glass has been highly coveted for thousands of years, in a technological sense, this millennium will mark the renaissance of a new and different glass age,” Ebeid said. “We have to ask ourselves, are we in the glass business or are we in the environmental business and just happen to make glass?”

Glass companies that join in the green movement will come out on top, while “those who cling to the past risk becoming part of it,” he said.

The solar industry, in particular, offers opportunities for glass companies. However, company owners need to act wisely and ensure they back the best solar products. “We face a dot-com moment in time with all the hype for solar applications, Ebeid said. "We see a gold rush mentality by many who are oblivious to the Silicon Valley woes of the 80s. There are a lot of technology veins to mine, and it will take time to determine a winning strategy. There are some very real opportunities emerging in terms of solar glass, whether it be solar power or building integrated photovoltaics. Glass will play an integral role and may just change the way you do business.”

Despite recent momentum in the green movement, government mandates will likely be required to make green glazing and solar more widely accepted. “Mother Nature has to be compatible with Father Greed,” Ebeid said. “Like in the case of safety glass, insulating or coated glass, government mandates promote the most effective product acceptance. … People look at green products as a bonus and are less willing to pay the difference in price. This will change as energy prices rise and prices of technologies fall.”

Click here for the full keynote address.