Life Cycle Assessment Tops Agenda at IGMA Winter Conference

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
March 10, 2014
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION : MEETINGS AND EVENTS

More than 100 attendees gathered in San Francisco last week for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance 2014 Winter Conference. The meeting included several days of committee and task group meetings, followed by two days of educational seminars.

In addition to the group’s extensive technical activities, the meeting agenda included discussion of Life Cycle Assessment for windows and processed glass, safety glazing and changes at the association.

Life Cycle Assessment

As it has done in several recent industry events, life cycle assessments for windows topped discussions during the first day of the conference. During the Emerging Technology and Innovation Committee meeting, Helen Sanders, vice president of technical business development at SAGE Electrochromics Inc., provided an update on the advancement of LCA activities in the industry, and emphasized the importance of LCA for the industry.

“The market is asking for this. The architects are asking for this,” Sanders said.

Driving the move for LCA on the commercial side, in part, is the newest version of LEED, which includes points for projects that include at least 20 permanently installed products that have LCA environmental product declarations. On the residential side, many big box stores are requesting EPDs from manufacturers.Several attendees added that code and standard bodies are also likely to include requirements for LCA in the future.

IGMA is part of a joint industry task group that is developing a method to determine the life cycle energy costs of a window, from cradle to grave. The group, which also includes the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Glass Association of North America and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, has been working to develop the product category rules (PCR) necessary for conducting the LCA.

The primary road block for the task group has been determining the “use phase” portion of the assessment. The use phase is the energy cost of a window throughout its installed life. “It is important that we get this right, as it is going to dominate the LCA [for windows],” Sanders said.

The joint task group initially looked to energy modeling tools to determine the “use phase,” but has opted instead for regression equations that would provide an estimate of a product’s 30-year “use phase” energy based on a set of equations that take into account the product type, along with project type and climate zone. “Instead of running a building energy model for every product you have, you will now just use a set of equations,” Sanders described.

The joint task group’s next steps include: developing regression equations for daylighting; developing a method of determining LCA dynamics; choosing models and developing a method for sloped glazing; and bringing the PCR document to an expert panel for review.

Sanders reminded attendees that, once the joint task group finalizes the PCR for windows, individual manufacturers will have to use the PCR to complete life cycle assessments on their own products. “Once we have the PCRs, you have to go out and have someone do the LCA and get it approved,” she said.

In addition to developing a PCR for windows, IGMA is working with GANA on developing a PCR for processed glass. The group is currently looking for the PCR to include: coated glass (offline coating/sputtered processes); processed glass (tempered, laminated and insulating); and coated glass that is heat treated.

Safety glazing

The issue of safety was a major theme at the conference, with a special presentation on safety glazing, and another on workplace safety.

Julia Schimmelpenningh, global applications manager, Eastman, delivered a technical presentation on day two of the conference, "Safety Glazing: Does it make the cut?" While safety glazing is increasing in demand, safety glazing standards have remained relatively unchanged for almost 50 years, Schimmelpenningh said.

“More community facilities, mixed-use structures, condominium buildings with shopping on lower levels are all putting demands on safety glass,” she said. “Hotels are using more glass in lobbies and rooms. Schools are using a lot more glass, and you have to increase the safety.”

The architectural safety glazing standard, ANSI Z97.1, was published in 1966, but hasn’t been updated, Schimmelpenningh said. The industry needs to push for more advancement on the safety glazing, in terms of the standards as well as products. “You are never going to stop glass from breaking. You have to know how it breaks and what you can do to keep people safe if it does break,” she said.

Read a related article from Schimmelpenningh on safety glass in schools, from November 2013 Glass Magazine.  

IGMA news

During the Annual General Meeting, the members voted on three new board members: Bill Briese, R&D engineering manager for GED Integrated Solutions; Robert Grommesh, IG technical service manager at Cardinal IG; and Jeff Haberer, technical manager for Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions.

The group also announced the launch of a web store for its wide range of documents, and the addition of a comprehensive industry calendar to its web site.