'Extreme makeover': City edition

Jenni Chase
May 19, 2010

Recladding is going to change the face of our cities, says Elliot Kracko, chairman and CEO of Gamma International, with U.S. offices in New York City and Miami. “This year, the trend is beginning to accelerate, as owners and developers look to capitalize on upgrades rather than new construction,” he says.

Increasingly, owners of high-rise commercial and residential buildings are looking to make their properties more attractive to tenants and obtain a greater return on their assets by replacing or resurfacing the exterior building skins, Kracko says in his article. In the New York City metropolitan area alone, 10-15 buildings will be reclad in coming years, worth some $200 million to $300 million in construction spending, according to Gamma USA estimates.

Aesthetics and energy efficiency will play a vital role in these recladding efforts, providing design opportunities for architects, and the chance to sell and install value-added products for the glass industry.

Contributing to that opportunity will be the anticipated growth in green building retrofits. As Trends & Analysis explores, 86 percent of commercial building owners expect the green retrofit market to grow, with half expecting it to increase 20 percent or more over just three years, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s SmartMarket Report, “Green Building Retrofit and Renovation,” available on www.construction.com.

Demand for high-performance window retrofits, in particular, is anticipated to increase as owners look to lower building lifecycle costs, according to the report.

The glass industry is already beginning to capitalize on this trend, introducing new products and tackling high-profile retrofit projects. J.E. Berkowitz of Pedricktown, N.J., for example, in collaboration with Edgetech I.G., Cambridge, Ohio, recently spun off a new division called Renovate by Berkowitz to offer a technology that uses existing single-pane units to create an energy-efficient, triple-pane system. The system is designed to be retrofitted over existing glass from the interior of the building for minimal disruption of tenants.

And while contract glaziers continue to rely primarily on new construction, the percentage of renovation projects is beginning to increase among some of Glass Magazine’s 50 Glaziers. At Harmon Inc., Minneapolis, renovations accounted for 15 percent of its commercial business in 2009, compared to just 5 percent in 2008. At Architectural Glass & Aluminum Co., Alameda, Calif., the new construction vs. renovation ratio went from 95:5 in 2008 to 90:10 in 2009. For more analysis on the subject, look for the upcoming 50 Glaziers issue in June.

Jenni Chase is editorial director of Glass Magazine, e-glass weekly and GlassMagazine.com. Write her at jchase@glass.org.