From the Fabricator: Read and Consider

Undoubtedly, you have seen a lot about the ongoing ASHRAE code situation. Without question, it is a serious situation. But I have decided that as much as I love to try to mobilize people to action, I'm going to take a different approach. I have an interview below that truly spells out the facts in a calm and measured way. If you care about the industry and your business, you’ll take the proper action. If not, you’ll enjoy the interview nonetheless, and life will go on. Thank you for the consideration.

For this, I reached out to who I believe is one of the most dynamic and interesting guys in our industry, Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America, to get his take on this and a few other issues. I believe he hit it out of the ballpark. Mark has an incredible grasp of our world, our needs and our future. To me, Mark―along with Dr. Tom Culp―are the two guys you want at the table explaining this stuff to you and representing your industry. Below is a sharp and professional explanation of the facts and what actions could be taken. So, if you didn’t understand what was going on before, I believe you surely will now.

Probably the most important issue that has hit our industry recently is the ASHRAE proposal to reduce the glazing area allowed in the prescriptive path from 40 percent window-to-wall ratio to 30 percent WWR for buildings under 25,000 square feet. This seems detrimental to our industry, as less glass and glazing means less work, etc. What is your take on why this is happening, and what can we do as an industry to combat it?

Silverberg: "This proposal has broad economic and policy implications. Building energy efficiency is widely supported as the right thing to do, but how to get there and balance the related issues is often debated. Ironically, this proposal flies in the face of the ASHRAE 189.1 green building standard that is specifically intended to address both occupant well-being and energy efficiency. The driver of this change is recent computer modeling that got the attention of some ASHRAE individuals. Many people in our industry find these analytical tools outmoded and based on flawed assumptions. Keep in mind the following factors must be addressed, in this order, to optimize a building’s energy efficiency performance: (1) Optimize mass and orientation (2) Optimize the building envelope (3) Design and optimize the building systems and infrastructure.

Below, I offer a few examples of my serious concerns with the analytical method on which the proposed WWR reduction is based. The information is from Rahul Athalye of PNNL’s presentation at the GANA Annual Conference Energy Day in January 2013 and the questions I asked him during the session. He is one of the lead simulators whose work is being used by ASHRAE.

  • Responding to my direct question, Mr. Athalye reported that the same building footprint and orientation was used for all 12 locations analyzed. This negates optimization of building mass and orientation (the principal determinant of a building’s energy efficiency), and doesn’t make common sense.
  • Only 40 percent of the typical 53,600-square-foot building was in perimeter zones of only 15 feet deep. Modern design and daylighting strategies attain a much higher percentage of the daylighted floor plate and have greater depth. In the analysis, only 80 percent of this artificially reduced perimeter zone is deemed daylightable.
  • With only 40 percent of the building deemed within the perimeter zone, only 56 percent of that area was included in the daylight analysis as containing photocontrols (80 percent daylightable perimeter zone minus private offices under 250 square feet, which were excluded). However, this does not reflect the improvements to ASHRAE 189.1 that require photocontrols in more spaces and higher performance windows! Since building systems are interactive, it’s easy to see that by negating the performance contribution of mass and orientation, and minimizing the gains of daylighting, you will skew the conclusions of the study.

These are but a few of the issues with this analysis; there are plenty more. One of the stated goals of the DOE-funded PNNL study was, “possible changes to ASHRAE 90.1 to increase energy savings.” None of the primary goals of the study related to measuring the impact of buildings on human beings. Certainly, energy efficiency is very important to nearly everyone nowadays. It’s one of the main benefits brought by Technoform’s products and technologies to commercial fenestration and insulated glass. But if energy efficiency were the sole driver of healthy buildings, we would live in caves or buried in the ground. Several studies have measured and documented that for people to thrive and be healthy, their space (for work, learning, living) should provide daylighting (with proper glare control), a view of nature, and an ability to control access to fresh air. Finding a balance between energy efficiency and human well-being is the key, though how you specifically attain this balance varies by climate zone, building use, the goals of the owner, etc.

In my appraisal, the analysis on which the WWR debate is based on is too narrow of a perspective; human beings are left out. As an industry, it’s critical that we file comments prior to the June 17 deadline on why we disagree with the proposal to reduce glazing area. Stick to the flaws you find in the proposal, and don’t criticize ASHRAE or any particular people or industries. And collaborate through our trade associations, who are coordinating industry action."

Note that last line: the various trade organizations are working on this, and if you are interested in this process, you can and should contact those groups (NGA, GANA, AAMA, IGMA, AEC, etc.)

Next week, I catch up with Mark about his visit to Washington D.C., energy efficiencies throughout the globe, and educating the industry. Really insightful stuff you will not want to miss.

Read on for links and clip 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

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.


This looks like a job for....THE CURTAIN WALL COALITION!!

Love the passion John. Thanks for reading!

You can always count on me, Max! :-)

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