From the Fabricator: Silverberg Part Two and More

I won’t beat the horse any more in regards to code talk, but I will say that the amount of dialogue the wave of stories on the ASHRAE situation has generated has been wonderful. To me, that is all I can ask for.  




  • Well, the ABI's positive trend finally came to an end in April. Now we'll have to wait and see if this is a fluke or it means a light first quarter in 2014.
  • Speaking of reports, I saw the “CBI”  (Construction Backlog Indicator) for the first time recently. I swear, I need to start one of my own. Anyway, the CBI is 7 percent higher today than it was a year ago. So, take that as you will.
  • OK folks: who did the glass and aluminum on this job? It is being called the “greenest office building,” and this article notes the high energy efficient building envelope but does not mention whose products were used. So, check this link. And congrats to whomever had a hand in this.
  • I did finally finish the season of “The Americans,” and it did not disappoint. One of the best season finales I can remember. Can’t wait for next season!

Now, on to part two of my interview with Mark Silverberg of Technoform. Thank you to everyone who read last week, as it broke traffic records on the blog, which is very cool and appreciated.The following interview is longer than I would typically run, but I believe it to be worthwhile.

You were recently in Washington D.C. to follow up on bills like the Shaheen-Portman (Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act) and the Energy Efficient Commercial Building deduction known as 179D. How was your trip? Do you believe efforts like these will bear some positive fruit for our industry?

Mark Silverberg: We had good visits with key senators and engaging discussions on critical issues to our industry. Representatives of Guardian, Quanex, Technoform, the Glass Association of North America and the Aluminum Association (who were invited by Kawneer/Alcoa) participated in the hill visits. We met with the staffers of five key senators who serve on the influential Senate Finance Committee: Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Grassley (R-IA), Portman (R-OH) and Stabenow (D-MI). Our primary focus was renewal/extension of the 179D tax deduction due to expire at the end of 2013, which encourages the use of energy efficient materials in new and existing commercial buildings. It was only coincidence that the Shaheen-Portman bill was successfully voted out of committee the day of our visits. We can’t take credit for that! The Shaheen-Portman bill broadly addresses energy efficiency and job creation in our society, and enjoys wide support, while 179D applies more specifically to our industry. We explained that the commercial new construction and retrofit markets are among the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency savings in our society. If you upgrade the lighting or HVAC in a building you may gain 10 percent or so in energy savings. Add a building envelope retrofit and your energy savings can reach 40 percent to 44 percent. Plus, you can upgrade the air barrier for significant additional energy savings, and realize people productivity improvements of up to 150 percent or more. However, since developers don’t pay the energy bills, they aren’t going to fund extensive retrofits without substantial economic incentives.  The information we provided these key senators’ staffers was well received. In general, they were unaware of the economic, energy savings or well-being impacts of our industry.[There is] a need for the glass and glazing industry to speak as a coherent voice on major policy issues that broadly affect the health of our industry, and we’re clarifying how we want to address this.

I recently interviewed Avi Bar of Advanced Glazings, and one of his comments was that we as an industry need to embrace innovation and education. What do you think holds us back from doing these things?

Silverberg: Our industry has a tremendous history of innovation, but the technical complexity and interrelatedness of building systems strains the ability of many architects to understand and implement these solutions, thus the slow rate of market adoption. In private buildings, the developers' focus is on lowest first-installed cost rather than long-term operating costs, while the tenants pay the energy bills and cost of poor worker productivity. Our code adoption and enforcement is patchwork at best and lacks a coherent strategy. The Shaheen-Portman bill begins to address these gaps. The prescriptive path of code compliance is an impediment to creating energy efficient buildings since it lacks a holistic, integrated design approach with effective modeling tools. The key to moving forward is effective collaboration with key stakeholders and industry associations to solve the increasingly complex challenges of the buildings of today and the future. We shouldn’t wait for others to do it for us.

Technoform is a worldwide company, so you see action from all over the globe. Are there products/systems/codes/attitudes in other parts of the world with regards to energy efficiency that we need to adopt immediately?

Silverberg: Every country and region is unique, but there are some best practices to learn from. Over 30 countries now monitor their building energy use rating and disclosure. This is similar to what New York City is implementing, and a step in the right direction. Also, some U.S. cities are implementing building energy certification, which also helps. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Code policy is a patchwork quilt in the U.S., and enforcement is even worse. National model building codes need to be strengthened, and the code-writing process needs to be more transparent. Other countries have overcome these challenges, and we should too. The definition of sustainable buildings and communities is expanding from life-cycle analysis of energy and environmental impact to include human well-being metrics. I will participate in a global conference on this topic to be held in Cleveland in 2014. There are great examples of projects and collaboration both in the U.S.and the world over, and we’ll need much more cooperation and collaboration to solve the complex challenges that we face. The key issue is to clarify our commitment, and affect planning, to design and build better buildings that use less energy where humans can flourish.

Read on for links and video 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.


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