Glass Performance Tops Discussion at NGA/Architectural Record Webinar

Glass Magazine
July 29, 2019

A panel of glass industry and façade experts addressed glass and glazing’s critical role in achieving building performance, occupant health and wellness, and design goals during the July 24 webinar, “Professional Roundtable: Perspectives on Glass and Glazing in Design.” The webinar, sponsored by the National Glass Association and hosted by Architectural Record, is part of the new Glass & Glazing Design Academy, developed by the NGA in partnership with Architectural Record. 

Webinar attendees heard various perspectives on the use of glass from Nick Bagatelos, founder and president of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems; Thomas Culp, engineering and strategic consultant and owner of Birch Point Consulting; James O’Callaghan, senior director, Eckersley O’Callaghan; and Dan Weissman, senior associate and director of Lam Labs, Lam Partners, Architectural Lighting Design. Urmilla Sowell, advocacy and technical director for the National Glass Association, served as moderator.

Topping discussions was the industry’s ongoing battle against attempts to reduce the amount of glass and glazing on buildings. Such attempts—including New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s recent well-publicized statements about reducing glass in buildings as part of the city’s Green New Deal—result from a continued misconception that glass is a poor energy performer, panelists say. In fact, glass is key to producing high-performing buildings that meet energy performance goals in addition to wellness and occupant comfort goals, they say.

“We use glass to have light in buildings. We need it psychologically. … We need it for the reduction of energy use in our buildings,” says O’Callaghan. “I’m not advocating that glass is the answer to everything, but it plays an important part in architecture in terms of what we need to do.”

Panelists advocated for holistic considerations of building performance, looking at the façade in conjunction with factors such as HVAC, and building orientation and location. “We need to be looking at each building footprint on its own terms,” says Weissman.

Achieving higher performance also requires the use of the higher performing glass and glazing products. “With glass, we have the opportunity to offer views and all the benefits of glazing, but also be energy efficient,” adds Culp. “The technology is there. We have new advanced thermal breaks, new [low-emissivity] coatings, even vacuum glazing. We just have to get a point where it’s being used.”

One major challenge for the glass industry has been ensuring that high-performing products are not only specified into a project, but that they remain through construction. “How do we get [decision makers] to keep advanced thermal breaks, to keep argon gas? How do we get them to keep high-performance energy technology? And how do we convey the financial ramifications of value engineering these out—the lost time, lost productivity; the health care costs, the real estate values?” asks Culp.

The NGA's Glass & Glazing Design Academy is made available to architects and industry professionals through a partnership with Architectural Record. The academy will be hosted online in Architectural Record’s Continuing Education Center and will feature nine one-hour LU/HSW accredited courses. The courses, which were developed by NGA and its member volunteers, cover a range of topics including insulating glass, laminated glass, protective glazing, fire-rated glazing, decorative glass, and more. Courses are available at no charge and participants completing all nine courses will earn a Glass & Glazing Design badge.

Read more about the Glass & Glazing Design Academy.