Volume 29, Issue 3 - Fall 2015

News: Construction

Glazing in Construction Outlook
Nonresidential Market on the Rise through 2015 and Beyond

The glazing market continues to ascend, thanks to the steady increase in construction spending and the glass-friendly specifications pouring out of the architect and designer community.

According to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s 2014/2015 U.S. Industry Statistical Review and Forecast, the nonresidential glazing market increased by 4.6 percent in 2014 and is projected to jump another 5 percent through 2015.

In 2014, the market rose to 433 million square feet, from 414 million square feet in 2013. The increase over the past year was driven by curtainwall products and storefront applications, according to AAMA. Curtainwall increased by 6 percent, with storefront and site-fabricated products improving by 5 percent.

New construction was strong with a 6-percent gain, while renovation demand increased 2 percent—evidenced in the 2-percent bump in shop-fabricated windows.

AAMA forecasts increased growth in 2015, followed by an 8-percent increase in both 2016 and 2017.

Other Key Numbers

Looking at the architectural and construction industries as a whole, the numbers are positive. Three of the industry’s top indicators—the Architectural Billings Index, the Dodge Momentum Index and the Construction Backlog Indicator—all continue to show steady progress. Billings have been in the positive for almost all of the last year, and the Momentum Index and Backlog give the overall picture of an ascending industry over the last half-decade. (see page 12)

Something Else you Should Know

The glass industry and related sectors are bracing for a pending shortage. Viracon, a major fabricator in the U.S., recently issued a letter to its industry partners warning as much.

“The glass primaries within our industry have been very consistent in their messaging that we should expect glass shortages in early 2016,” writes Garret Henson, vice president of sales and marketing. “From our perspective, we see this to be very real.”

Viracon and other suppliers stress the importance of communication between all parties involved on a given project, including the architect.

Glass prices have also gone up, with Viracon also announcing an increase over the summer due to float glass and coated float glass price increases of 5-12 percent.

The challenge of cost in North America can differ depending on the region, according to Hartung Glass Canada general manager Bruce Butler. Butler says the last major price increase saw a 10 percent increase in the East but a 15-percent increase in the West—a 5-percent difference that he attributes to less population and more freight challenges.

Energy Still Trending

Energy efficiency continues to be a big driver in the architectural glazing community. Steve Fronek, vice president of technical services for Wausau Window and Wall Systems, says the demand for European-benchmark thermal performance in windows and curtainwall has been steadily increasing.

“However, the U.S. design aesthetic, which differs from its European counterpart in preference for flush frame profiles and narrow sightlines, is not being compromised in selection of more energy-efficient products,” he says.

He adds that triple glazing is becoming more commonplace in colder climate zones, and that commercial window designs must now accommodate heavier, thicker glass, “not only for improved energy efficiency, but also for acoustic performance and flatness, requiring sturdier AAMA AW Class life-cycle-tested products.”

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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