Volume 41, Issue 4 - April 2006

Full Capacity
GANA's BEC Conference Draws Record Crowds

by Charles Cumpston

The Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference took place February 26-28 at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with a capacity crowd of 420 people. 

Many more would like to have attended, but GANA officials in Topeka, Kan., had closed registration for the event the week before when the number of attendees hit the maximum that the hotel could accommodate.

"The pace of our time is so fast that most subcontractors don’t realize when they have hit deal breakers."
- Rick Greenleaf

A strong educational program is part of what has made this a must-attend industry event for contract glaziers and their suppliers.

Max Perilstein of Arch Aluminum & Glass, BEC division chairperson, opened the program by introducing keynote speaker Steven Little, a business consultant who discussed keys to sustained business growth. He said people—the lack of them—is the problem. There are more jobs being created than there are new workers to fill them, he told attendees. 

He then shared methods companies have used to achieve sustained growth. An organization has to have a sense of purpose and its leaders are responsible for setting that purpose. He said it has to be disseminated throughout the company and that requires planning. He stressed that people have to be in the plan, and also in the planning. “The best planning comes from the working level and rises to the top. It can’t start at the top and be shoved down people’s throats,” he said.

Industry Issues
Following the keynote presentation, the conference moved on to industry issues.

Bob Leyland, vice president of sales for Kawneer North America, made a presentation about industry innovations over the past century. Coincidentally, the company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. 

He told attendees that the industry has always made products that look toward the future and also improve quality of life for people, for example, by improving safety and increasing recyclables. 

“It’s interesting that two of the primary materials our industry uses, glass and aluminum, can be recycled.” He also made the point that during the past century it has taken an average of 26 years for an innovation to come into common use.

Leyland closed by saying that safety and security and energy efficiency are driving the market today and they are opening up opportunities for the industry to continue to offer solutions. He said the future will bring more ultra-thermal products and more use of dual skin curtainwalls. “When we look back, we see how important change and innovation are, and this continues into the future,” he stated. 

Greg Carney, GANA technical director, and Joel Smith of Arch Aluminum & Glass and the GANA National Fenestration & Rating Council (NFRC) liaison committee chair, lead a discussion on the NFRC’s proposed non-residential certification program. Both Carney and Smith have been very active in representing the industry in NFRC’s attempt to establish this program.

According to Smith, GANA is striving to make the program cost-effective.

“Our goal is to get you involved in this issue. Unless we challenge it, this program will impose heavy financial burdens on all of us, but particularly the contract glaziers,” he said.

“Our industry is not opposed to the development of a whole system product calculation for fenestration products,” he continued. Beyond this component modeling program, NFRC is proposing that the final calculation, and the product be further simulated, validated and certified, possibly on-site, by for-profit testing labs. “This is the line in the sand,” he stated. “This is what we oppose.”

He added, “You are going to pay for a performance calculation and for simulation testing and for on-site inspection.”

GANA wants accredited users to be able to access NFRC software for whole system performance calculation and does not want on-site inspections to be required. He said that few contract glaziers have taken part in the debate on this subject and it is this group that will be responsible for it once it is implemented.

Carney gave examples of what costs would be based on the program that is currently being proposed. These ranged from 16 cents-per-square foot of fenestration area to 80 cents, depending on the size of the project.

“The responsibility of this program is going to be on someone’s shoulders and we believe it is going to be the glazing contractor,” Carney stated. “We think these charges are excessive and are going to make the decision-making process change for builders. Because of increased costs, they are going to meet specs rather than exceed them.” Carney, who served as the chairperson of the NFRC non-residential products task group (ratings), made the point that GANA is calling on the Department of Energy for additional oversight of NFRC.

Take a Break
The morning ended with Chris Barry’s discussion of why glass sometimes breaks. Barry heads technical services for Pilkington North America, and his presentation was a technical look at glass breakage.

Glass breaks, Barry explained, when an applied load exceeds the strength of the glass. The big question is: Was the load too great or was the glass too weak? He then spent his time exploring this question. In some of his examples the glass caused the breakage and in others the load was the cause. The clues, he said, are in how the glass cracks.

The afternoon’s educational program opened with a presentation by Stephen Selkowitz of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory about the glass industry’s impact on energy usage and the various factors that influence energy efficiency and comfort.

He made the point that many mostly glass buildings are making “green” claims, but he asked, how energy efficient are they really? He said it is important to integrate the façade with the lighting and HVAC to maximize energy efficiency. If an energy-efficient curtainwall is installed but occupants close the blinds to avoid glare and keep the lights on, the energy usage is not what it might appear to be.

He pointed to a number of current projects that have advanced integrated energy systems. One is the San Francisco Federal Building, which has natural ventilation; another is the New York Times headquarters building, an all-glass tower, which has an integrated shading system as well as other energy efficient techniques.

He also focused on the role of effective shading in making an energy efficient, user-friendly building. His laboratory was involved in the research work for the Times building regarding design issues.

One of the building’s design goals was to maximize natural light and a view so every place in the building afforded employees both. He described the procedure Times officials went through to determine the most effective design for the structure. A 4,000-square-foot mock up was constructed because the company thought it would learn enough from it to more than pay for the expense in construction savings.

Selkowitz stated, “Since I’ve argued why glare and solar control are so important, why not integrate this function into the glazing?” He explained that with electrochromic and photovoltaic technology, this could be done.

The issues for glazing contractors, he said, are the design integration, the wiring, thermal expansion, construction sequencing and coordination with HVAC and lighting trades. He said that in the future, more owners will be more involved in setting requirements for building envelope performance. This would bring the façade suppliers into the process earlier because of the integrated approach that is necessary.

Structural Durability
Larry Carbary of Dow Corning discussed durability performance, standards and specifications in silicone structural glazing. “I want to convey why structural silicone glazing works,” he said. He covered the durability of the materials used, the correlation of laboratory testing to full-scale testing and a review of the loads put on the materials during wind and seismic events. He also gave project reviews of in-service buildings and the environments in which they exist.

LEED-er of the Pack
Michael Duffy of HNTB Federal Services Corp. gave a presentation on the LEED points system. He explained the math for determining LEED certification and also gave a sample of sustainable work and explained how LEED is relevant to contract glaziers.

He said that LEED is becoming more popular because it can save owners money without reducing quality. For the glass industry, glazing is a key for LEED—think natural light and its benefits, he told attendees.

Duffy encouraged people to study the LEED manual and take the test to become accredited because this would allow them to discuss how the services their companies offer can help the owners and designers achieve certification. 

Tickle Me Aero
Larry Long of Texas Wall Systems Inc. discussed building ventilation. He pointed out that, in response to owner and designer requests, the industry has developed structures that are effective at keeping elements out, such as air and water. This has resulted in more recirculated air which has caused health issues for occupants. He said that trickle ventilation systems could be utilized to let air in without sacrificing the energy efficiency of the building. 

Final Presentations
The last day of the conference opened with a discussion of claims preservation and mitigation by Rick Greenleaf and Julie Earnest of Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti, a Colorado-based law firm.

“As bad as you thought it was in the 1980s, it got worse in the ‘90s, and it’s going to get worse still,” Greenleaf told attendees in discussing the legal wranglings between owners/developers and contractors. “The sides just keep getting further apart,” he added, “and we have to stop it.” He advised creating a subcontractor contracting policy that would consist of stopgaps glaziers refuse to accept. “The pace of our time is so fast that most subcontractors don’t realize when they have hit deal breakers,” he said. 

Earnest went through the different preservation of claims issues with suggestions on questions that a company has to resolve. (Is the contract too complex, with too many deadlines? Are you going to take on too much responsibility? Are you going to waive claims?)

In discussing project management, she said that the project manager has to be familiar with the contract, so that when situations arise, he or she has more complete information for making a decision. Also, she said to keep a jobsite and dispute file so that when there are disputes, the attorneys have a place to go to find out what happened.

Greenleaf then discussed lien waivers. “They’re not lien waivers; they’re releases of claims,” he stated. He said this is the case 30 percent of the time and the fault is that no one knowledgeable is watching them. He advised companies to only waive liens to the extent of payment received. 

He said a new trend he is seeing is suppliers named in a specification passing on part of their liability to the subcontractor; the subcontractor has to be aware of this and be sure that it is passed further up the stream. “You have to have a waiver of consequential damages,” he said. “The general contractor has one from the owner, but you don’t necessarily have one.”

The final session on the regular educational program was a discussion on what architects and engineers expect of contract glaziers led by Michael Duffy, an engineer, and Robert Jernigan of Gensler, an architect.

“You have to understand the challenge of the application in all its dimensions,” said Duffy. “We’re going to investigate the glazing options fully but rapidly, so think holistically.” 

Information through Education
Listen early in the project and offer solutions, Duffy advised. “The owners have to be educated, because then they’ll demand better of the architects and engineers.” He also said to provide data through audiovisual presentations, which explain what you have to offer and what new solutions are available. “Show how you meet or exceed the various project requirements.”

What are architects looking for? “A design and delivery partner,” Jernigan said. “Clients have not made the adjustments for occupancy costs as the market has improved. They want to do things quickly with cost control because of those occupancy costs,” he told attendees. “So how, as a team, do we do this? How we deliver projects is changing,” he said. “Owners want us to deliver a building in 24 to 36 months because that’s how far out they can get leases, and we have to figure out how to deliver in that time,” he added.

Duffy said that many owners are buying into the increased costs for high-performance glass and framing for sustainable design because of the paybacks over the long term.

Special Software Session
The last part of the educational program was an in-depth look by representatives from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the software programs and databases for performing computer simulations for construction and product configurations.

Christian Kohler opened the program, explaining the software available for analyzing energy data in simulations.

These include Optics (for the window glass), Therm (for the window frame), Window (for the whole window), Comfen (for the whole commercial building) and Resfen (for the whole residential building). 

The programs are used for the design of new products and as guidelines for product selection and Energy Star® compliance, he explained.

The programs use data from two databases developed by LBNL, IGDB (international glass database) and CGDB (complex glazing database).

A new program, Window 6, incorporates complex glazing systems, such as Venetian blinds, woven cloth shades and bug screens, as well as fritted/silkscreened glass. It has not been released yet, but a research version is available. Kohler said people can go to the website (http://windows.lbl.gov/software/window/6) and try out the program to see how it works and then provide feedback. 

Kohler also told attendees that NFRC is developing a procedure for laminates without embedded coatings, and interlayers that have originally been measured with clear glass. These calculated laminates will have the same ‘status’ as products submitted to the IGDB database.

Looking ahead, Kohler said that Window 7 will deal with dynamic windows with multiple and variable states, such as electrochromic glass.

Selkowitz next discussed how the materials allow façade performance optimization by examining daylighting versus cooling tradeoffs and energy versus comfort tradeoffs.

He predicted that virtual lighting simulator software would be available and utilized in building design in a couple of years. The software, which has not been released yet, is available for experimental purposes at http://gaia.lbl.gov.vls.

BEC 2007
If next year’s conference is anything like this year’s, you’ll want to make plans early to attend. The conference will take place March 4-6, 2007, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino (formerly the Aladdin) in Las Vegas.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.