Volume 43, Issue 12 - December 2008

Energy & Environment

Impact of Green Building, Security 
Glazing Dominate PGC Meeting

The Protective Glazing Council (PGC) International concluded its Annual Symposium with presentations about green building, case studies and a look at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development activities around impact-resistant glazing. Approximately 70 construction professionals involved with protective (safety and security) glazing gathered at the Crystal City Hyatt hotel in suburban Washington D.C.

Bernstein: If you are not doing green building, you will be out of business in five years
So was the dire prediction from Harvey Bernstein of McGraw-Hill who began the day with a program about green construction trends in protective glazing. Bernstein began with a global view, stating that the construction industry equals 10 percent of a worldwide GDP. The U.S. market is the largest construction market in the world, followed by the growing markets in China, Brazil, Korea and India. He pointed out that the Asian market in particular has doubled its rates of green building “Every major growth area of the world sees green building as a growth area over the next five years,” he said.

Bernstein then provided an overview of his company’s economic forecast. Single-family housing is dismal and commercial work has dropped off significantly and now is not expected to grow until 2010. The only area showing positive growth is in educational and institutional project work. 

With the decline of the construction market, contraction also has occurred in the number of places around the country that generate design work and in the design firms doing the work. “New York, Washington and LA are the three places where most of the office construction work comes from,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein also looked at the use of impact-resistant glass in the projects that his company tracks. “We have seen an increase in usage of 50 percent in just one year,” he said. “Further, impact-resistant glazing is being specified at a much higher rate—double—in public building than it is in other buildings. The government is using more of it than anybody else.”

Among the other interesting trends in sustainable design Bernstein noted:
• The percent of projects requiring the usage of the LEED rating system has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent from last year to this year;
• The use of the LEED rating system is growing faster on bigger projects;
• If you’re glazing a college dorm, chances are it will be a LEED-rated building as college dormitories have the highest percentage of LEED-specified projects of any project type; and
• Consumers have begun to associate particular companies with green branding, although primarily residential manufacturers. 

Varner: Protective Glazing Brings Extra Benefits
David Varner of the SmithGroup Architects in Washington D.C. followed Bernstein. He led the group on a picture tour of projects that were designed with both security and safety as priorities. In addition to the obvious, he touched on the additional benefits of sustainable projects. Citing a remodeling project done for a large firm, he said that the use of glass for daylighting brought added, unanticipated benefits. “We knew people would have a better work environment but we didn’t expect what the firm found. They found a reduction of 39 percent in employee sick days and a 44-percent decline in employee health care costs. “These were great added benefits,” he said.

Varner also emphasized the need for third-party certification of green products. “You can see how critical this will be in the future.”

Paradis: Windows Do the Hardest Work
Every building is in conflict, according to Richard Paradis of Steven Winter Associates, also of Washington D.C. Paradis made the point during a presentation entitled “Balancing Security and Sustainability.”

“There needs to be a balance among safety, security and sustainability,” Paradis said, adding, “there’s always trade-offs when choosing a site or developing a project.”

Paradis spent a good deal of the presentation explaining the web-based Whole Building Design Guide (available at www.wbdg.org) and how it can be used to help balance sustainability with protective goals. He stopped toward the end to focus on fenestration. “Windows do the hardest work; they have the hardest job,” he said. “Look what we ask of them. Help us with daylighting, reject heat and glare, keep the noise out and, while you’re at it, protect us against hurricanes and other threats. It’s quite a tall order.”

LaFrance: NFRC Board Was Wrong
P. Marc LaFrance, who followed Paradis to the podium, is the technology program manager for the building technology program of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the DOE. He spoke about DOE’s research efforts toward development of zero energy buildings.

“Our goal,” he said, “is for net-zero energy buildings by 2025. We are trying to reduce our end usage by 30 percent. We can do it today but it’s not yet economical. Right now, it’s too expensive to build, even though you wouldn’t have a utility bill for 20-30 years.”

He also predicted that the price of triple-glazed and dynamic windows will drop in the future. “If someone wants to buy a triple-pane window today, it’s hard to recommend it. They are so expensive. There are ways to bring those prices down,” he said.

LaFrance cited the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) for its role in development of energy-efficient windows. “The NFRC is not an easy meeting to go to. It’s boring, it’s painful, but at the end of the day, it does its job pretty well,” he said. “A lot of glass companies have made more money because of NFRC. They don’t want to give the credit to it, but they should.”

He also explained the usage of the International Glazing Database and how it would be expanded for commercial buildings through the Component Modeling Approach (CMA). “You have buckets—a bucket for glass, one for spacers and one for frames. You would pull your materials out of each of the three buckets and come up with a rating.” 

La France was asked a question about the framing ratings. “I personally think there should be a frame default,” he said referring to a measure that was defeated at the NFRC meeting (see page 12 for related story), “and I told the NFRC board so … I told the board that it should relook at that, because I think what they did was wrong. If someone wants to take a tougher rating, a punitive rating, in exchange for not having to do the testing, then they should be able to do so,” he said emphatically.


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