Volume 44, Issue 12 - December 2009



When Green Isn’t Just a Color
GANA’s Decorative Division Looks at LEED®
by Cathie Saroka

The modern world has united, sometimes whether it has wanted to or not, to increase energy efficiencies and reduce the potential harmful effects we humans have on our planet. One of the many tools to bring about this change has been the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™. LEED, which has helped define methods to create beautiful buildings that impact our surroundings in a less harmful way, has also undergone numerous changes. These changes, along with the massive scope of the system, have left many confused as to what actually earns LEED credits. And, as decorative glass is in a class of its own in terms of product, many wonder if it would even qualify for credits. To make sense of it all, the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Decorative Division has just released the new GANA Decorative Glass LEED® white paper.

The GANA LEED paper is now fully approved and available free of charge on the GANA website at www.glasswebsite.com/techcenter. The paper helps eliminate confusion by describing some of the ways in which decorative glass is consistent with and furthers the intent of the LEED system. It gives information on specific credits, as well as some potential strategies and applications where decorative glass can be used to help achieve LEED credits.

About two years of research, writing, rewriting and approval have gone into this document. The question now becomes “what exactly does this mean for all of us involved in decorative glass and how can we best use this information for the benefit of the whole industry?”

Next Steps
The purpose of the GANA Decorative Division LEED document has always been to demonstrate how the use of decorative glass supports sustainable building practices (in other words, decorative glass = green). Now that the paper is approved and available for distribution, we can use the document as a tool to educate decision makers about the value and versatility of decorative glass. Some of the things to consider as next steps may include a plan for marketing and communicating the information, updating the paper to ensure it stays current and encouraging other GANA divisions to develop similar information for their segments of the industry.

Marketing: The first step in encouraging people to use this information is to make sure they know it exists. A marketing and communications plan will be created to get the information out to architectural and design firms, spec writers, contractors and others that are working with LEED-registered projects. Members of the GANA Decorative Division also are a source for communicating the information through links on their company websites. Communication through other associations, including AIA, CSI, USGBC and CaGBC, should be considered.

Updates: The paper is written to the new LEED-NC Version 3 Rating System (2009) with variations for Commercial Interiors, as well as the Canada Green Building Council’s Rating Systems. The Decorative Division’s LEED task group is responsible for further updates to the paper as new versions of the rating systems are released.

Other Divisions: Now that the Decorative Division has completed its paper, other divisions within GANA have begun developing similar information to demonstrate how their products support and further the intent of LEED. This will allow our association to provide a comprehensive package of information to those with an interest in green building. The use of glass in construction can be an important component of sustainable design. The more complete and credible technical information we provide, the more influence we can have in ensuring that the use of glass in its many forms is considered as a preferred building material in LEED projects.

Although the LEED program has experienced some criticism, it remains the system within which we all work. Tools such as this paper will help us to educate architects, designers and others about the sustainable properties of decorative glass. It also gives us the opportunity to influence material choice and even promote the innovative use of glass in construction. As members of this industry, we can choose whether or not to take advantage of these opportunities, but one thing is certain: the end result will be directly proportional to the effort we put in.

Download the document today and join us in spreading the word about decorative glass.

Cathie Saroka is the membership and website committee chair of the GANA Decorative Division. Ms. Saroka’s opinions are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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