Volume 44, Issue 2 - February 2009

GANA Perspectives

GANA: Energy 2.0
Meeting the Crisis, Challenge and Opportunity
by William Yanek

In 2008, the Glass Association of North America (GANA) positioned itself directly on the path to energy advocacy success. GANA now has an Energy Committee chaired by Stanley Yee of The Façade Group. The GANA Mirror Division will continue focusing on the issue of concentrating solar power (CSP) during its regular meetings. Through the Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC), GANA will advocate on behalf of the glazing industry on energy code issues.

GANA: Energy 2.0 started at GANA’s Glass Week and the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference that just wrapped up this month at the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas. During Glass Week, GANA’s Mirror Division and Energy Committee hosted a Solar Panel featuring Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) experts. Directly following the panel, GANA held its first Energy Committee Meeting.

Also during the BEC Conference, I addressed the crisis, challenge and opportunity that energy presents to the glass industry. 

Crisis: Do you believe in the church of Al Gore? Is global warming really happening? Or (like me) have you been shivering through this winter wondering whether another ice age is upon us? Do you now call global warming “global climate change?” My point at BEC: it doesn’t matter. Whether the weather is warming, cooling or just changing, the glass industry (actually, manufacturing as a whole) will be in the crosshairs of regulators for the foreseeable future. We must—and will—act to protect our industry, our jobs and the country’s manufacturing base.

Challenge: Energy conservation advocates, some engineers and some architects are circling the glazing industry with the argument that less glass equals more energy savings and “greener” buildings. Blinding flash of the obvious: less glass is bad for our industry. If we don’t tell the glass story, who will?

Opportunity: Federal funding and incentives for alternative energy are growing. Solar energy will benefit from this growth, but currently the interaction between the solar and glass industries is disjointed. My point at BEC: Get into the game. There is money to be made in alternative energy; the government is practically demanding that you do so.

Solar Summit

In April, GANA will be supporting the first building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) summit. The summit is titled Aligning Communities to Realize Disruptive Market Potential and will take place April 6-8, 2009, in San Diego. GANA members will receive a 10-percent discount to attend the summit. Visit www.glasswebsite.com for registration information.

Solar technology integrated into the building envelope is poised to be the most disruptive of all renewable power options. Retrofit rooftop applications, currently the majority of PV systems, have barely scratched the surface of solar energy’s full potential. New low-cost thin film products will transform traditional building surfaces into reliable, distributed generation, power plants. In some markets energy efficiency and BIPV have already combined to make the first generation of net-zero buildings a commercial reality. 

BIPV also faces significant challenges as this application evolves from niche market status to mainstream adoption. BIPV interacts in more complex ways with the building envelope and takes multifarious, and continually evolving, forms. Most architects, building engineers and contractors are not familiar with how to integrate these products and new distribution channels will have to be developed. As BIPV blurs the line between what is structural and electrical, it also will be necessary to revise current building and electrical codes. New financing systems will have to be developed to fully catalyze the potential market, a particular challenge with the ongoing global credit crisis.

Keep your eye on GANA: Energy 2.0 in 2009.

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