Volume 44, Issue 9 - September 2009



Always the Whipping Boy

Editor’s Note: I took a few months off from writing this column and it’s good to be back. (Please visit my blog at http://usglass.blogspot.com/ for a little more background on this experiment.)

Glass and the glass industry are the whipping boys of the construction industry. When the energy gurus decide commercial buildings are using too much power, what do they do? They sic the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) on us. Nevermind that economical building owners and managers have been self-regulating this area for years and the NFRC’s intrusion is not needed. Can you imagine a National Concrete Rating Council? Of course not, but the concrete industry has done a pretty good job of standing up for itself.

And who is coming up with new codes and regulations for the use of glass in buildings? The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is. That’s right. According to its website, ASHRAE advances the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve humanity. And what do those HVAC engineers do?
How do they work to decrease energy usage? You would think those engineers would concentrate on what they know. Yet, if the past is prologue, ASHRAE regulations such as 90.1 have made the glass industry carry a heavier part of the energy conservation load than the HVAC industry.

And now we have the cap-and-trade discussion and a very disconcerting proposal that will move even more of one of the last true manufacturing industries in the United States offshore, even quicker and more forcefully.

Glass is blamed for everything. Just a few weeks ago we ran a story about a new and innovative New York City glass-clad hotel on our daily e-news service www.usgnn.com™. (You can view the story at www.usgnn.com with a link under August 31.) The story, which also was covered on NBC?Nightly News, talked about how the patrons at this particular hotel had taken to doing those things that hotel couples sometimes do when alone together, if you know what I?mean. The problem was they’d taken to doing said deeds without the benefit of window coverings in a building overlooking a park where children played. Never mind that the hotel seemingly encouraged such behavior by inviting guests, through its website, to “release their exhibitionist tendencies” during their stay. The outcry and national attention prompted a change in attitude. And guess what got the blame??Yup, it was all the fault of the glass. ?The hotel released a statement saying that, after all, the facade is glass and that it “will remind guests of the transparency of the guest room windows.”

From the banal to the important, our industry need not be a whipping boy anymore. We need to take and keep control of our own destiny, and there are efforts afoot to do that. But it takes everyone’s involvement to make it happen.

On page 28 of this issue you’ll find an excellent article by Ed Zaucha, president of APG?International of New Jersey.?In it, Ed writes about the pain and challenges of losing his friend and partner, along with one of APG’s employees, suddenly in an air crash last year. It takes immense courage to write a story such as this and to share it with an industry, and we applaud Ed for doing so. He embodies the courage so many in our industry have.

Let’s take that courage, along with all the other good qualities our industry has, and lose our whipping boy status for good.

P.S. :?I’ll be down in Atlanta too, in booth #2902, so please stop by and say hello. I’d love to have the chance to talk with you.

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