Volume 45, Issue 4 - April 2010


A Four-Front War

The Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractor’s Conference in March was a sobering experience for anyone in the architectural glass industry. It appears we are fighting a four-front war against energy legislation and regulation, the economy, litigation and technology.

“There are opportunities out there,” said one enthusiastic speaker. “There IS a lot of business for contract glaziers,” he declared, “for businesses that want to work in Brazil. The economy is growing and the Olympics are coming,” he added.?“It’s not all doom and gloom.”

Indeed. With apologies to Thomas Friedman, the world may be flat but, with a few notable exceptions, the contract glazing industry remains decidedly round.

We will have extensive coverage in USGlass magazine in the coming months, but let me just give you the highlights (except in this case, the highlights are more like lowlights). Here are some other themes from the conference:

1. Under Attack: The glass industry is under attack from a whole variety of separate arenas: energy reduction advocates, government and regulatory agencies, code organizations and green advocates. Each presents separate challenges to the industry but all are communicating a “glass is an energy-hog” message that’s resonating. We, as an industry, have to fix this.

2. New Products: The day of the highly energy-efficient alternative glass product has arrived. Presentations about the various types of new dynamic glazing dominated the discussions at the conference. “Doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, this is the future,” said one attendee.

3. The Economy: All I will say is that three separate speakers, each using different data, murmured a variation of the following sentence. “We will not return to 2007 levels of non-residential building activity until 2014.”

4. The Bs—Banking, Bonding and Big Buildings: Banks and bonding companies have tightened their criteria for access to capital and bonds. It really says a lot about our society when you see 70- and 80-year-old companies with stellar financial performance in every year but 2009 being cut off.

And big buildings, what have become of them? Where have all the big ones gone??Gone to Brazil everyone.

Drop me a line and let me know what you think our biggest challenges are as an industry. If you were at the BEC, you’d know you have a lot to choose from.



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