Volume 45, Issue 6 - June 2010


Taking Action
GANA: Advocacy and the Future of the Glass Industry
by Bill Yanek

Recently, I visited with a doctor (fortunately on an association matter, not my health!). His observations on association advocacy struck a chord. It seems medical specialties are grappling with the new healthcare landscape. Beyond the expected challenges of plugging medical specialties into a one-size-fits-all health system, cardiologists are concerned that their voice at the state and federal levels is not being heard. Sound familiar?

The commercial architectural glazing industry’s advocacy dilemma at the state, federal and regulatory levels mirror what the cardiologists are facing. How best do we make our voice heard in all relevant advocacy arenas? I often hear from members of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) that we need to stop “parachuting in” at the last minute and asking for the world from a standard-setting body that has been at work on an effort for months, if not years. To become more proactive, GANA: Advocacy must engage in three areas.

A Seat at the Table
First, we must represent our industry in all forums.

A well-worn phrase in Washington, D.C., warns, “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.” We need to ensure that GANA remains at the table.

Advocating on behalf of architectural glazing need not necessarily reside in the Capitol. All of our U.S. Congressmen have constituents in the commercial architectural glazing industry. A conservative estimate of the annual global economic impact of our industry equals more than $38 billion.

GANA: Advocacy already is making progress. May 10-12 GANA member companies and staff visited key Congressional members and staff to discuss pending Building Star legislation and educate members of Congress on GANA’s clean energy efforts. In addition, GANA and several other industry associations jointly signed a white paper on proposed changes to Building Star and that document was distributed during these visits to the Hill. GANA also sent a letter to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and other key Senators outlining GANA-supported clean energy principles and efforts.

GANA: Advocacy in the States
State level regulation and adoption of energy and building codes continue to impact commercial architectural glazing.

As the adoption of California’s climate change/cap and trade framework moves into implementation, GANA: Advocacy will engage on this issue through the AB 32 Implementation Group. This coalition represents large and small businesses that are vital to California’s economy and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs. Its mission is to be a constructive voice in the process to implement AB 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act) and ensure that the greenhouse gas emission reductions required are achieved while maintaining the competitiveness of California businesses and protecting the interests of consumers and workers (learn more at www.ab32ig.com).

Also in California, work is under way by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in developing the state’s building energy efficiency standard (Title 24). The intent is to achieve significant energy savings through the development of reasonable, responsible, and cost-effective code change proposals for the 2011 code update (learn more at www.energy.ca.gov/title24/). 

And across several Western states and two Canadian provinces, the Western Climate Initiative is managing the collaboration of independent jurisdictions working together to identify, evaluate and implement policies to tackle climate change at a regional level. This is a comprehensive effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, spur growth in new green technologies, help build a strong clean-energy economy and reduce dependence on foreign oil (learn more at www.westernclimateinitiative.org).

Historically, advocacy in front of regulatory bodies, code promulgating entities and standards setting organizations have dominated GANA: Advocacy efforts. They will remain a critical piece. However, in addition to the International Code Council, ASHRAE and ASTM, regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (which is contemplating the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions) and Department of Energy (which is at the forefront of energy policy), will need increasing emphasis in the near future.

This year GANA: Advocacy will synchronize efforts in Washington, D.C., at the state level and in front of regulatory, code and standard setting bodies.

New Tools
Secondly, GANA: Advocacy needs to continue to develop member advocacy tools and improve our current offerings.

On our new website at www.glasswebsite.com/advocacy you will find increasing commercial architectural glazing industry advocacy information.

This new portal combines traditional web articles and links with video podcasts and social media tools to deliver to you the most up-to-date advocacy information. The portal will assist you in educating legislators, regulators and other commercial architectural glazing industry stakeholders.

Finally, GANA: Advocacy must learn to navigate the new advocacy reality—coalitions, alliances, social media and constant change.

Advocacy efforts that worked just a few years ago are being swept away by new alliances, new coalitions and new communication channels. The High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition is one such coalition. On Building Star, GANA worked with the Energy Future Coalition, a non-partisan alliance that seeks to bridge the differences among business, labor and environmental groups and identify energy policy options with broad political support. GANA: Advocacy will continue to forge relationships with such entities. But to be a viable partner, GANA will have to be at the table “early and often” and be able to provide member expertise.

And, don’t just take it from me—listen to the doctors.

Bill Yanek is GANA’s executive vice president. Mr. Yanek’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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