Volume 47, Issue 3 - March 2012



IGMA General Meeting Sees Growth, Formation of New Task Groups
The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) of Ottawa, Ontario, held its annual general meeting in Tempe, Ariz., in early February.

The newly created Emerging Technology and Innovation Committee met on February 1. “The decision to create this committee was to handle more research-oriented activities as opposed to standards oriented activities,” said Tracy Rogers of Quanex, who also serves as director of industry relations and advanced technology for IGMA. The task groups under that committee are: Gas Permeability; Mocon; Vacuum Insulated Glazing (VIG); and NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) Advanced Fenestration Testing.

“The VIG is a new task group that will develop a white paper, then a test standard specific for VIGs,” said IGMA executive director Marg Webb.

The white paper should be done in the next year, said Dave Cooper, advanced IG program leader at Guardian Industries of Auburn Hills, Mich., and president of IGMA. “Another item on the VIG task group is to review VIG documents/collateral related to specifications/protocol worldwide,” he said. “We also talked about a VIG education document, more like a presentation, and VIG glazing guidelines.”

The Gas Permeability group will look at how IG is tested for gas retention, Rogers said.

“Gas permeability is a factor, but not the only factor, of gas loss,” Webb added. “So, it’s going to be much more expansive now. That’s what the manufacturers wanted. Two questions consumers ask [are]: Is it there, and how long will it stay? We’ll do a field correlation study on gas-filled units.”

Mocon of Minneapolis, which does testing for gas permeability inside IGs, will look at measuring exotic gases, such as krypton and argon, she said.

"It is of strategic importance to the window industry. It’s going to be like a nutrition label for your window."
—Helen Sanders,
SAGE Electrochromics

The NREL group is developing a means for more stringent testing for IGs, according to Rogers. “The NREL is starting research with some new equipment that they’ve developed, but testing hasn’t started yet,” he said.

IGMA’s Life Cycle Assessment group also met under the Emerging Technology and Innovation Committee.

“The four industry associations, the Glass Association of North America, IGMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association got together to participate in this to create product category rules,” says Helen Sanders, head of the Emerging Technology and Innovation Committee and vice president of technical business development for Sage Electrochromics in Faribault, Minn. “We’ve been meeting with the other stakeholders such as UL Environment and University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Design. We’ve had two face-to-face meetings and many conference call meetings. We’re continuing to work on the draft, with another conference call coming up as well as more in-person meetings.”

It’s a work in progress, Sanders says. “The associations are working really well together to represent the fenestration industry,” she says. “It is of strategic importance to the window industry. It’s going to be like a nutrition label for your window. It’s going to be like the next NFRC [National Fenestration Rating Council] kind of label, not performance-based, but based on the environmental impact of your product through its lifetime.”

Product category rules will lay a level play field for the industry, because everybody’s environmental declaration will be based on the same rules, Sanders says. For example, the draft states how to calculate energy usage of the fenestration during the time it is installed in a building using energy building models. “It says you’d use a certain energy calculation program with a certain building design with a specified window area, so you get an apples-to-apples comparison from window to window,” Sanders says.

The completion date for the LCA document is not known yet, Sanders says.

IGMA’s summer meeting is scheduled for June 4-7 in Ottawa.

Energy Incentive Proposal Faces Skepticism

Glass professionals remain doubtful of a recently announced proposition by President Obama to increase the energy efficiency of the industrial sector by providing new incentives for manufacturers to upgrade equipment to lower energy use in their facilities. The goal of the incentives would be lower to lower manufacturers’ energy bills by $100 billion over the next decade.

“I’m skeptical that these energy-efficiency incentives will be made in a meaningful way,” says Arlene Z. Stewart, president of AZS Consulting Inc. in Gainesville, Fla. “The devil is always in the details. … Competitive companies have already made the ‘low-hanging’ energy upgrades because that’s what makes economic sense—not wasting their profits is one of the things that keep them competitive. What they really need is a boost to make comprehensive deep energy upgrades that have longer payback periods. Remember, the glazing industry uses facilities that stay on for 15 years at a time—that’s an eternity compared to a Wall Street quarter.”

Congress traditionally has not funded those because of their big price tag, Stewart says. “Instead they fund small ‘Band-Aid’ amounts that go to companies [that] arguably should have made the same changes their competitors did—so we reward companies for being slow and backward, something completely antithetical to a free and fair market,” she says. “Alternatively, the economy has already weeded out a lot of marginal companies, so Congress could allocate funds that can’t be spent because the companies already bought the Band-Aid, but they can tell their voters they did something for business.”

Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management at Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Mich., also takes the skeptical approach. “This new proposal for incentives and breaking down regulatory barriers is certainly welcome,” he says. “The devil is in the details—at least, that’s how the old adage goes—so we need to hear a lot more about what this really means … It is also worth noting that glass products are more and more energy-efficient in performance every year. That’s a nontrivial element to this discussion that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Approximately 35 percent of the energy used to create flat glass is lost as flue gasses, says Robert Weisenburger Lipetz, executive director of Glass Manufacturing Industry Council in Westerville, Ohio. “This points to the opportunities present in combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat recovery (WHR) support,” he says. “For a variety of reasons, there has been almost no new industrial CHP since 2005. WHR remains one of the greatest financial opportunities for efficiency increases, but there are sometimes legal speed bumps that trigger the application of more strict environmental regulations to host heat-generating processes when such equipment is installed.”

The cost of energy is the second largest expense item that glass manufacturers incur to operate glass melting furnaces, Lipetz says. “This is second only to the cost of depreciating the enormous capital investments. Federal policies that incentivize investment in more energy-efficient technologies and reduce the regulatory barriers will pay large dividends in increased domestic productivity, jobs and reduced energy consumption.”

—Sahely Mukerji

LEED Retrofits Increase High-Performance Demand
The fact that the square footage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- (LEED) certified existing buildings has surpassed LEED-certified new construction is a positive for the glass industry and a win for the country, because it reduces energy consumption and increases energy independence, says Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of YKK AP in Austell, Ga.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), as of December 2011, square footage of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction by 15 million square feet on a cumulative basis.

“The renewed focus on modernizing the existing building stock is … certainly a sign of the times, but more importantly, a clear indicator that improving the energy performance of the existing U.S. commercial building stock will be a predominant feature in the marketplace this decade,” Stepe says. “The paradigm shift shall support the creation of more technical and integrated solutions to the building facade and allow building product manufacturers and contractors to look beyond commodity products and focus more on innovation and value-added products and services. Though we may see lower square footage of demand for facades in this decade versus the last, the shift to value add and expanding the use of natural light will demand higher dollars per square foot for the facade and at the same time save energy and enhance society’s experience with the built environment.”

"The refurbishment of existing buildings has created an enormous opportunity for the glass industry."
—Valerie Block, DuPont

Valerie Block, LEED accredited professional and senior marketing specialist at DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions in Wilmington, Del., agrees. “The refurbishment of existing buildings has created an enormous opportunity for the glass industry,” she says. “High-performance glazing is an integral part of an energy-efficient home or commercial building. Besides energy conservation, high-performance glass creates a more comfortable living and working environment.”

However, the comparatively higher cost and hassle of replacing a glazing system makes it a less common choice for some retrofit projects. To bypass that, glass and glazing companies are coming up with new technologies, says Rob Struble, business communications manager, growth initiatives and performance glazing, for PPG Industries Inc. in Pittsburgh. “For example, one of our PPG Certified Fabricator Program members ... has a clever system for creating very high-performing insulating glass unit performance without the expense of tearing out the existing single-pane glazing system,” he says.

“I hope this and other new technologies make building retrofit more relevant and accessible to the glass industry as a whole, which would, in turn, improve the overall energy and environmental performance of buildings across the country,” Struble says.

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