Volume 49, Issue 5 - May 2014


Topic to Watch: Mock-Up Testing is Not Just for Big Jobs Anymore

The concept of building enclosure commissioning involves taking a holistic look at the building, including the glazing, from design through construction—to ensure that all components are working together toward the same energy goals. The practice, which has its origins in the residential sector, is becoming more common in the commercial arena as well. While contract glaziers are well-positioned to operate in the emerging commissioning environment, the industry needs to be aware of a coming trend, say some experts.

What may be more indicative of the trend is the type of buildings being commissioned. One of the central elements of commissioning involves testing through building mock-ups—that is, three-dimensional, life-sized, sections of buildings prior to their construction. John Runkle, vice president for building sciences at Architectural Testing Inc., says that projects budgeted at $40 million-$50 million and up would be candidates for such mockups five years ago, but that today, “We’re seeing that owners are accepting and paying for mock-ups for projects with budgets below $10 million,” he says.

The good news is that energy efficiency and testing for air and water tightness are concepts with which the glass industry is already familiar. “I think for the glaziers and the glass industry, there really won’t be much difference in terms of testing,” says Chuck Knickerbocker, curtainwall manager at Technical Glass Products. “The window guys have always been responsible for making sure their materials are air- and water-tight and also that the [window-to-wall] transition is air and water tight.”

Stanley Yee, facade design and construction specialist at Dow Corning, agrees—to an extent. Is the glass industry ahead of the curve? “I think an argument could be made, yes, when it comes to air- and water-infiltration resistance performance,” he says.

Yet, he is quick to point out that the next frontier may well go beyond basic air and water considerations and turn attention to thermal and other considerations.

“ … It’s being documented and that there is an ASTM standard for [commissioning] that continues to evolve just means that we as an industry should pay attention to it,” Yee says. “The day will come when other considerations will come into play.”

By definition, building enclosure commissioning “turns the corner,” as Yee says, and moves away from simply air and water to comprehensive performance. “I think there’s still a learning curve that we are currently traversing and their needs to be a general consensus on how to benchmark, validate and verify overall building enclosure performance,” he says.

Keeping costs down may be an issue for building enclosure commissioning in general, says Knickerbocker. Testing a 500,000 square-foot office building for water tightness, for instance, is very different than testing a 2,000 square-foot house, he notes.

“It comes down to a question of scale and statistics,” says Knickerbocker. “How much do you test, and how often do you test—and, more importantly, who’s going to pay for that?”

As for what the industry can be doing now, Runkle looks for continued technology improvement and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to bring cost down for those technologies (e.g., triple pane options). —Carl Levesque

Gamma Curtain Wall Announces New Name
Gamma Curtain Wall has a new name: Gamma North America. Company officials say the new name reflects “a new, seamless, one-unit continental operating strategy in the U.S. and Canada.”

As part of the new strategy, the company promoted Jim Mitchell to the new position of president. All of Gamma’s North American manufacturing and operations will now report directly to Mitchell. Elliot Kracko will remain as chair and continue to focus on business development, customer relationships and strategic planning.Matthew Baum will serve as head of Gamma’s U.S. field operations.

“The evolution today into a single North American-wide operating unit reflects our very strong marketplace performance in the U.S. and Canada in 2013,” says Kracko.

Mitchell adds, “This structure and strategy allow us to maximize the effectiveness of all people in the company in one seamless unit, versus a more traditional silo-base operating approach separated by company process/function, office location and country.”

ASA Recognizes Haley-Greer for Ethics
Dallas-based Haley-Greer Inc. was among the ten construction subcontractors earning the American Subcontractors Association’s (ASA) 2013 Excellence in Ethics Award.

“ASA’s Excellence in Ethics Awards program promotes the highest standards of internal and external integrity for a subcontracting firm,” says Shannon MacArthur, chair of the ASA Task Force on Ethics in the Construction Industry.

Each applicant is required to respond to questions concerning the firm’s corporate ethics policies and procedures, its construction practices, and its general business practices. Each applicant also is required to submit detailed documentation, including sealed letters of recommendation from a customer, a competitor and a supplier.


Metropolitan Glass Inc. Still Strong After 50 Years
What began as a trickle 50 years ago has cascaded into something considerably bigger at Metropolitan Glass Inc. (MGI). From its humble beginnings of just two employees, the Denver-based commercial glazing contractor had morphed into a well-known name in the industry by the time it celebrated its 50th anniversary in March.

Steady leadership, a shared vision and a steadfast commitment to only the highest quality work has helped the company weather adversity of all kinds for a half century.

That’s just what MGI founders Donald (Sam) Smith and Gene Goldsworth had in mind when they first decided to band together and try their luck.

“From its inception, the business has been run the right way by smart people who did the right things at the right times,” says sales manager Marty Richardson. “Because of that, we’ve been able to weather all the storms that have come our way and be successful.”

Incorporated in 1964, MGI’s early work consisted of furnishing and installing very simple glass and aluminum products for convenience stores, gas stations, small offices, and supplying thousands of pieces of glass shelving, binning and mirrors for fixture companies. Today, the company provides and installs products for a wide variety of project types, including commercial doors and windows, skylights, decorative and architectural glass, curtainwall and glass wall systems, glass doors and windowwall systems and glass storefronts.

Now with 75 employees, MGI did a robust $15.5 million in net sales in 2013, according to Richardson. It still pales somewhat in comparison to the more than $20 million the company was doing annually prior to the economic meltdown beginning in 2008.

But unlike many of its contemporaries, MGI withstood the adversity and continues to stand strong.

“We’re still not quite up to where we were in 2008, but we’re getting back,” Richardson says. “We should be close by the end of this year.”

Also at MGI, the company received the 2013 Circle of Safety from Pinnacol Assurance. It was one of 50 recipients to receive this award out of 55,000 Pinnacol Assurance policyholders.

Accura Systems Celebrates 25 Years
This year marks a silver anniversary for Accura Systems Inc. The company was founded in March 1989 and has grown from two employees to more than 150 over the last 25 years.

Accura began in a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility east of Dallas, and over the years has expanded to a manufacturing campus that includes four buildings totaling approximately 200,000 square feet, situated on 18 acres of property in Sunnyvale, Texas.

The company has provided products for 300 projects across the United States, Mexico and South America over the last 25 years.

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