Volume 50, Issue 12 - December 2015

Two Gs

Greenbuild Expo Proves How Green and Glazing Go Hand in Hand

by Nick St. Denis

The Greenbuild 2015 exhibition in Washington, D.C., last month was chock full of new technologies, developments and innovative solutions for the “green” movement. Glass and glazing companies got in on the action in a big way, showing exactly why the industry is so important to the green building community.

Fully Transparent

Glass and glazing is known for its transparency and has taken that concept beyond aesthetics.

Product transparency is a key player in the green building community, and it’s something YKK AP America has embraced. The company announced the completion of a life cycle analysis (LCA) for all seven facade categories produced in its manufacturing center in Dublin, Ga. YKK can now provide product-specific Type III environmental product declarations (EPDs) for its entrances, storefronts, curtainwalls, window walls, windows, balcony doors and sun controls. The EPDs were third-party verified by UL Environment.

Mike Turner, vice president of marketing for YKK AP, pointed out that aluminum is a major component of its commercial products, which he says are “well-suited to the green building movement.”

Kawneer also highlighted its sustainability capabilities due to aluminum being the foundation of its product line.
The company released its first EPD recently. Kawneer director of architectural promotion and marketing Donnie Hunter said his company is committed to the sustainability and transparency movement. It hopes to release EPDs for all its products in early 2016.

For the Birds

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) exhibited at the show and launched its “Bird-Smart Glass Program.” The program seeks to address the issue of bird collisions with glass, which ABC says kills hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S.

After six years of testing, ABC has identified 18 products that are effective in reducing these collisions significantly. Products featured in the Bird-Smart Glass Program include patterned glass, window films, tapes and external screens.

Two companies included in the ABC program are Walker Glass and GlasPro, both of which exhibited at Greenbuild.

Walker has been a leader in bird-safe glass for a few years. Danik Dancause, marketing manager, said the increase in developments from various companies is a good thing for the movement. His company has found that acid-etching on surface one, combined with certain pattern measurements based on testing and research, works best so far.

GlasPro’s creative director Steve Sudeth, meanwhile, wowed attendees demonstrating the company’s ultraviolet interlayer technology, which ABC’s Glenn Phillips said was the highest-rated UV product based on their testing.

Bring in the Light

Daylighting is a major component of green building—and one that incorporates glazing in a big way. Multiple companies were in the nation’s capital educating Greenbuild attendees about daylight diffusion.

Advanced Glazings’s Solera employs wide-angle diffusing translucence to distribute light evenly throughout an interior space. The company works with architects and owners to determine an optimal configuration of vision glass and Solera, which it claims is achieved through daylighting simulations.

Kalwall Structures Unlimited also specifies its natural daylight-diffusing solutions based on computer-generated daylight analyses. According to the company, specific target light levels can be obtained by changing translucency of the panel’s face sheets or the amount of insulation used.

A Dynamic Industry

USGlass editors asked attendees what was the most interesting thing about glass, and the most popular answer was dynamic glass. Manufacturers in that market were eager to show off the technology, and a couple of them had important announcements to make.

Electrochromic glass manufacturer SageGlass announced a joint technology partnership with MechoSystems, developer of the automated solar control technology SolarTrac. MechoSystems designs and manufactures manual, motorized and automatic shading systems. SolarTrac is part of the latter and can now be combined with Sage’s three-panel LightZone.

The automatic technology adjusts Sage’s tint levels based on “predictive sky analysis and user-defined head-load and solar-penetrating thresholds,” according to MechoSystems. The system calculates sun angles and BTU loads on the glass and can evaluate real-time sky conditions.

Elsewhere on the show floor, View premiered its new 10-by-6-foot electrochromic glass, which it says is the largest on the market today.

Erich Klawuhn, vice president of product management, said the larger glass will be applicable not only to new construction but replacements, as well. For example, he said the airport terminal market can benefit, as it often utilizes large applications of glass.

Thermochromic glass, a self-tinting technology that darkens the glass gradually and dynamically when heated by direct sunlight, staked its claim, as well. Pleotint was on the scene, featuring Suntuitive. Chuck Kuchinick, vice president, said it’s unique because it doesn’t require additional power to change the state of the glazing and instead utilizes a self-sustaining vinyl interlayer.

“We’re using less energy and conserving energy by preserving the heat gain in the building,” Kuchinick said of the product’s green benefits. “You’re improving overall occupant comfort as well as reducing HVAC loads and energy consumption.”

Still Efficient

What would green building be without energy efficiency? The industry had that aspect covered, too.

It wasn’t limited to new construction either. J.E. Berkowitz’s Renovate is a retrofitting system that can bring a window up to triple-glazing when installed on the interior. The company sees the product, which it featured at the show, as a big player in the green building community simply because it brings an existing building up to green standards and doesn’t involve new construction or the ripping out and replacing of windows.

Other developments in the industry have addressed increasingly stringent energy requirements and demand for thermal performance. Technoform Bautec recently developed a polyamide pressure plate with YKK, which YKK had at its booth. Chad Ricker of Bautec said it provides a 20 percent gain in U-factor performance and a 10 percent gain in condensation performance.

Another new related technology is Azon’s mechanical lock profile (MLP), a structural cavity design that allows for increased thermal barrier cavity size for improving the energy efficiency of aluminum fenestration products. According to the company, the fully encapsulated cavity design is stronger because “the displaced metal … provides more surfaces to mechanically lock and embed the polymer to the aluminum.”

The next Greenbuild will be held in October 2016 in Los Angeles.

the author

Nick St. Denis is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine. He can be reached at nstdenis@glass.com. Casey Flores and Trey Barrineau contributed to this article.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.