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Greenbuild Conference Attracts Record Numbers; Attendees Exposed to Efficient Windows

Former president Bill Clinton delivered the keynote speech at the Greenbuild conference last week in Chicago, the world's largest conference and exposition dedicated to green building. More than 20,000 people from all over the world took part in three days of educational sessions, LEED workshops, hands-on training, local green building tours, networking events and the exhibition.

Clinton accepted a plaque honoring his library in Little Rock for achieving platinum LEED status. He discussed the political aspects of the environmental situation and said that, for the United States, it is an opportunity not a problem.

"It is the greatest opportunity for mobilization for this country since World War II," he said. Clinton noted that 70 percent of energy usage in urban areas comes from buildings, and that dealing with this represents an opportunity. He revealed that GE Real Estate, one of the largest building owners in the United States, has committed to increasing the sustainability of its portfolio, which consists largely of existing buildings. "This is huge and will give the market an impetus," he said.

Exhibits: Window Companies Showcase Commercial Products
According to event organizers, Greenbuild's exhibit hall sold out nearly a year in advance: its 800 booths displayed the newest green building technologies, products and services, which included doors and windows.

One of the industry exhibitors at Greenbuild is Marvin Windows. A company representative discusses the energy-efficient qualities of its products with an attendee.

Mike Riley, a commercial representative for Pella Windows & Doors, reported good traffic at the booth.

“Pella’s very big on green—recycling and energy efficiency—and we’re showcasing a fiberglass window that is 30 percent more energy efficient. It’s a triple-lite unit that can have blinds between the lites. They really like that, especially in medical facilities.”

Eric Ottem, senior market analyst for Andersen in Bayport, Minn., said, “Twelve months ago you might have heard of green. It was definitely the theme of this year’s AIA show and now you hear it every day in the media. It’s so steeped in Andersen’s culture; we’ve been doing it 15 years and you have to remember to bring it into today’s current conditions.”

Eric Nilsson, vice president of CertainTeed corporate marketing, Valley Forge, Pa., adds that it is important to educate people on what is really green.

“Sustainable construction is undoubtedly one of the biggest and noisiest topics in our industry today,” he said. “In this cluttered marketing environment, we understand the challenge in ascertaining what does and does not constitute green construction, which is why we created the CertainTeed Green Building Products reference guide. This brochure, like our booth, was designed expressly to provide industry professionals with a concise information source about our products and how they impact the environment and their sustainable projects.”

Glen Miner, architectural market manager performance glazing for PPG Industries, explained that the company’s low-emissivity glass “plays right into LEED certification.” The company was promoting its green credentials, not only for glass, but also for its coatings. On the glass side, Miner said, “A lot of people are coming up to us here with projects and our glass fits right into them.”

Participants Attend High-Performance Windows Seminar
Most of the Greenbuild seminar schedule is geared toward green and sustainability in the broadest design and build sense. However, during the Greenbuild conference several hundred people, primarily architects involved in commercial work, attended the session: High Performance Windows and Facades: Research and Development, Tools and Market Transformation Programs. Steve Selkowitz, head of the building technologies department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), discussed the R&D aspects; Nils Petermann, Alliance to Save Energy, discussed the market transformation; and John Carmody, Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota, handled tools.

Selkowitz, who said he would speak on a practical level, explained the opportunity in a building that can provide heat in the winter and control the sun in the summer to decrease the demand for energy usage. He discussed the type of window that has to be developed if zero net usage buildings are to be achieved. Selkowitz said the need is for triple-lite units with coatings and gas fills—all the elements that are available today, but even more.

Selkowitz pointed out that LBNL maintains a database of all the glass produced in the U.S. and its statistical properties. He also said that LBL has been testing photochromic windows for about three years and that they perform as expected.

For facades, Selkowitz said the need is for advanced interactive intelligent models. He gave the example of the New York Times building in New York City, which LBNL had been involved with.

“We have to build the case for this type of usage,” he told attendees.

Petermann discussed the Energy Star label and what it means. “It’s a very successful program. Half the windows being sold today qualify for Energy Star,” he said.

Petermann said the next step is highly insulating windows, which perform better than average windows today, but not as well as the super windows that Selkowitz had discussed. According to Petermann, about 1 percent of windows sold today fit into this category.

“They cost too much,” he said. “[Gaining a larger market share] is a significant obstacle to overcome.”Carmody rounded out the program by naming some tools (websites, computer programs, simulation tools) that can be used to select the best window for a commercial or residential application.

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