Last week, while attending the Glass Build Show in Las Vegas, I presented an hour long seminar as part of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) “Architects of a Better Mind” program. AAMA’s annual seminar program offers architects who attend the opportunity to earn eight learning units (LUs), all of which qualify as Health, Safety, Welfare (HSW) units, which is a full year’s HSW requirement for AIA members. Architects from all across North America showed up to learn about topics including sound control, window performance standards, glass selection, vinyl window design, designing with fiberglass, the use of skylights for day-lighting and even designing windows for blast mitigation.What a great two way learning opportunity it is to stand before and interact with a group of architects without any sales pitch whatsoever. After all, since the program offers LUs, pushing one’s product is strictly forbidden. But in this venue, I wouldn’t even dream of pushing my product. After all, I am there not only to share knowledge but also to gain insight on what types of products and technologies are most important to the architectural community. In order to truly accomplish this, all promotional interests must be set aside in the interest of pure learning. When this is done it becomes a mutually beneficial exchange.

My seminar focused upon designing windows for improved sound control, and I found the audience to be keenly interested in the topic. But as we delved into the design elements that influenced sound control, I fielded many questions that showed a high degree of concern for optimizing thermal performance as well. When it came to discussing materials or technologies that improved sound control, quite a few architects wanted to make sure that moving in that direction was not going to result in a sacrifice in thermal performance. One architect, for example, had a very high STC value that he was looking to hit, but when I told him that he would need to separate the two panes of glass by a four inch air gap, he quickly came back and asked, “But what would that do to my U- Value?” The answer, of course, was not what he wanted to hear. However, the news wasn’t always bad. There were several technologies discussed that moved both STC and thermal performance values in the right direction. Architects found these materials to be particularly interesting.

Oftentimes, architects are faced with a project which entails installing windows with a minimum STC (Sound Transmission Classification) value. This might be dictated by a building code or simply specified by the building owner. I was pleasantly surprised to see, however, the number of architects that recognized the value of digging deeper into the data as opposed to just looking at the single number rating systems such as STC or OITC (Outdoor Indoor Transmission Classification) numbers. They appreciated the knowledge that certain materials or technologies might reduce sound transmission across a specific frequency range even though the STC value might not change at all. For example, argon gas filling might be used to reduce sound transmission across the bandwidth between 500 to 3000 Hertz, without changing the STC value at all. If one looked only at the STC values, the conclusion might be drawn to promote only the thermal performance attributes of adding argon or to abandon gas filling altogether. But by digging deeper into the data, one can see that improving sound control in this specific frequency range could have a significant impact in terms of blocking out the sound of car horns in urban areas, while also improving the U-Value of the window system. As one architect enthusiastically put it, “Wow, I can finally have my cake and eat it too!”

I left the seminar room feeling very much the same way as I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic exchange of knowledge with a satisfying slice of the architectural community.


  1. Jim:
    Who made the presentation on designing with Fiberglass.
    Were there notes?
    Phil wake

  2. Jim,
    Thanks for posting this blog and including AAMA and Architects of a Better Mind. Your presentation and professionalism was greatly appreciated, and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed participating as much as we enjoyed having you.

    Looking forward to next year,

  3. Phil
    I believe it was Jeff Miller of the Fiberglass Material Council.

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