The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) wrapped up its 2016 national summer conference in San Antonio this week. Over three days, 230 attendees heard presentations on cybersecurity, sustainability, electrochromic glazing and other issues of interest to the fenestration industry. Additionally, there were plenty of opportunities for networking, such as a golf tournament and a tour of the Texas Ranger Museum.

Door and Window Market Update 

One highlight for members was an in-depth presentation on AAMA’s 2015/2016 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, which shows that the demand for prime residential windows increased by just over 3 percent in 2015. Nick Limb of Drucker Worldwide, which conducted the study for AAMA, walked attendees through the entire report.

Among other highlights:

  • The demand for windows in new housing increased by just over 6 percent in 2015, with double-digit increases predicted for the next two years as the housing recovery continues;
  • Demand for windows in remodeling and replacement increased by just over 1 percent in 2015, with growth there expected to improve in 2016 as existing home sales strengthen;
  • Total entry door volume reflected a 5 percent growth rate compared to 2014, and it’s expected to continue at a similar pace of 4 percent in both 2016 and 2017;
  • Residential skylights closed the year with a growth rate of just over 2 percent over 2014 volume. New construction skylight activity was up 8 percent, while remodeling-and-replacement skylight activity was up 1 percent versus 2014, and;
  • The 2015 market for non-residential entry doors in the U.S.was up 5 percent over 2014 and up 16 percent since 2013.

Safeguard Your Businesses Online

Keynote speaker Larry D. Sjelin, chief of staff for the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio, advised conference participants to not underestimate the importance of a highly trained IT staff and of regularly changing complex passwords.

“A common misconception is that small and mid-sized businesses aren’t targets for cybersecurity,” Sjelin said. “This is not the case.”

Sjelin quoted a 2015 report on construction technology that found 60 percent of small businesses go under once they have a cyber attack.

“They don’t have the ability to bounce back,” he said.

In addition to this, 87 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses don’t have a formal written internet security policy, and 68 percent don’t provide cybersecurity training. And yet, said Sjelin, 60 percent of attacks in 2015 were against businesses of these sizes.

In order to prevent an attack, Sjelin suggested having best practices in place for how to secure data, dispose of documents, safely use the internet and report incidents or potential threats. He recommended having a business continuity plan (BCP) and/or a disaster recovery plan (DRP).

“A detailed DRP in place says how to deal if your company is targeted,” he explained. “Eight out of 10 small businesses don’t have a basic cyber attack response plan.”

A lack of cloud security was a consistent theme in the 2015 report, he found. As a result, Sjelin asked attendees to invest in dedicated IT personnel and to increase the protectiveness of passwords. He advised against using numerical sequences or birthdays in passwords.

“When it comes to passwords, the longer they are, the better,” he said.

Here are six cybersecurity tips from Sjelin:

1. If you don’t have a shredding program in your business, you need one;
2. Training is key; organize cyber awareness training for everyone on staff;
3. Encrypt portable devices like laptops, smart phones, etc.;
4. Back up everything, and test those backups;
5. Avoid social media and personal email on work computers, especially those which directly handle customer data, and;
6. Never leave your password out on a Post-It note on your desk.

His department has developed a game to educate the next generation about the importance of cybersecurity. Cyber Threat Defender, a new card game, teaches the importance of cyber security while seeking to ingrain the concept into the culture for safety down the road. The game was released three months ago and is similar to Magic: The Gathering, a popular card game.

“The game is part of a national effort toward building this culture of cybersecurity,” said Sjelin.

Sustainability On the Rise

Anna Nicholson, UL’s environmental product declarations (EPD) product manager, gave a presentation about  sustainability market drivers and more during a presentation. Nicholson works to develop strategic partnerships and programs that drive business value from the use of environmental life cycle information as the basis of decision-making.

Nicholson cited a 2015 Claiming Green study that found 70 percent of consumers are consciously searching for greener products. Additionally, it revealed that the global green building market grew in 2013 to $260 billion, including 20 percent of all new U.S. real estate construction.

“The FTC has started cracking down on unsubstantiated claims,” said Nicholson. “EPDs provide a way for us to have scientific backing for claims.”

In turn, Product Category Rules (PCRs) are the standards used to develop EPDs. These allow manufacturers to write EPDs using the same set of rules. An EPD transparently documents how a product affects the environment throughout its life cycle.

“EPDs are useful because they’re objective, since verified by a third party,” said Nicholson. “They’re credible, neutral and instructive.”

Nicholson added that there’s benefit to a company in an EPD as well.

“You can’t manage what you’re not measuring,” she said. “You can use sustainability as a risk-management or mitigation tool.”

Fragmentation is one challenge facing PCR development in North America, Nicholson said. That’s partly due to lack of consistency in documentation.

“There’s also a lack of transparency behind issues driving variability between EPDs and a lack of streamlined processes,” said Nicholson.

To this end, UL and the U.S. Green Building Council have drafted a PCR document, “Bringing Consistency and Increased Transparency to EPDs.”

Electrochromic Glazing: A Bright Future

Helen Sanders, who leads technical development and training for Sage Electrochromics, gave a presentation about the past, present and future of the electrochromic (EC) glazing market.

Sanders’s presentation, “Electrochromic Glazing: State of the Art, State of the Market,” compared the research and development in EC technology from 1989 to the present. Some important aspects of the technology, she said, include its durability, high performance, ability to fit into existing window products and long-term potential. The technology gained momentum 2003 when a U.S. Department of Energy commercial building evaluation was done, as well as a residential one. The next year, production began on the first EC facility, and in 2005, EC glass made its debut at the International Builders’ Show.

In 2006, the first shipments from the production facility went out. Key markets and different applications were targeted. Early proof points in different installation projects were successful, and big projects around the world in different types of buildings had been tested by 2010.

“We were ready to scale up again,” said Sanders.

EC products were limited in exterior color, substrate and size until 2012. The price was relatively high. However, after 2012, there were market changing product developments in size and aesthetics. Enhancements at that time included non-rectangular shapes and improved tinted state. Changes allowed architects to have any exterior color they wanted. Aesthetic flexibility made a big difference in terms of market adoption all around the world.

“We also reduced the visible light transmission because two percent wasn’t cutting it,” said Sanders. “In-pane zoning was a change, too, which lets you control glare while also allowing for daylight admission.”

But what about price? Sanders said electrochromic glazing is within reach.

“In 2012, we hit the point where upfront costs were comparable to those of conventional solutions,” she said.

Sanders added that Sage is seeing larger EC order sizes and more volume in general, and in more diverse applications.

“People know about EC now,” she said. “Architects want it. The focus on human comfort helps drive it.”

But where is EC on the adoption life cycle?

“We’re getting out of the early adopters and into the early majority,” said Sanders. “It took low-e 30 years to get adopted into the market, so it takes time.”

However, she said EC and green living should not be waved off as phases.

“Sustainability of the planet isn’t going away,” she reminded participants. “We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so we want to focus on indoor air and environmental quality.”

For the future of EC specifically, Sanders called for more projects using more than 100,000 square feet of EC glass, as well as further volume expansions and new entries to the market.


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