The National Glass Association’s (NGA) Glass Conference is underway this week at the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. Opening day discussions centered on codes and standards, but the conversation turned to high-performance windows Wednesday, and recognitions for glass industry members.

The NGA’s Glass Conference is underway this week at the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Steve Selkowitz, an affiliate with the Building Technology and Urban Systems Development unit for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), believes single-glazed buildings should become like dinosaurs: extinct. But change happens slowly, Selkowitz suggested.

He discussed several options and opportunities to update U.S. buildings with high-performance windows.

According to Selkowitz, the long-term goal includes reaching net zero energy performance. He said the industry has seen some jurisdictions establishing building energy and carbon policies. Energy efficiency, he said, is essential to achieving these goals.

Renovation is one of the significant steps toward net-zero design, Selkowitz explained. Also driving the change toward high performance includes a push for resiliency, decarbonization, health and well-being, and more.

“If we’re going to do anything about carbon in 2050, we have to look at existing buildings,” said Selkowitz. “If you don’t change them, we will never reach these aggressive goals.”

He said that buildings are durable, and changes happen slowly. This means many buildings and homes still have single-glazed windows. Challenges to these changes include complicated and expensive retrofit and renovation costs. The good news is that there are many options to improve performance.

Steve Selkowitz spoke about ways that fenestration and glazing can contribute to better-performing existing buildings.

According to Selkowitz, some of the façade retrofit options include sash replacement, glazing replacement and secondary window systems. He explains that there is a significant need for these materials; in the U.S., 2.4 million commercial buildings have single-pane glass—40% of buildings. Better windows can address heating and cooling costs, while improving daylighting and acoustics, air leakage, condensation and thermal comfort, he said.

One of the obstacles to overcome is the perceived increased costs of installing high-performance glazing products. However, better-performing window systems can lead to smaller (and therefore less expensive) HVAC systems and lower heating and cooling costs.

Several organizations, such as the Façade Tectonics Institute, are also working with the U.S. Department of Energy to support and accelerate the adoption of high-performance fenestration and façade solutions for commercial buildings.

While better-performing products can mean many benefits in terms of energy and carbon use, and costs, Selkowitz said the real benefit is the people and occupants inside buildings. Improved building performance also means improved occupant performance, comfort, health and satisfaction, he suggested.

Awards and Recognitions

Aaron Thompson with Viracon, who has been involved with the association since 2016, was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year.

During the volunteer celebration dinner on Wednesday night, the NGA recognized some of its volunteer members for their dedication, support and service to the industry. Bill Sullivan with Brin Glass and Tim McGee with Glass Coatings and Concepts are retiring and have received special recognition. Dave Evans with Guardian Glass was also recognized for his work in the industry, particularly as the group’s mirror technical liaison.

Finally, the Volunteer of the Year award was given to Aaron Thompson with Viracon. Thompson has been involved in the association since 2016 and is the Fabricating Committee chairperson.

The event concludes Thursday, February 8.

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