We’re providing a recap of the National Glass Association’s most recent NGA Glass Conference. Sessions provided deep dives into current updates to energy and safety codes and legislation. With updates typically made every three years, it’s critical to learn about incremental changes each cycle.
Here is what’s leading glass industry news and trends right now:
House bill H.R.919 – Bird Safe Buildings Act of 2019 has been introduced several times but currently is not active. However, it’s important to pay attention to the language:
Any building “constructed, acquired, or of which more than 50% of the façade is substantially altered…” must be outfitted with some type of bird-safe glazing system.
Ways to comply with this guidance include using glass that is/has:
- UV patterned glass that contains UV reflective coating or contrasting patterns visible to birds
- Visible patterns, such as horizontal spacing less than two inches or vertical spacing less than four inches
- Opaque, etched, stained, frosted, or semitransparent/translucent
Daylighting in Educational Settings
Daylighting in educational settings is becoming a bigger area of focus. Studies have shown that integrating natural light in a school building creates benefits that positively impact learning development. Proposals are pending – but it remains a hot topic globally.
Energy Act of 2020
The Energy Act of 2020 was passed alongside the Coronavirus Relief Bill. Below are a few items to note. This update:
- Streamlines available federal energy efficiency programs to retrofit schools
- Accelerates smart building technology in federal buildings
- Continues to explore the benefits of electrochromic glass
- Reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s solar energy program, which includes research on photovoltaics and photovoltaic recycling
- Incentivizes solar projects and energy efficient commercial buildings
New Focus on Existing Buildings
The focus here is continued interest in achieving optimal energy efficiency in existing buildings. Upgrading buildings with glazing replacement, window replacement, and secondary glazing for commercial secondary windows and storm windows and panels is becoming more economical. Learn more about certification programs for commercial secondary windows and storm windows at the Attachments Energy Rating Council (AERC) website, aercnet.org/certification.
Glazing Design for GSA Building Requirements
On the topic of existing buildings… The General Services Administration (GSA) owns and leases over 376.9 million square feet of space in 9,600 buildings in more than 2,200 communities nationwide. Over 1 million federal employees use a GSA space.
GSA’s session during the NGA Glass Conference provided an in-depth look at glass and glazing requirements – addressing applications for bird-friendly design, protective glazing, security glazing, low energy, and daylighting.
GSA looks at many glazing solutions to refurbish historic windows to lower energy usage. A top priority for many projects includes achieving net zero energy building design – and glass usually plays a large role in these types of projects.
GSA’s guiding principles for sustainable federal buildings following U.S. Code Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare include:
- Integrative design – designed for function first then tuned to the environment
- Energy and water evaluation
- Energy reduction
- Material impacts
- Fossil fuel free
- Life cycle cost
- Predevelopment hydrology
- Solar hot water
- Sustainable design principles
- Renewable energy target
- Sustainable acquisition
- OMB sustainability scorecard
- Energy and greenhouse gas reporting
Other design considerations encompass:
- Daylight and circadian rhythm being addressed in the design
- View and glare review so people can do their work
- Biomimicry also being integrated into the design
- Bird-safe glass and building flow
- Achieving high thermal resistance to aid energy reduction
As reported at the event while discussing glass industry news and trends, there will be continued advancement of energy codes, but at incremental steps. This will begin to broaden at both the local and national level with the new administration’s energy position. Especially in metropolitan cities, project scopes likely will begin incorporating “beyond code” items like existing building emission limits, renewable energy requirements, and net zero energy targets.
For more building & construction insights, contact us.