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Industry representatives respond to glass condo complaints in Toronto

Post Time:Nov 29,2011Classify:Industry NewsView:115

CBC News recently ran several stories alleging many of Toronto's glass condo towers will fail 15 to 25 years after construction due to problems such as insulation failures and water leaks.One developer quoted in aNov. 14 article article went so far as to call glass-walled condos “throw-away buildings” because of their short lifespan relative to buildings with walls made of concrete or brick.

According to several glass industry representatives, the CBC News items neglect to consider buildings with properly designed and installed glass units, and to address overall construction quality concerns. "Clearly, there is muck-raking going on at the expense of the glass industry," says Rob Botman, general manager of Glassopolis, Toronto. "The latest round of stories is about other cheap construction practices and portraying these issues unfairly as glass issues. ... You can get properly designed [glass] systems that are watertight, well insulated, and provide excellent solar control and privacy."

Chris Dolan, director, commercial glass marketing for Guardian Industries, agrees. "In general, window wall systems are appropriate for use on high-rise projects, and [are] an economic alternative to curtain wall," he says. "Window wall systems have performed well overall. The key is in the details of design, quality, construction and installation."

Alessandro Fenzi, director of Fenzi Group, with North American headquarters in Toronto, says the CBC News report does address a "real issue" of poor quality IG units finding their way into projects. This becomes much more problematic when the units are part of all-glass wall systems. "Not enough attention has been given to the quality of the glass installed in the building," he says. "The importance of glass has increased [as glass has gone] from being a small part in a wall to becoming the wall. This means that the performance and quality of the glass—especially insulating glass—are now extremely important."

The CBC News piece also addressed the energy performance concerns of glass and glazing, something the glass industry is continually improving. "Glass manufacturers have made significant strides in lower solar heat gain low-emissivity coatings, while letting in ample amounts of light to save electricity," Dolan says. Guardian, for example, recently launched several new products, including SunGuard IS 20, that provide lower U-factor. "We expect more improvement in the future through coatings and other technologies," Dolan adds.

Fenzi said he welcomes the news articles, if they help increase consumer awareness about the importance of investing in high-quality glass systems. "It doesn't make sense for a consumer to invest in an energy-saving window and, only a few months after installation, for that window to turn into an energy eater due to faults in the components used in the insulating glass."

Fenzi says he would like to see the insulating glass industry shift its attention even more to the performance of a product over its life, rather than just on day one. He recommends even more stringent IG standards, and an increased focus on the part of IG manufacturers on components such as sealants to ensure retention of gas fill. "If the insulating glass units [are] manufactured properly, with the correct components, then the CBC report is not correct. Gas retention will be perfect and energy saving will be there for a long time," he says. "If ... design faults will continue to be allowed, then CBC is right—many IGUs [will lose] argon in the first 12 months."

"Our industry has to be careful," Fenzi says. "The media have now placed glass in the spotlight. We cannot afford any risk—we all must deliver what our customers have paid for."

Despite the news reports, industry representatives expect glass to continue to be the envelope product of choice for architects and owners. "Customers like glass curtain walls," Botman says. "It adds value right away to the project. That's why they are used everywhere. ... If you are going to buy a 500-square-foot condo 30 stories up, you better believe that the view is the best part of your unit. Enjoy it."

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Source: http://www.glassmagazine.com/news-item/commercial/industry-representatives-respond-glass-condo-complaints-toronto-119082Author:

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