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Industry Companies Talk about Ways Glass and Metal Can Contribute to a Greener Built Environment

Post Time:Apr 23,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:407

Over the past few years the glass industry has become a major player when it comes to energy-efficient buildings, and many glass and window companies have created products that can be used to meet such performance criteria. In celebration of Earth Day 2009, USGNN.com™ talked to glass and metal companies about the role that they see these products having to play in the push toward creating a more sustainable building envelope.

"Environmental awareness in the glass and metal industry takes two forms, green products and green manufacturing processes," explains Steve Fronek, vice president and leader of Wausau Window and Wall Systems' technical services team. "The importance of high-performance spectrally-selective glass in reducing heat loss, limiting solar gain, and harvesting natural daylight is recognized by all people involved in sustainable design; frame performance is also considered critical. Model energy codes are constantly being updated to reflect technological advances and higher owner expectations. In addition, we see significantly increased interest in sustainability of the processes used to manufacture building products, from life-cycle analysis to carbon footprint reduction to growing demand for products manufactured in LEED-certified manufacturing facilities."

According to Henry Taylor, manager, architectural services team, for Kawneer Co. Inc., aluminum products manufacturers all have a story to tell for Earth Day since one of the greatest attributes of aluminum is its recyclable nature. Taylor says aluminum is one of the world's most recyclable metals.

"In fact, it is estimated that approximately 70 percent of the aluminum ever produced since the late 1800s is still in use today. A lifecycle analysis of aluminum frames shows a product that, if properly finished and maintained, will perform as intended for years," says Taylor. "When the project is renovated or replaced, the aluminum frames can be recycled and used as frames on another project."

On the glass side, Wayne Boor, technical services manager for PPG Industries, says much of the demand for high-performance glazing materials has been codes-driven.

"Nationwide, codes are becoming stricter and have started requiring high-performance glass," Boor said.

James Bogdan, green initiatives manager, also with PPG agrees.

"We've seen a convergence of the market and an increase in the volatility of all energy prices, especially over the past seven years … as a result [there have been efforts] to get code requirements on the same page and that's driving the demand for low-E glass," Bogdan says.

Boor adds, "Also with the development of energy modeling software we are now able to quantify the net energy and dollar savings from the use of low-E glass."

Bogdan agrees, saying that as a result of modeling software architects and engineers are looking at creating more integrated designs that incorporate all the elements and systems of the building working together… its orientation, the façade, HVAC, roofing … all of these go into the overall energy performance of the building.

"It's not unheard of these days to have different glass all the different sides of the building," Boor adds.

Bogdan agrees, "More and more designs are also considering daylighting so we are seeing strategic designs in which different glass types are placed on the different facades of the building."

Glass performance has evolved tremendously in the past 20 to 30 years. Boor notes that the U-value that can be achieved from double or triple glazing with a low-E coating is far beyond what it was 20 years ago. He says that PPG worked with Architectural Energy Corp. (AEC) to conduct an energy analysis study, which looked at different buildings styles throughout the United States and compared the different glazing types on each. Boor said a white paper was ultimately published that showed the annual dollar savings as well as carbon emissions is tremendous when high-performance glazing materials are used.

Likewise, Kawneer and PPG have both been awarded Cradle to CradleSM environmental product certifications.

"Cradle to Cradle is an independent U.S. environmental certification process for materials and products, assessing the total impact of a product on human health and the environment. And, when aluminum is used in conjunction with a high-performance thermal break, you can achieve an architecturally driven, energy-efficient façade," says Taylor. "By adding sunshades to the exterior and light directing louvers or shade cloths to the interior, you can increase the efficiency of the glass and glazing solution, thereby reducing the energy and operating costs of a commercial building. Increased shading, harvesting natural daylight, natural ventilation and thermal performance along with aluminum all contribute to our company's sustainable vision for a greener future."

Bogdan adds that within the LEED® points system there is also an innovation in design credit and Cradle to Cradle certified products can contribute to earning points in that category. He adds, though, that no product manufacturer can guarantee a certain number of points; only that there products can contribute to earning points.

Source: USGNN.comAuthor: shangyi

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