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AGGA Presenters Discuss Australian, Global Economic and Market Trends

Post Time:Sep 11,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:406

The world’s economy has begun to turn around, but consumer confidence is still pessimistic—that was part of the discussion from Saul Eslake, director of the productivity growth program for the Grattan Institute, an affiliate of Australia’s University of Melbourne, during the Australian Glass and Glazing Association’s annual conference, which took place September 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Coolum in Queensland.

According to Eslake, while Australia has not been without its challenges, so far it has seen a “good crisis,” as compared to the rest of the world in that it has not experienced a recession as defined by economists as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

Eslake also noted that Australia, unlike other countries, has not had a housing burst and he does not expect to have one.

“Housing prices have not fallen because 1) we do not have enough houses to start with; 2) very few Australians have gotten themselves into a position where they could not service their mortgages; but the primary reason is because banks did not leave interest rates too high too long,” said Eslake.

As far as his outlook for the Australian construction sector, it’s not unlike that of North American economists. Eslake said while the residential sector is expected to pick up, non-residential is expected to drop.

“Office vacancy rates have risen significantly over the past 18 months,” said Eslake, who added, “non-residential approvals have also fallen more sharply than they did in the 1990s.”

Another positive for Australia that Eslake pointed out has been the country’s low exposure to international trade and the fact that it is not a significant exporter of manufactured goods.

In addition to the views of the Australian economy and market, conference presenters also discussed worldwide perspectives, as did Henrik Reims from Finland’s Glaston Group. Reims’ presentation took a look at glass and energy trends, “Europe and beyond.”

According to Reims, by 2020 Europe is forecasting significant changes in regard to energy consumption and renewable energy, i.e, a 20-percnet reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a transition to renewables.

“Glass has a big role to play in this,” said Reims, who explained that one of the latest trends they have seen is the “plus energy house,” one that actually provides energy.

“You are not only balancing energy, but producing it as well,” he said.”

Reims also provided a look at some of the architectural trends Europe is seeing currently. These include new and unique geometries.

“These are very open with glass all around,” Reims said. “Houses and buildings are getting more light and that enables us to have lots of glass, natural light, as well as energy savings.”

He also noted the trend toward “twisted buildings.”

“[We’re seeing] different shapes … and that’s putting lots of pressure on the quality of glass,” said Reims.

Some of the other trends he discussed were screen-printing on facades; increasingly larger glass lites (up to 12 meters); as well as using glass as a structural element. “[Here] the glass is not an add-on piece, but an actual part of the structure,” said Reims.

In addition to these trends, Reims also talked about the opportunity for solar glazing.

“There’s no better material than glass to be integrated into these many different solar applications,” he said.

For example, with the Desertec program in the Sahara, if 1 percent of its geographic area is established as a solar farm, it could provide all of the electrical needs of the world.

“A lot of glass [would be] needed,” Reims added.

Read more about the Australian glass and glazing industry in future issues of USGlass magazine.

-Ellen Rogers, a USGNN.com™contributing writer, is in Australia reporting on the event.

Source: usgnnAuthor: shangyi

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