AGGA Presenters Discuss Australian, Global Economic and Market
September 10, 2009
The worlds economy has begun to turn around, but consumer
confidence is still pessimisticthat was part of the discussion
from Saul Eslake, director of the productivity growth program for
the Grattan Institute, an affiliate of Australias University
of Melbourne, during the Australian Glass and Glazing Associations
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
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, its
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 countrys 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 Finlands Glaston Group. Reims
presentation took a look at glass and energy trends, Europe
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,
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.
[Were seeing] different shapes
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.
Theres 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.comcontributing writer, is in Australia
reporting on the event.
Need more info and analysis about the issues?
HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.