Energy Efficiency Means a Big Push for Australia's Glass Industry
September 9, 2009
The glass industry in Australia is not all that different from
North America's. Both areas are dealing with similar issues: the
global economic downturn; impending requirements for increased energy
efficiency and awareness; evolving standards and building codes
And in both parts of the world glass companies recognize that it
is their industry that can best determine how glass can be used
to meet the growing demands. So in Australia, as in North America,
glass producers and processors join together annually to discuss,
debate and work toward bettering their industry. With the theme
to "Aim Higher," the Australian Glass and Glazing Association
(AGGA) did just that at its annual meeting last week at the Hyatt
Regency Coolum, located on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Close to
300 attendees from the Australian glass industry, as well as a handful
of representatives from other countries, gathered to take part in
the three-day conference.
began on Thursday, September 4 with Nigel Carpenter, AGGA executive
director, discussing the association's future. Recently they held
a strategic workshop where they began work on developing a one-,
three- and five-year strategic plan, with the goal of "shaping
and growing the demand for glass used in the built environment by
positioning it positively in the broad sustainability debate."
Six key actions were put in place: advocacy; education/training;
collaborating with other groups; focusing on product quality and
standard compliance; representation of membership; and governance.
Chris Barker with the Australian Glass Group and Howard Wigham with
Viridian next provided an overview of the Australian glass market
as a whole.
"Australia is less impacted than other economies [by the global
downturn], but globally glass has not been spared," said Barker,
noting that global capacity is down about 20 percent since last
year. "In Australia glass demand is a function of building
we are starting to see some positives."
Barker predicted some residential recovery moving forward, but added
that the commercial side is still experiencing a "reasonable
One topic that got a good bit of discussion was the government's
Six Star regulation (similar to Energy Star for residential buildings
in the United States). The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)
is striving to increase the energy efficiency provision in the 2010
edition of its building code, which has placed significant emphasis
on glass, having stated: "With most other building elements
at practical limits of thermal performance glazing is the remaining
pathway to better ratings."
But Australia still has a ways to go to get to where it needs to
be in terms of energy-efficient glazing usage. For example, according
to one chart Barker showed, low-E glass is only used in about 5
percent of new residential construction on the state of New South
Wales; the expectation is to reach 25 percent by 2012.
Barker added that the use of value-added glass in the residential
market as a whole is forecast to grow about 45 percent by 2012.
"A goal well worth aiming higher for," he said.
Wigham continued that discussion of energy efficiency.
"It's a great opportunity and [represents] an enormous impact
on glass and windows-and it's more than just IG, as it's dependent
upon where you live so it could be solar control, etc.," said
The awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency are real,
he pointed out.
"Consumers are hungry for answers and we have the opportunity
to provide a solution," he said.
Much like the North American market, Wigham also emphasized that
the types of glass and windows that will be required will be dependent
on the climate zone.
"The answers are different depending upon the location, but
it's becoming driven by regulation; this won't happen unless we
all do our part," he said. "We want the right windows
specified for the right problem."
Stay tuned to USGNN.com for more updates from the AGGA annual
to learn more about the AGGA.
-Ellen Rogers, a USGNN.comcontributing writer, is in Australia
reporting on the event.
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