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USGNN Original StoryThe BEC Conference is Live in Las Vegas

The Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, sponsored by the BEC Division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA), kicked off in earnest on Monday morning. Contract glaziers filtered into the Pearl Theater, part of the Palms in Las Vegas, to find seats as the speaker system boomed "We Will Rock You," setting quite the tone for this top-notch educational event. Outgoing BEC chair Max Perilstein kept things lively with introductions to a number of informative presentations on topics ranging from legal advice, to product trends to certification cautions, as well as a keynote speech from Russ Ebeid, president of Guardian Glass (CLICK HERE for related story).

Richard Kalson of Thorp Reed & Armstrong LLP presented on "Risk Management through Contract Administration." He pointed out, "You have to make sure all of your people company-wide follow the same rules." As he noted, the law sees each regional representative as able to represent the company in their decisions, and so everyone needs to be on the same page as to what is allowable in a contract. He recommended conference calls once or twice a year to go over contract rules with regional reps. Among items to not leave out, he said, was the very simple principle: get it in writing. He noted that he's worked with a number of clients who are several months into a job while still waiting to have a contract finalized. Take note of the prime contract was another recommendation.

Bill Yanek, GANA executive vice president, spoke further on "Energy: A Crisis, Challenge, and Opportunity for the Flat Glass Industry" (CLICK HERE to view the™ video interview with Yanek on this topic).

"We are energy intensive [as an industry]; there's no way around that," Yanek commented.

He emphasized that it won't serve the industry well to stay in a "defensive crouch" as to the manufacturing process' greenhouse gas of emissions, but rather needs to focus on the critical ways in which glass can contribute to greening buildings.

Vince Van Son of Alcoa came prepared for his speech on photovoltaics (PV) with a sample solar module. He provided an overview of the building blocks of PV systems, and noted that a lot of fabrication work can be done with the glass modules--but it can quickly become very expensive, more so once the package is integrated into a building façade. However, he noted that there are lots of expensive façade choices that provide no benefits beyond aesthetics.

Van Son closed with the interesting observation that within the ten minutes of his presentation, the Earth received more energy from the sun than we used in the last two months.

Marcus Burkhart of Enclos Corp. had some very salient points when it came to safety, during his talk, "Safety in the 21st Century: What is Required on the Job Site?"

"Why is it we have to fight daily to get people to comply with safety?" he asked. "All we want is to make sure no one gets hurt and no one dies."

And yet, as he pointed out, it often is a struggle to ensure that proper procedures are followed at all times. He commented that the familiar refrain of "safety is a priority" somehow "didn't sit right with me. Why does it have to be a priority? Priorities change." As soon as a shipment is late, or some other delay occurs, those priorities might be readjusted, he explained.

According to Burkhart, the key is changing the behavior of employees about safety rather than threatening with consequences.

He added, "The hardest thing about safety, the key to safety, is doing the right thing when no one is looking."

Also during the conference, Perilstein took a moment to recognize Greg Carney, GANA technical director, and Kim Mann, GANA legal counsel, with awards for their hard work and assistance over the course of his four years as BEC chair. Henry Taylor of Kawneer will succeed Perilstein as chair. Click on the video for a few words from the outgoing and incoming BEC chairs.

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