BEC Second Day in Las Vegas

by Charles Cumpston

LAS VEGAS-The Glass Association of North America (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference opened its second and final day of meetings at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday, still hosting its capacity crowd of 420 people.

BEC division chairperson Max Perilstein opened the session with the important announcement that the golf tournament was still on despite windy, threatening weather, although there was still some skepticism about whether it would take place. (It did.)

In the meeting room, the first educational session was a discussion of claims preservation and mitigation by Rick Greenleaf and Julie Earnest of Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti, a Colorado-based law firm.

Contractually Speaking

"As bad as you thought it was in the 1980s, it got worse in the '90s, and it's going to get worse still," Greenleaf told attendees in discussing the legal wranglings between owners/developers and contractors. "The sides just keep getting further apart," he added,"and we have to stop it."

Put together a subcontractor contracting policy, he advised, which consists of stop-gaps that you are just not going to accept. The pace of our time is so fast that most subcontractors don't realize when they have hit deal breakers, he said.

Earnest went through the different preservation of claims issues with suggestions on questions that a company has to resolve. (Is the contract too complex, with too many deadlines? Are you going to take on too much responsibility? Are you going to waive claims?)

In discussing project management, she said that the project manager has to be familiar with the contract, so that when situations arise, he or she has more complete information for making a decision. Also, she said to keep a jobsite and dispute file so that when there are disputes, the attorneys have a place to go to find out what happened.

Greenleaf then discussed lien waivers. "They're not lien waivers; they're releases of claims," he stated. He said this is the case 30 percent of the time and the fault is that no one knowledgeable is watching them. He advised that a company only wants to waive its liens to the extent of payment received.

He said one thing he is seeing is that spec-named suppliers are passing on part of their liability to the subcontractor, and the subcontractor has to be aware of this and be sure that it is passed further up the stream. "You have to have a waiver of consequential damages," he advised. "The general contractor has one from the owner, but you don't necessarily have one."

New Product Presentations

For the next session, six people were given 10 minutes each to discuss new products or technologies at their companies.

Scott Hoover of Pilkington North America, kicked it off with a discussion of anti-reflective glass. He pointed out that it is used to limit distracting and annoying reflections and glare, and provided technical information on his company's new OptiView anti-reflective glass. He said that for optimal benefit, the glass should be laminated with the coating on two surfaces, rather than one in a monolithic lite, so that the pyrolytic coating is on both outside surfaces.

Victor Yakin of Halfen Anchoring Systems, talked about innovations in curtainwall anchoring, including the company's new Dynagrip toothed anchor channels, adjustable curtainwall clips for edge-of-slab anchoring (which have three-way adjustability), adjustable brackets for top-of-slab anchoring (also with three-way adjustable; available in four sizes-8, 10, 12 and 14 inches), and tension rod systems for glazing.

Helen Sanders with SAGE Electrochromics, discussed her company's electrically tintable glass. This product is all about preserving the view, she said, not being a privacy product. It controls sunlight transmission and solar heat gain, as well as preventing fading of interior objects. "It allows you to manage the sunlight while preserving the view to the outside," she told attendees. It is available in sizes up to 42.5 by 60 inches. She said that 74 percent of surveyed architects would specify electrochromic glazing, "so your companies are going to be installing it," she said. Currently the price is two to three times the price of a regular system installed.

Tyson Gannon, Technical Glass Products, talked about Pilkington Profilit, which her company is distributing. It has been available in Europe for 25 years and is widely utilized there, but has been used less in the U.S., she said. Its focus is on daylighting and energy efficiency. Profilit is composed of interlocking U-shaped glass channels, she explained. The product is available with a low-E coating, she added.

Chris Dolan of Guardian Industries Corp., talked about laminated glass and high-performance coatings, focusing on solar control. He said that the North American market for laminated glass was 74 million square feet in 2004 and is projected to grow, largely due to use for hurricane mitigation. "This is a real growth area," he told attendees.

Adding a high performance coating for solar control enhances the product and makes for even larger market growth, he added. He described different types of coated laminated glass constructions and their tradeoffs in terms of maintaining visible light transmission and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). "You've got more options today than ever before," he stated.

Valerie Block with DuPont, discussed designing thinner, lighter laminated glass. Her company is supplying SentryGlas Plus, a new thinner, stiffer option to PVB for interlayer. She pointed out that her company supplies both, so it is not a case of one over the other; rather, it is a new option. She said that it can be used with thinner glass, which reduces the weight (approximately 25 percent thinner and lighter) for both the glass and the interlayer, allowing architects to specify larger spans. "The ultra-clear look is what they want in design today," she explained. She also pointed out that thinner means lower costs for installation.

Great Expectations

The final session on the regular educational program was a discussion of what they see as their industries' expectations of contract glaziers by Michael Duffy, HNTB Federal Services Corp., an engineer, and Robert Jernigan, Gensler, an architect.

"You have to understand the challenge of the application in all its dimensions," said Duffy. "We're going to investigate the glazing options fully but rapidly," he explained. "So think holistically."

Listen early in the project and offer solutions, Duffy advised. The owners have to be educated, he said, because then they'll demand better of the architects and engineers. Provide data through audio-visual presentations, which explain what you have to offer and what new solutions are available. "Show how you meet or exceed the various project requirements," he added.

Another piece of advice was to present comparative costs for the various options. "What are the HVAC impacts and thermal loads," Duffy said.

What are architects looking for? "A design and delivery partner," Jernigan said. "Clients have not made the adjustments for occupancy costs as the market has improved. They want to do things quickly with cost control because of those occupancy costs," he told attendees. "So how, as a team, do we do this? How we deliver projects is changing," he said. "Owners want us to deliver a building in 24 to 36 months because that's how far out they can get leases, and we have to figure out how to deliver in that time," he added.

Duffy said that many owners are buying into the increased costs for high-performance glass and framing for sustainable design because of the paybacks over the long term.

"It's a struggle to educate our clients on what they should do," added Jernigan. He made the point that of the 5 billion square feet of commercial office space in the U.S., only .5 billion square feet is owner occupied. He added that at least in the Los Angeles area, clients are increasingly asking what the add-on costs are for a lease because they are increasing (from $3 to $4 to $20 to $30 for maintenance, etc.) which increases the importance of sustainable design.

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