BEC Continues in Las Vegas

The Glass Association of North America (GANA) Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference, taking place at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with a capacity crowd of 420 people, tackled a number of technical subjects in its Monday afternoon educational program.

Under the stewardship of Max Perilstein, BEC division chairperson, the session opened with a presentation from Stephen Selkowitz of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, on the impact of the glass industry on energy usage and the various factors that influence energy efficiency and comfort.

He said that better-performing facades are an opportunity for contract glaziers.

He made the point that many mostly glass buildings are making "green" claims, but his question is: How really energy efficient are they? Selkowitz said it is important to integrate the façade with the lighting and HVAC to maximize energy efficiency, because even if an energy efficient curtainwall is installed but occupants close the blinds to avoid glare and keep the lights on, then energy usage is not what it might appear to be.

He pointed to a number of current projects, which have advanced integrated energy systems. One is the San Francisco Federal Building, which has natural ventilation; another was the New York Times headquarters building, an all-glass tower, which has an integrated shading system, as well as other energy efficient techniques.

The focus of his presentation was the role of effective shading in making an energy efficient, user-friendly building. His laboratory worked on the research work done for the Times building on design questions.

One of the building's design goals was that there be no place where an employee does not see natural light and a view. He described the procedure Times officials went through to determine the most effective design for the structure. A 4,000 square foot mock up was constructed because the company thought it would learn enough to more than pay for the expense in construction savings.

Selkowitz stated, "Since I've argued why glare and solar control is so important, why not integrate this function into the glazing?" He explained that with electrochromic and photovoltaic technology, this can be done.

The issue for glazing contractors, he pointed out, are the design integration, the wiring, thermal expansion, construction sequencing, and coordination with HVAC and lighting trades. He said that in the future more owners will be more involved in setting requirements for building envelope performance. This would bring the façade suppliers into the process earlier because of the integrated approach which is necessary.

Structural Durability

Larry Carbary of Dow Corning, discussed durability performance, standards and specifications in silicone structural glazing. "What I want to convey is why structural silicone glazing works," he announced. He discussed the durability of the materials used, the correlation of laboratory testing to full-scale testing, and a review of the loads put on the materials during wind and seismic events. He also gave project reviews of in-service buildings and the environments in which they exist.

LEED-er of the Pack

Michael Duffy of HNTB Federal Services Corp., discussed the LEED points system. He went through the math of how LEED certification is given. He gave a sample of sustainable work and explained how LEED is relevant to contract glaziers.

He said that LEED is becoming more popular because it can save owners money without cutting quality. For the glass industry, glazing is a key for LEED-think natural light and its benefits, he told attendees.

Duffy encouraged people to study the LEED manual and take the test to get accredited because this would then allow them to discuss how the services their companies offer can help the owners and designers achieve certification.

"It's a huge and growing market and its directly and indirectly affected by building materials and design decisions, and glass plays a starring role," he said. He encouraged suppliers to define/deliver the next glass "mousetrap" to enable structures to achieve LEED certification.

Tickle Me Aero

Larry Long with Texas Wall Systems Inc., discussed building ventilation. He pointed out that in response to owner and designer requests, the industry has developed structures that are more effective at keeping things such as air and water out of them. This has resulted in more recirculated air which has caused health issues for occupants. Long said that trickle ventilation systems could be utilized to let air in without sacrificing the energy efficiency of the building. He used the example of the Belagio hotel, which is located across the street from the meeting site. He added that virtually every hotel in Las Vegas uses the ventilation technique.

True Labor Costs

The final session was a discussion about the cost of field labor. Bill Keen of Tepco Contract Glazing Inc., and Pat Rome with Lakeview Guidance LLC, led the open discussion.

The first topic was liability insurance costs. Some companies base these costs on gross sales while other use per-hour cost of labor.

Wages are probably the largest expense. Then there are employer taxes, including unemployment, state, health insurance, Medicare and social security. Tools and equipment are also expenses.

Workers Comp insurance and lost time from injury are costs as well as drug testing. A company may also have pension costs.

A company has to consider training, including compulsory safety meetings, as well as holidays, vacation and sick days and coffee breaks. The cost of hiring and what it costs for transportation to a job and security clearance time and expense can also factor into the equation.

At the end of the day, advice from the moderators for attendees to think about:

· Do your estimators work off a per hour rate that includes break-time or do your estimators figure break-time in their hours estimates?
· Do you regularly review financial statements to identify new costs that can be charged directly to a project or calculated into a per hour rate (i.e., new tools, equipment, depreciation charges, mold insurance, etc.)? and
· Do you have a system in place to update labor cost rates after wage increases, benefit changes and renewals, or labor agreement settlements and communicate them to your estimators?

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