As Energy Codes Evolve, So Too Do Opportunities for Glass
March 2, 2011

Last month President Obama introduced the "Better Buildings Initiative" plan, which calls for making commercial buildings 20-percent more energy-efficient by 2020. Many in the glass industry say the program is a positive, encouraging sign and are optimistic about its future.

"The glass industry is playing a critical role in helping to reduce energy consumption by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Buildings account for 40 percent of total energy consumption, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, windows alone are responsible for approximately 4 percent of the nation's total energy usage," says Rob Joyce, director of Global Government Affairs for Guardian Industries. "Fortunately, advances made by our industry to improve the solar control and insulation properties of glass, and to promote a fuller understanding of the benefits of daylighting, are helping to significantly reduce this energy consumption."

And while glazing products certainly have a role to play in terms of creating an energy-efficient structure, building codes can also play a big part when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, codes such as the International Code Council's International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the newly developed International Green Construction Code (IGCC) address the initiative's focus on improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country.

"The International Energy Conservation Code and the International Green Construction Code Public Version 2.0 are two major resources that, with appropriate enforcement capability, can deliver on the initiative's energy-efficient goals for buildings, and upgrade sustainability in existing and new American office buildings, stores, schools, city halls, county buildings, state capitols, federal buildings, universities, hospitals and commercial buildings in general," says ICC chief executive officer Richard P. Weiland.

Members of the glass and glazing industry also agree that building codes can be a positive step toward energy-efficient construction.

"I agree that both the IECC and IGCC will play a major role in pushing for greater energy efficiency. What shape that role takes (positive or negative) heavily depends upon how code development bodies interact with industries impacted by the codes," says Bill Yanek, executive vice president for the Glass Association of North America (GANA). "GANA's Glazing Industry Code Committee is proactively engaging code promulgating organizations with the message that energy-efficient glass is not anathema to energy-efficient buildings. In fact, without the reasonable use of energy-efficient glass, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings becomes more difficult, if not impossible."

Rich Walker, president and chief executive officer of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, says his organization is also pleased to see the push for greater energy efficiency and more efficient building design on a national scale.

"The building envelope and selection of fenestration products play an integral role in the energy savings of a completed structure. For example, designing a building to maximize daylighting not only increases the amount of natural light brought into the building but also decreases the need for electrical lighting. Additionally, more efficient windows, such as the double and triple glazed windows that we are increasingly seeing in a commercial setting, help buildings to maintain interior temperatures, thus easing the heating and cooling demands."

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.