Companies Talk about Ways Glass and Metal Can Contribute to a Greener
April 22, 2009
Over the past few years the glass industry has become a major player
when it comes to energy-efficient buildings, and many glass and
window companies have created products that can be used to meet
such performance criteria. In celebration of Earth Day 2009, USGNN.com
talked to glass and metal companies about the role that they see
these products having to play in the push toward creating a more
sustainable building envelope.
"Environmental awareness in the glass and metal industry takes
two forms, green products and green manufacturing processes,"
explains Steve Fronek, vice president and leader of Wausau Window
and Wall Systems' technical services team. "The importance
of high-performance spectrally-selective glass in reducing heat
loss, limiting solar gain, and harvesting natural daylight is recognized
by all people involved in sustainable design; frame performance
is also considered critical. Model energy codes are constantly being
updated to reflect technological advances and higher owner expectations.
In addition, we see significantly increased interest in sustainability
of the processes used to manufacture building products, from life-cycle
analysis to carbon footprint reduction to growing demand for products
manufactured in LEED-certified manufacturing facilities."
According to Henry Taylor, manager, architectural services team,
for Kawneer Co. Inc., aluminum products manufacturers all have a
story to tell for Earth Day since one of the greatest attributes
of aluminum is its recyclable nature. Taylor says aluminum is one
of the world's most recyclable metals.
"In fact, it is estimated that approximately 70 percent of
the aluminum ever produced since the late 1800s is still in use
today. A lifecycle analysis of aluminum frames shows a product that,
if properly finished and maintained, will perform as intended for
years," says Taylor. "When the project is renovated or
replaced, the aluminum frames can be recycled and used as frames
on another project."
On the glass side, Wayne Boor, technical services manager for PPG
Industries, says much of the demand for high-performance glazing
materials has been codes-driven.
"Nationwide, codes are becoming stricter and have started
requiring high-performance glass," Boor said.
James Bogdan, green initiatives manager, also with PPG agrees.
"We've seen a convergence of the market and an increase in
the volatility of all energy prices, especially over the past seven
as a result [there have been efforts] to get code requirements
on the same page and that's driving the demand for low-E glass,"
Boor adds, "Also with the development of energy modeling software
we are now able to quantify the net energy and dollar savings from
the use of low-E glass."
Bogdan agrees, saying that as a result of modeling software architects
and engineers are looking at creating more integrated designs that
incorporate all the elements and systems of the building working
its orientation, the façade, HVAC, roofing
all of these go into the overall energy performance of the
"It's not unheard of these days to have different glass all
the different sides of the building," Boor adds.
Bogdan agrees, "More and more designs are also considering
daylighting so we are seeing strategic designs in which different
glass types are placed on the different facades of the building."
Glass performance has evolved tremendously in the past 20 to 30
years. Boor notes that the U-value that can be achieved from double
or triple glazing with a low-E coating is far beyond what it was
20 years ago. He says that PPG worked with Architectural Energy
Corp. (AEC) to conduct an energy analysis study, which looked at
different buildings styles throughout the United States and compared
the different glazing types on each. Boor said a white paper was
ultimately published that showed the annual dollar savings as well
as carbon emissions is tremendous when high-performance glazing
materials are used (CLICK
HERE to read the white paper).
Likewise, Kawneer and PPG have both been awarded Cradle to CradleSM
environmental product certifications.
"Cradle to Cradle is an independent U.S. environmental certification
process for materials and products, assessing the total impact of
a product on human health and the environment. And, when aluminum
is used in conjunction with a high-performance thermal break, you
can achieve an architecturally driven, energy-efficient façade,"
says Taylor. "By adding sunshades to the exterior and light
directing louvers or shade cloths to the interior, you can increase
the efficiency of the glass and glazing solution, thereby reducing
the energy and operating costs of a commercial building. Increased
shading, harvesting natural daylight, natural ventilation and thermal
performance along with aluminum all contribute to our company's
sustainable vision for a greener future."
Bogdan adds that within the LEED® points system there is also
an innovation in design credit and Cradle to Cradle certified products
can contribute to earning points in that category. He adds, though,
that no product manufacturer can guarantee a certain number of points;
only that there products can contribute to earning points.
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