GANA Fall Conference Attendees Discuss Energy, Environment Issues
August 27, 2010

Energy issues continued to be a topic of conversation for each division of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) during the association’s Fall Conference, held earlier this week in Kansas City, Mo.

Energy Committee Chair Helen Sanders suggested the group work on educating the building community on the energy benefits of glass.

Under new business, GANA executive vice president Bill Yanek proposed that the Energy Committee consider creating an Energy Manual. “There is the potential to put together an energy manual dealing with commercial architectural glazing,” Yanek said. “My vision for it would be something along the lines of we start with the alphabet soup and explain what all these organizations are, what they do … how GANA plays into it. Then we can get into the technologies … and how glass and solar interact.”

The guide would act as a 101 introduction to the topic of energy, with sections ranging from solar to daylighting and topics in between. The committee agreed to first survey the existing literature on these topics to see if a need for this project exists and what type of resources could be used.

The group also heard a proposal from Guardian’s Steve Farrar on behalf of the Flat Glass Manufacturing Division that the committee consider life cycle assessments. “One of the ideas that has taken hold among the green and a lot of the related institutions is the idea of life cycle assessment - figuring out how much energy your product uses from ‘birth’ to ‘death.’” Farrar said. Groups look at data such as energy information from the production process, to shipping, to, in some cases, even energy used by employees to get to work. George Petzen of LinEl pointed out the consideration should be for ‘cradle-to-cradle’ analysis, rather than birth to death, to account for recycling and reuse of glass.

“It seems to me we should think about how we would answer this before we’re forced to come up with an answer,” Farrar said, adding “I think it’s a real blind spot in our industry.”

The committee put together a task group to consider this question and to consider existing work available along these lines.

In addition to these projects, the committee, now chaired by Helen Sanders of SAGE Electrochromic, brainstormed on other issues for future consideration. GANA consultant Tom Culp suggested that the group take a position on whether or not there should be an ENERGY STAR program for commercial windows.

Culp also suggested getting more involved in green codes. Sanders pointed out that these “above-code-codes” are to some degree setting the direction the codes themselves likely will take down the road. Sanders also suggested the group look at additional efforts to educate the building community on the energy benefits of glass.

Later, during the Decorative Division’s Technical Committee meeting, a task group was initiated to look at the recyclability of architectural glass products at large. Committee members pointed out that their division covers a gamut of glass products that can be recycled, but also discussed the opportunity to merge their work with the Energy Committee’s work, potentially in its own new life cycle analysis task group.

The Mirror Division, too, addressed energy and environmental topics. The division is among the first in the association to have published a LEED white paper (the other is the Decorative Division). “We’re ahead of the game,” commented Marc Deschamps of Walker Glass on the publication.

The division also sought to get “ahead of the game” in addressing the use of mirrors in concentrating solar power, rather than waiting for the topic to come up before the Energy Committee. Staff is working to compile a list of manufacturers of solar mirrors and component suppliers in an effort to begin reaching out to this newly recognized segment of the glass industry. The group discussed the possibility of inviting speakers from this industry segment to future meetings, as well as developing mirror information bulletins on using mirrors in the solar industry.

On an environmental note, Deschamps told the group that he has been receiving questions regarding the VOC content in mirrors. He suggested that the group look into creating an industry position paper on, essentially, “What do we tell the market?” As the Technical Committee discussed creating a task group on this topic, other frequently asked environmental questions came up. Ultimately, it was decided that the newest task group would “look into the questions that are being asked from a LEED perspective about mirrors.”

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