More LEED-Certified Retrofits Equals More Demand for High-Performance Glass, Experts Say
December 28, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji,

The fact that the square footage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- (LEED) certified existing buildings has surpassed LEED-certified new construction is a positive for the fenestration industry and a win for the country, because it reduces energy consumption and increases energy independence, says Oliver Stepe, senior vice president of YKK AP in Austell, Ga.

According a December 7 news release from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), as of this month, square footage of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction by 15 million square feet on a cumulative basis. Click here to read the story.

"The renewed focus on modernizing the existing building stock is … certainly a sign of the times, but more importantly, a clear indicator that improving the energy performance of the existing USA commercial building stock will be a predominant feature in the market place this decade," Stepe says. "The paradigm shift shall support the creation of more technical and integrated solutions to the building facade and allow building product manufacturers and contractors to look beyond commodity products and focus more on innovation and value-added products and services. Though we may see lower square footage of demand for facades in this decade versus the last, the shift to value add and expanding the use of natural light will demand higher dollars per square foot for the facade and at the same time save energy and enhance society's experience with the built environment."

Valerie Block, LEED accredited professional and senior marketing specialist at DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions in Wilmington, Del. Agrees. "The refurbishment of existing buildings has created an enormous opportunity for the glass industry," she says. "High-performance glazing is an integral part of an energy-efficient home or commercial building. Besides energy conservation, high-performance glass creates a more comfortable living and working environment."

However, the comparatively higher cost and hassle of replacing a glazing system makes it a less common choice for some retrofit projects. To bypass that, glass and glazing companies are coming up with new technologies, says Rob Struble, business communications manager, growth initiatives and performance glazing, for PPG Industries Inc. in Pittsburgh. "For example, one of our PPG Certified Fabricator Program members ... has a clever system for creating very high-performing insulating glass unit performance without the expense of tearing out the existing single-pane glazing system," he says.

"I hope this and other new technologies make building retrofit more relevant and accessible to the glass industry as a whole, which would, in turn, improve the overall energy and environmental performance of buildings across the country," Struble says.

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