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USGNN Original StoryUSGNN Editors Pick Top Stories of 2008

For many who work in the glass industry 2008 may be remembered for much of what it brought, and even, in some cases, took away. This past year saw the emergence of Building Information Modeling, a continued push toward green building and solar technologies and the increasing demand for decorative glazing products. The year also took away some operating facilities and cancelled a number of building contracts. Yes, 2008 was certainly a year of both gains and losses. But what was the headline of 2008? Most everyone is likely to have a different take on that, including the USGNN.com™ editors. Here are some of our top headlines and stories for 2008.

"Of course the economy dominates everything," says USGlass/usgnn.com publisher Debra Levy. "But if I had to choose top stories per se, I would say the European Commission's fines against the glass manufacturers, both for the boldness and the size of the fines. Couple this with the fact that most of the companies charged deny the accusation and it's quite a story. Although the actual fines took place in November 2007, the impact was felt well into this year due to the resulting litigation in this country. The emergence of solar glazing as the next growth area for our industry is another important story and bright spot for the industry now and in the future," she added.

Editor Charles Cumpston sees a number of issues as being key headlines from 2008.

"The economy, of course, has been the big story of 2008. Fortunately, it has not had its full impact on the commercial construction industry just yet. The continued growth in the last year of the green movement has been a positive for the commercial glass and metal industry because of the environmental friendly qualities of the materials and the products that the industry has developed to fulfill the need for energy efficiency. It was possible to assess all these factors at the glasstec show in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the global industry came together in one location. The shifting centers of influence around the globe--China, Russia, Eastern Europe--point out how much our industry has become international and the impact that the global economy plays on our industry (CLICK HERE for related story).

Editor Ellen Rogers also sees the state of the economy a key headline from 2008.

"On January 16, 2008 we published information from the AIA (CLICK HERE to read that story) that stated: 'Led by demand for institutional projects, the growth in 2008 is expected to be at a slower pace than recent years, with commercial projects likely to see the most decrease. Also there is expected to be continued volatility in the costs of building materials.' Not long after, headlines about price increases, plant shutdowns and layoffs started showing up rather frequently on USGNN. On February 2 AGC Flat Glass North America in Kingsport, Tenn., announced layoffs and then a few months later announced plans for "realignment." On February 4 we ran that Westshore Glass of Tampa, Fla., filed for bankruptcy (CLICK HERE) and just a few weeks later announced its intention to lay off 113 employees of its employees (CLICK HERE). In more recent months, PPG has closed a plant and Viracon announced layoffs in Statesboro, Ga., and Owatonna, Minn. This tough economy will definitely continue to make headlines in 2009, possibly even into 2010."

"It certainly has been a tumultuous year," agrees USGlass editor Megan Headley, "and we've seen a number of company transformations. Related to the AGC realignment noted above, glass companies began to explore some new opportunities. Green trends remained hugely important, but we also began to hear a tremendous amount of news about solar energy and business opportunities for glass companies. Back on February 13, Glasstech announced the formation of its new solar systems business (CLICK HERE for the announcement and HERE to see related video interview). In May, Architectural Glass & Aluminum Co. partnered with thin film producer Heliovolt to create building integrated photovoltaic products (CLICK HERE). Later that month, Cardinal announced plans to open a solar panel factory (CLICK HERE), and then in June Arch Aluminum & Glass followed suit (CLICK HERE). In October, solar energy was even the theme of this year's biggest glass show, glasstec (CLICK HERE). Now, in the last couple of weeks, we've even begun hearing about transparent photovoltaic windows (CLICK HERE) and other innovations, and I have no doubt this will increase in 2009."

What do you think was the top story of the year? CLICK HERE to discuss this and other stories on the USGNN.com message forum.

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