GANA Fall Conference Attendees Hear How Updated Energy Codes, Standards Will Affect Them
August 26, 2010

Attendees of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fall Conference this week in Kansas City, Mo., heard updates on a number of standard and legislation items. Tom Culp of Birch Point Consulting and GANA’s Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC) gave an update on a variety of energy codes that could potentially affect the glass industry.

Culp began by reviewing the status of the Building Star legislation, SB 3079, currently on hold in Congress.

The good news is everyone accepted our changes; we had to go back and forth but our corrections were accepted … so we’re good to go if the bill goes anywhere,” says Culp.

Precisely, that is the bad news: no movement is expected on the bill anytime this year.

Still, the GICC is looking at the latest activity as positive. As Culp pointed out, the flaws GANA had addressed earlier provided the association with an opportunity to educate the decision-makers on this legislation. “The problem in the first place is they never knew to come to us,” Culp said. “It’s meant to move quickly if this ever happens.”

Culp next addressed glass’ “new competitor: windows versus walls. It’s changed the dynamic a little bit,” he commented. Regarding ASHRAE 90.1, he noted that GANA had recently filed an appeal, scheduled for September 21, on the approval of the latest version. On a positive note, he said, “We have the first recognition of dynamic glazing in the codes.” He said the group hopes to expand this in the future to not just recognize active glazing but promote it. Another positive factor, more or less, is that daylighting designers are also protesting the decreased window-to-wall-ratio and so the glass industry has an ally of sorts.
Culp then offered some insight into what this all might mean for the glass industry.

“My view is you’ll see more of these low-rise office buildings going from strip windows to punched openings. That’s probably the easiest way,” he said. He also predicted that low-E will be required most everywhere, people will start to see a continued increase in thermally broken frames and a large increase in the use of argon and warm-edge spacers. He also suggested that triple glazing will be seen in the north and there’s a potential for more use of structural glazing. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not, but you might see a trend toward structural glazing just because of the U-factor requirements,” he said.

Next on the list, Culp said the 2012 International Energy and Conservation Code (IECC) will be completed in October. At that point, Culp predicts, “[We] will start to see battles in the states about adoption whether they accept this new code in the states or not.”

The updated code likely will have some similarities to ASHRAE 90.1, including a tighter air leakage requirement and minimum skylight area in large open spaces, as well as the 30-percent window-to-wall-ratio limit in its prescriptive path. Unlike the 90.1 standard, the code offers no orientation requirement, no VT/SHGC requirement and decreased U-factor, although not so far as the ASHRAE standard’s requirements.

Culp also looked at the emerging green standards. He pointed out that ASHRAE 189.1, Standard for the Design of High Performance Buildings, offers a 40-percent window-to-wall-ratio. “They want to promote daylighting; we try to use that to our advantage in our arguments with 90.1,” he said. Culp characterizes the relatively new standard as “harsh but fair. It’s tough on everyone.”

He also touched on the drafted International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Culp said the glass industry saw “significant improvements” to the draft in the public hearings last week. Among the results, an option was added to use ASHRAE 189.1 as a full compliance option. According to Culp, the “completely unrealistic” prescriptive requirements, which included a 30-percent window-to-wall-ratio and only one U-factor category which could have required triple or even quadruple glazing for heavy commercial products, was replaced with a reference to the 2012 IECC “plus 10 percent.”

Culp also noted that in the hearings “solar got a huge boost.” The code has expanded requirements for both rooftop panels and building integrated photovoltaics. For starters, it expanded requirement to the entire United States and not just the South. It also removed exceptions based on limited roof area or shading, since there are options to purchase renewable energy credits. In addition, the requirement for purchasing those credits was doubled, promoting both on-site and off-site PV. “It will probably double if not triple demand for solar products, if IGCC goes anywhere,” Culp said.

On top of all of these code changes, Culp pointed to another “overriding trend” he sees taking place in the year ahead. “One is stringency and energy efficiency will significantly increase,” he said. “That’s nothing new. But the other thing that people will forget about is that code enforcement will significantly increase.”

He said that ARRA funding is still coming out, as only 15 percent has been spent, and some of this funding is going to the states to increase code enforcement and adoption.

“Everything’s advancing at once,” Culp commented, adding that “it’s good to be informed on future trends” because a number of rapid changes can be expected in the year ahead.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for updates from the conference.

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