Green building to drive glass demand
The glass industry should be thankful for the green movement, said Russ Huffer, chairman and CEO, Apogee Enterprises Inc., Minneapolis. “The glass industry is more valued today than ever before,” he said, Feb. 17, during the closing session of the Building Envelope Contractors Conference in Las Vegas.
Commercial buildings are the largest users of electricity, consuming 20 percent of power generated in the United States, Huffer said. Of that electricity used by commercial buildings, 40 percent is used for artificial lighting and air conditioning. “We have a great ability to affect that with our products and services,” he said. The use of spectrally selective coated glass can reduce lighting and HVAC energy consumption by 25 percent, he said.
To capitalize on this green demand for glass, glass and curtain wall companies need to develop products that: manage daylight by harvesting light, manage thermal properties of metal glazing systems and restrict solar heat gain. Spectrally selective glass products allow daylight, reducing reliance on artificial light, but blocks infrared energy, reducing heat gain and the need for as much HVAC.
One challenge with many all-glass buildings is too much light, creating expensive fixes such as retrofit blinds or shading devices, higher HVAC costs, glare and furniture fading, Huffer said. Glass companies need to continue improving products to develop glass that “harvest the right amount of light,” he said.
Despite the economic situation, “our marketplace is ripe with opportunity” because of green demand, Huffer said. “We have to keep promoting glass—keep promoting the view—and remain competitive.”