Seeing green at GPD
Energy efficiency tops conference agenda in Finland
Presentation topics ranged from energy ratings to better low-emissivity coatings, and window thermal performance to longer-lasting insulating glass spacers. About 1,000 industry representatives from more than 60 countries attended the event, June 15-18 in Tampere, Finland.
Even the changed name of the conference—Glass Performance Days—reflects the green focus. “It gives us a better description of the real objective of our conference,” said Jorma Vitkala, chairman of the organizing committee for GPD.
The glass industry’s close connection to energy efficiency presents great growth opportunities, said Mika Seitovirta, president and CEO of Finland’s Glaston Corp., during the opening session. “So many other industries are desperately searching for something green,” he said. “We are right there already. … There’s a great future ahead.”
The glass industry already offers many tools to curb global climate change, added Arthur Ulens, president of AGC Flat Glass and CEO of Glaverbel in Brussels, during the opening session.
Thermal insulation, solar control coatings, low-E IG and photovoltaics are several glass industry contributions the industry can make to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Ulens said. “Glass is an immediate solution.”
Several speakers also discussed new technologies and additional products that can further improve efficiency.
Thomas Hofman, head of research and development and project manager for Centrosolar Glas GmbH & Co. KG in Germany introduced FoilGlass, a highly thermal insulating product currently in testing that consists of a bottom tempered glass lite and a plastic foil top layer.
“The foil layer greatly improves thermal insulation,” Hofmann said. “It’s far ahead the transmittance of a normal IG unit.”
While the product’s transparency does not compare to glass, its thermal insulation can lead to about 50 percent energy savings, making the product usable in applications such as greenhouses or rooftop areas.
Energy savings also comes by producing longer-lasting products, said Gerhard Reicher, vice president of business development for Edgetech I.G. Inc. of Cambridge, Ohio. In his presentation “Improving long-term energy performance of insulating glass in buildings,” Reichert discussed two spacers recently introduced to the market that can extend the life of an insulating glass unit by preventing failures on the primary seal.
Most IG units have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. “IG in the future can be made more sustainable in the long term,” Reicher said. “We’ve developed new ways of applying poly-isobutylene so you don’t get the stresses and the movement that cause failures. … The PIB cannot deform over time.”
Reichert said with the spacers, the sealant will no longer determine the life of an IG unit.
Wolfgang Friedl, head of the after sales department for Germany’s Grenzebach Maschinenbau GmbH, said his company is developing a vacuum insulating glass production line. While several companies have vacuum glass products, none have made notable progress into the market, he said.
The Grenzebach line, set to be operational in 2009, would produce VIG with a very low metric U-value of less than .4, Friedl said.
“The potential is huge for VIG,” Friedl said. “Still today, more than 60 percent of buildings are equipped with monolithic glazing. … VIG is very slim and can be used in new and existing building as a replacement for monolithic.”
Read about more developments at GPD in next week’s e-glass weekly and in the August issue of Glass Magazine.
—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter editor, e-glass weekly