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Looking Forward, Looking Up

Last week’s 2021 Virtual Conference, hosted by the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance, offered three days of education and information sessions, with presentations covering the shape and nature of economic recovery, safety, sustainability, and the newest legislative updates, among many other topics. Here are just a few takeaways from the conference: check out our full coverage of the online event

1. Look for a ‘jagged swoosh’ economic recovery.

Post-COVID-19 economic recovery is of course on everyone’s mind, and the session “Life on the Other Side: What Does the Economic Future Look Like,” featuring Keynote Speaker Dr. Chris Kuehl, Aramada Corporate Intelligence, provided a comprehensive look at future financial factors in growth and recovery. Kuehl predicts a ‘jagged swoosh’ long-term recovery that will be characterized by fluctuations. “The general idea I support, over the next several years, is that we’ll have periods of growth followed by periods of decline. Some sectors will do well, others won’t do so well,” he says. “Collectively, [growth will] still trend positively, but we’ll have periods where things aren’t going to work well.”

2. Construction spending to be solid in 2021.

Kuehl predicts fairly good construction spending overall in 2021, even for nonresidential building. Building will be tending more towards warehousing and distribution centers, and away from office spaces.

3. Safety pays.

Mike Troutman of MI Windows and Doors provided an outline of how to set up an effective safety program in “Establishing FGIA as a Safety Leader and Proper Accident Investigation Protocol.” Troutman recommended investigating the “$aftey Pays” online tool, offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The tool allows employers to see estimates of how much injury and illnesses of employees can cost a business, and is “intended as a tool to raise awareness of how occupational injuries and illnesses can impact a company's profitability.”

4. Buy American.

There was quite a lot of ground to cover in the “U.S. and Canadian Legislative and Regulatory Report,” especially since we’re in the early days of the new Biden Administration in the U.S. Presenters Kathy Krafka Harkema, FGIA U.S. Codes & Regulatory Affairs Manager, and Marg Webb, FGIA Glass Products and Canadian Industry Affairs Director, provided an overview of the legislative landscapes of the U.S. and Canada.

Harkema focused on the new political appointees of the Biden administration, which include the new Made in America Office. The focus on buying American is a holdover from the Trump Administration, and stems from the Buy American Act of 1933, Harkema noted. The director of the new office will oversee how the federal government procures goods, ensuring they are selecting those made in America. A forthcoming website will list federal agencies that ask for wavers from buying from U.S. based companies.

5. Green is in Post-COVID.

The trend towards green building and sustainability will continue post-pandemic, according to John Peterson, senior associate, sustainability and building innovation, MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, who presented in the session “Inspired Design Trends for Commercial and Residential Construction.” Design will be green in several ways he says, as it will continue to adapt to energy efficiency requirements, with the possibility of passive house grade commercial buildings that feature superinsulation. Buildings, especially office buildings, will also be green in nature, as occupant comfort will require increased biophilia, or the visual presence of nature; glass will be a part of creating a connection between indoors and outdoors for office occupants.


Norah Dick

Norah Dick

Norah Dick is the associate editor for Glass Magazine. She can be reached at