The Role of Glass in 2022, and Beyond
February 2022 kicked off the International Year of Glass, or IYOG 2022, as designated by the United Nations (UN). This designation allows us in the industry to highlight the transformative aspects of this essential building material.
When I entered the industry more than three years ago, I was naïve to the fabrication process of glass, its ability to be 100 percent recycled, and so much more! Clearly this has changed, which prompts me to utilize the UN’s designation as an educational opportunity for industry outsiders, who were like me. (It also allows us to imagine ingenious ways to entice new, skilled, excited workers to our industry, but more on that later.)
Educating Industry Outsiders on Glass
Some industry outsiders are passing legislation and regulation (Please see the difference between terms here.) at the state, county, and city level that affect our industry, in both positive and negative ways. This legislation and regulation includes bird-friendly glass, energy efficiency and conservation.
As a disclaimer, I understand that not everyone in our industry supports the United Nations. However, I see the IYOG 2022 as a unique opportunity for our industry to highlight the importance of glass and work toward a common goal, enlightening industry outsiders to the energy efficiency/generation, daylighting, recyclability, and versatility of glass! This allows us to help positively influence legislation and regulation with a seat at the table. Legislatures can learn from us as we learn from them.
How Glass Can Help Meet Strategic Goals
Returning to the IYOG 2022, glass addresses several of the United Nations’ 2030 strategic development goals (SDGs), including affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production. These are areas, where we can work with industry outsiders to highlight and promote the uniqueness of glass. Again, here is an opportunity to demonstrate why glass is a transformative material capable of meeting the wide needs of a community through multiple avenues.
As glass technology evolves, it has allowed our industry to meet the United Nations’ 2030 SDG goals not to mention the needs of our customers, while allowing us to continually ideate on future innovations. These innovations have advanced glass’ ability to protect vulnerable animals through bird-friendly glass and generate energy through photovoltaic glass, both of which aim to protect our environment.
"Green" Glass and Workforce Development
Speaking of the environment, environmental causes are important to Millennials and Gen Z students and workers looking for careers. Staying apolitical here, our industry is transition to a more green-energy industry. That “label” affords us the opportunity to attract new talent by highlighting our technological advancements, range of opportunities, skill development, etc.
By working in conjunction with the NGA, for example, we can highlight the multiple career paths for students to positively impact the environment for flora, fauna, and humans. We can also highlight the advanced technology used to fabricate glass from software to complex machines that power our advancement towards robotics, automation, and smart factories.
Coalescing all of this together, let’s embrace the IYOG 2022 as an opportunity for us to communicate with legislatures and future workers/glass business owners about the exciting future glass has in and beyond construction!