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BEC Conference 2023: Reflection on the Industry with a Focus on the Future

Participants at BEC

Glass industry professionals came together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the BEC Conference this month. With a look back at the remarkable advancements in glass during the previous 25 years, more than 680 attendees brought an amazing amount of energy to discussions on complex subjects and looking ahead at what the next 25 years might hold.

The BEC Conference is hosted by the National Glass Association and runs March 5-7 at Caesar's Palace Las Vegas. 

Take-home strategies and market disruptors

The first day of BEC Conference targeted top-of-mind issues for the glazing contractor community and was packed with five general education sessions, including the state of the industry and a deep dive into codes and regulations to watch, a meeting of the Installing Committee, a keynote on decision-making, a project case study on proactive collaboration, four Take 5 presentations, and Tabletop Reception featuring 42 companies. With a focus on communication, innovation and future trends, attendees heard take-home strategies on how to improve their businesses and navigate a wide range of glass industry challenges.

Industry leaders Kelly Whittingham with Ubiquitous Energy, Sophie Pennetier with Enclos Coalition, and Trent Thiry with Isoclima spoke on drivers of change in the market and potential disruptors that could alter the shape of the glass business during the State of the Industry: Eye on the Horizon panel. “We need to ensure collaboration with one another,” says Thiry. “As the technology of glass changes, we are now incorporating many different materials and we need to make sure that the materials are compatible with one another.”

“We need to educate the industry,” says Whittingham. “Do what we can to educate, reduce risk and make people more comfortable with emerging technology.”

Overcoming problems in collaboration

How do we talk about problems we encounter on the jobsite, how do we do things better, and how do we handle things when they go wrong? Dave Ferret with Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems, Coleman Jones with Pioneer Cladding & Glazing Systems, and Matt Kamper with Woodbridge Glass discussed how they successfully navigated scheduling, estimating and operations hurdles during the We Will Overcome panel. “No matter how much we plan, we must be prepared for the unexpected ... because it will happen,” says Ferret. “Things can derail pretty quickly.” “There’s so much complexity now … and overcoming the fear and challenges of using [technology] on a project … communication is the key to success,” adds Kamper.

Panelists Dudley McFarquhar of McFarquhar Group Inc. and Renae Kwon with Wiss Janney Elstner Associates joined moderator Henry Taylor with Kawneer Co. to dig into the importance of getting the basics right from the outset during the What’s Wrong with This Picture: A Forensic Conversation session. In examining real-world project issues and talking through with the audience what went wrong, the main takeaway was that “winging it” or “field re-engineering” will always lead to problems.

Emerging technologies and code requirements

New energy codes are pushing for increasingly high thermal performance in glass and glazing systems, but how can a facade meet these energy-efficiency requirements of the future? Facades of the Future panelists Daniel Sutton with Vitro Architectural Glass, Matthew Price with Deceuninck and MPS, and moderator Adrian Lowenstein with Skyline Windows discussed VIG technology and existing glazing challenges and fiber-reinforced polymer technology as emerging technologies that can meet even the most stringent code requirements.

NGA Codes Consultant Tom Culp provided an update on the code and regulatory landscape—including the newly published ASHRAE 90.1-2022 and the 2024 IECC —and Urmilla Sowell updated attendees on how the Buy Clean California Act affects flat glass and how to decrease EPD costs with the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) during the Codes & Regulations that Impact Your World session.

BEC Conference continues today, Tuesday, with a focus on concrete take-home strategies to help bridge the workforce generational gap, improve glazing installations, and the market factors that will drive industry change through the next 25 years.

Visit @GlassMag on Twitter for additional coverage from the event.