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Major Code Updates, Legislative News, Emerging Technologies and More

All About Glass, from NGA Glass Conference: Miramar Beach

Fabricating Committee meets during NGA Glass Conference
Fabricating Committee meeting during NGA Glass Conference: Miramar Beach

Technical leaders from the glass industry gathered in Florida last week for the NGA Glass Conference: Miramar Beach, hosted by the National Glass Association. The packed three-day conference provided attendees with opportunities to hear updates on critical changes to codes, standards and legislation that will affect glass and glazing companies. The NGA’s technical committees continued development of numerous glass and glazing resources and guidelines for the industry. And, the group heard presentations on emerging glass technologies.

Highlights from the conference

New requirements for high performance

The glass industry is seeing new codes and standards that will require use of better glass products. And, new legislation is providing major incentives for numerous types of improved glass and glass-related technologies.

  • ASHRAE 90.1
    The recently published building energy standard ASHRAE 90.1 2022 includes on-site renewable energy requirements, thermal bridging requirements and additional energy credits requirements, including credit for higher performance fenestration, shading, daylighting, on-site renewable energy, says Tom Culp, energy code consultant for the National Glass Association and owner of Birch Point Consulting. The new version of the code looks to reduce “energy use by half. And they are on target to hit net zero by 2031, over the next three cycles,” Culp says. “The codes are moving faster than they ever have before.”
  • IECC
    The in-process 2024 version of the International Energy Conservation Code is also “moving very aggressively with strong steps towards electrification and net-zero,” says Culp. Code proposals include new on-site renewable energy requirements that even higher than in ASHRAE 90.1, new additional energy credits requirements and new thermal bridging requirements.
  • State stretch codes
    New York and Massachusetts are nearing adoption of new stretch energy codes that set more stringent thermal performance requirements than the federal energy codes, says Culp. While the stretch codes are technically voluntary, leaders in big cities such as New York City and Boston are planning to adopt them as the local code requirements. The stretch codes “want to be very aggressive,” says Culp. Where adopted, the codes will require new buildings to include the highest performing glass units.
  • Inflation Reduction Act
    The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes numerous provisions that will drive performance improvements in buildings. According to Culp, the IRA includes $1 billion in state and local government grants intended to accelerate adoption of the latest energy codes and a zero-energy code. The IRA also expands tax deductions for energy-efficiency improvements in commercial buildings and includes tax incentives for high-performance building products. Two notable inclusions include sizable tax credits for electrochromic glass, and for photovoltaics and building integrated photovoltaics.
  • Energy Star 7.0
    The recently published Energy Star version 7.0 greatly increases thermal performance requirements for windows. Meeting the more stringent performance thresholds in the Northern Climate Zone, which covers about 40 percent of the United States, will require the most advanced double-glazed insulating glass units or, more likely, triple- or quad-glazed IGUs, says Stephen Selkowitz, principal of Stephen Selkowitz Consultants and affiliate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “We will need about 10 to 20 million triple glazing units per year,” he says.

Ups and downs in the glass industry forecast

Glass Magazine Editor-in-Chief Katy Devlin presented a “Glass + Glazing Industry Forecast” during NGA Glass Conference, looking at economic expectations for the construct sector along with leading glass industry trends.

The forecast offers some good and bad news for glass companies, Devlin says. While supply chain and material pricing are improving, labor concerns and a potential slowdown of the construction economy could present challenges.

The construction sector has seen a decrease in material input costs in recent months, thanks to declining costs for fuel, lumber, steel and trucking. However, costs are still higher than pre-pandemic levels.

In some better news for the industry, supply chains are easing. North American ports are clear and freight rates are down 80 percent from peak levels, says Devlin.

Looking at labor, construction employment returned to, and surpassed, its pre-pandemic employment levels during 2022. By December, industry employment rose by 231,000 for the year, a 3.1 percent growth rate.

Get ready for thin triples

Conference attendees also heard two presentations on thin triples—insulating glass units that feature interior thin glass lites to greatly improve thermal performance. Selkowitz presented on “Thin Triple Glazings: Potentials, Status, Futures Concept à Products,” and Brad Begin, president of Alpen High Performance Products, spoke about “Thin Glass from a Fabricator Front Line Perspective.”

Thin glass when used in a multicavity insulating glass unit allows for large thermal performance improvements without adding much weight. Additionally, thin glass IGUs are much thinner than traditional multicavity IGUs and can be accommodated by existing framing systems, according to the speakers.

“With the thin triple, you get about an R-8 center of glass,” says Selkowitz. “And if you have a slightly wider glass package, you can add two pieces of thin triple glass (making a quad IGU) and get R-14 center of glass. … This is great news as it offers new opportunities for glass to provide improved thermal comfort, reduced HVAC size and deeper energy savings.”

Thin glass multicavity IGUs have been produced in North America for several years by Alpen High Performance Products, says Begin. The company began working with the U.S. Department of Energy on developing thin glass triples for commercial use in 2018. By 2019 it launched it as a product offering following extensive testing and field validation. By mid-2023, the company expects to pass a million square feet of thin glass products sold into the market for both commercial and residential applications.

“Thin triples are at niche volume now, but [the technology] has the potential to be more mainstream,” says Selkowitz. “From the technology side, there is nothing to hold it back. The price is fine. The handling is fine. What’s needed is the market pull side.”


The conference also included meetings of the NGA’s technical committees, which continued work on a range of important documents and resources to help educate the industry on best practices, address ongoing challenges, and more.

The conference included a conversation on a new task group, “Physiological Impacts of Light on Human Health & the Implications of Glazing.” New research is demonstrating a connection between certain wavelengths of light and myopia, or nearsightedness. Certain types of glass (including those with necessary high-performance coatings) might block those wavelengths. However, several attendees note that small increases in time outdoors can provide the same, or increased, benefits to eye health, without having to sacrifice the performance glazing products required to meet energy codes.

NGA also has a new task group to address the big challenge of value engineering on projects. The group is discussing how the industry can overcome challenges in implementing new high-performance glazing products on a job.

A new glass recycling task group is also working to address challenges and opportunities in glass recycling. “In Europe and South America, we’re already doing post-consumer recycling,” says Task Group Chair Kyle Sword of NSG Group. Increasing recycled content in the glass manufacturing process can greatly improve production efficiencies and will help “with our 2030, 2050 plans,” says Sword. “We can use this to help get to carbon neutral.”

Watch for complete committee and task group updates, coming on and in Glass Magazine Weekly.