Saturday, April 12, 2014

Net Zero Is the Way to Go

I think we can debate the merits of programs like LEED until we’re all blue in the face.  The bottom line to me is going to be the performance and sustainability of that building when all is said and done.  And while the various green rating systems are pivoting and making efforts to evolve their programs into ensuring long-range success, there’s one process that guarantees it.  That would be the Net Zero building and its ability to accomplish the ultimate goals our world needs.  Slowly but surely Net Zero is taking off, and where its important to our industry is this is one process that rewards the glass/glazing performance and basically will force those pesky HVAC guys to size their efforts correctly.   Too many times we get blamed (unfairly I must add) for the oversizing of HVAC units because there’s no trust in the fenestration.  With Net Zero, we’re all working together and the playing field does level.  There’s a ton to this process, and its still pretty raw, but I do believe it will be in the main stream sooner than many think.


--  Speaking of sustainability, one of the great champions of the effort in our industry is Mark Silverberg of Technoform.  Last week he was named to the AAMA Sustainability Steering Committee.  Can’t get a better man than that to be a force in the effort!

--  The energy of the trade show/industry conference is the hottest in years.  So far 2014 is showing a major uptick in attendance and excitement.  A couple more regional shows are coming up to be aware of.  The 27th Annual Mid Atlantic Glass Expo hits April 30th in Greenbelt, MD.  Then in Canada the Canadian Glass Associations Glass Connections conference in Nova Scotia (would love to go, birthplace of the great Sidney Crosby) comes through on June 4-5.  Both events will provide excellent learning and networking potential.  And don’t forget about the granddaddy of them all, the biggest show in all of North America- GlassBuild America, September in Vegas.  That floor is filling up nicely and will be an incredible event not to be missed.

--  So after a hiatus in doing interviews on the blog, we welcome that segment back.  One area of the business that I am always fascinated by is the switchable glass one- specifically the Liquid Crystal (LC) and the Suspended Particle (SPD) products.  These products are growing in usage thanks to the boom on the decorative glass side.  It’s surely moving up from the “niche” category.  So it was great to catch up with Anthony Branscum, Director of Architectural Sales at Innovative Glass Corp. in New York and talk with him on the growth of the product, some of misconceptions out there and more.

MP: What do you think is driving this positive direction and usage?

Anthony Branscum: I think it’s mainly because the products have come a long way and are now beyond the “Proof of Concept” stage.  Architects around the country, and the world for that matter are realizing the practical benefits of using these products in their designs.  Perhaps more important, they have gained confidence that the technology will last when it gets out there.  They have become educated consumers. 

MP: Speaking specifically on the liquid crystal product there’s been talk recently in different circles about uneven performance and products failing.  Do you think such talk is legitimate or is it being overblown?

AB: I have heard and read some of the same things you are alluding to.  There’s a lot of posturing going on within the industry right now. Some suppliers of switchable glass are spending a lot of time bashing their competitors instead of talking about their own virtues.  They believe it makes their product appear as if it’s “the best”, but what they’re really doing is hurting the industry at large.  They’re creating a perception out there that the product won’t last.  It is simply not true.  When fabricated properly one can expect many years of service from liquid crystal technology.  Of course there are companies that don’t produce a great product, but they are not the majority and time will eventually run out on them.

MP: What should buyers do or look for to make sure they are dealing with the right people?

AB: They should make sure whoever they are dealing with can provide them a functioning sample.  They should ask for a copy of the warranty.  They should definitely ask for references and perhaps ask to see a job local to them where the glass has successfully been installed.  If the vendor can’t satisfy these requests in a timely fashion they should think twice about going too far with them. 

MP: You and your company have been in the switchable space for more than a decade.  What’s some of he biggest changes you have seen with the product offerings?

AB: The biggest change has been the advancement in the clarity of the LC films when they are in their clear state.  The industry has come a long way in achieving better clarity.  The second notable advancement would be the film widths.  The product is available in wider widths than ever before.  This helps satisfy most of the common architectural sizes we come across.


--  6-year-old dancer starring in clubs??

--  This is excellent… BMW parks in front of a fire hydrant…. And….

--  Very cool teacher sending letters that his students wrote 20 years previous.


This past Sunday a young man named Rob Jones finished an incredible task.  He rode his bike from Maine to San Diego.  And if that was not hard enough… he did it with prosthetics as he lost both of his legs fighting for our country in Afghanistan.  The TODAY show recently did a piece on Rob and it tells the story very well.  Congrats Rob, you are a true HERO!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Bad News on the Horizon?

Do you have any friends or people around you that like the negative?  You know the folks that always look for the dark cloud looming instead of soaking in bright shiny day?  Today for this post, it’s going to be me…. But only with stories of doom and gloom, and not really my attitude.  This past week, both the USA Today and the New York Times ran stories predicting a crash in the markets.  The USA Today piece even put a date on it, predicting that in mid May, the market will reach 1,311 trading days since the bull market began, meaning based on past history the market will crater.  The entire story, with details and statistics is actually pretty interesting.  Add in last Friday’s drop and this theory may have some legs.  So will this happen?  Let’s hope not….but surely a worry given the coverage popping up in the media.


--  More good news on people with new gigs this week… Was thrilled to see the story on Chris Cotton at Dlubak Specialty Glass.  Chris is a class man and I think he'll do well in his new role.  I feel a connection with Chris on another area as well as he has to deal with what I do every day… that is the adventure of having a more popular brother in the industry….

--  One news item that deserves more focus is “Product Category Rule” or PCR as it plays a big role in the latest version of LEED and is a big component people are looking for when it comes to sustainable building practices.  The Glass Association of North America just finished a PCR for flat and float glass and it’s a tremendous first step for our industry.  Props to Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell and her team at GANA for a job well done.  Believe me you will see the acronyms PCR and LCA a ton more in the coming months and years. 

--  I noticed Glass Magazine added a new blogger last week with the addition of Jeff Razwick of TGP.  I am a big fan of Jeff (and his company overall) and he’ll do a super job in that space.  It’s a real thrill/honor for me to share spaces with guys like Jeff, Bill Evans, Rod Van Buskirk, Chris Mammen and the great writers of Glass Magazine. 

--  A great follow on Twitter is @TedBleecker as he always has good and interesting links and this one on the look differences in NYC storefronts in just the last 10 years may be one of the coolest stories I have ever seen.  Great piece! 

--  Kind of ironic that in the week I write my BIPV- Boom or Bust column, a new report says that market will grow to 2.7 billion in 2019.  I guess that would be boom eh?  I did get several e-mails on this subject and most people are still very leery of the possible success of BIPV- specifically on the curtain wall and storefront sections of the building envelope.

--  Next week, if all goes well, I plan on having an interview in the space with a player in a market that is growing quite a bit… so stay tuned. 

 --  Last this week… don’t forget the Glass Magazine Award nominations are due April 17th.  This is the most prestigious award program in our world, so do not miss your chance to recognize the people and projects that deserve it!


--  Really smart thinking students in Washington with a plan to pay for college.

--  I am friends with several UPS drivers.  This makes me mad that the company is doing this to its drivers…

--  A professor teaches the wrong subject matter all semester long.  Seriously?  How does that happen??


Wild video… just watch… a few seconds after the Fed Ex truck passes it will pass again… uh oh…

Sunday, March 30, 2014

BIPV Boom or Bust?

Who still out there believes in building integrated photovoltaics? (BIPV) I follow a few people on twitter who are still loyal to the cause and I know several companies who are confident that their product will be the one that hits it big.  The reason I bring this up is that this past week I saw a news report that Heliatek reached a new world record in efficiency with its transparent solar cells.  I chuckled because back in my past life I was involved with a product, not too different than the Heliatek one that I believed and still believe could have been the game changer.  So the effort is still ongoing yet here we are 5 or 6 years later and BIPV is not near the mainstream yet.  Will it get there?  I still believe that here’s too many parts of the building not active and that with the push for net zero and net positive, BIPV is a must.  The question is when will the right product, with the right efficiency and at the right price of course, come to fruition?


--  Meanwhile the numbers for traditional solar installations have hit some interesting strides.  In 2013 solar generating capacity beat wind-generating capacity for the first time.  By 2023 solar is expected to dwarf wind- almost doubling its output.  What’s the reason?  Major utilities are jumping on board and pushing it.  Clean energy is undoubtedly something that has not seen anywhere near its potential yet.

--  Congrats to my good friend Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass Products on his recent appointment of VP of Sales and Marketing.  Mike’s a great and talented person who will do tremendous things there.

--  Last week I wrote on VUCA and all week I heard from various people their thoughts and opinions on it.  The main theme was no one had heard of VUCA before and now that they’ve heard of it, they are fascinated by it.  I have to admit I am too… really interesting mindset to have.

--  Speaking of mindsets, I have to laugh every time the NFRC has meeting now.  Their meetings have blogs, reports and now even video reviews.  My laughter comes from a great memory of being at an NFRC meeting and hearing a board member say in front of the entire audience to “be careful what you say as it may end up on a blog somewhere” and trust me she didn’t say it in a nice way… anyway, years later, its pretty wild to see them trying to communicate in all of these ways they once demonized.  Then again they are smart enough now to realize that doing their own blogs and videos means they control the message…. Man that Tom Herron is a smart one. 

--  The Architectural Billings Index was a little flat last month, but given how insanely bad the weather has been and pretty much across the board complaints on the effect the weather has had on building, its not a surprise.  I believe good things are still to come.

--  Spring however will not be coming.  I’m convinced of that. I just think we’ll go right from winter into next winter.


--  What happens when you are reported dead but not really dead?

--  Not sure why parents want to party with their teen children. 

--  This is the dumbest thing ever.


If you have dogs you have been there when they get spooked by the oddest things.  Here’s one that is thrown by a leaf… and oh this video… more than a million views!  People love dogs… and dog videos!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Good Feelings

When do you think talk is cheap versus real? And how can you really tell?  When it comes to talking about the economy or the success and quality of business, there’s usually telling signs on whether or not the talk is legitimate.  Those signs are when people use words like “hopeful” or “looking like it’s going be…” when you ask them how business is.  When times are truly good, the answers are emphatic and energy is real.  This past week in Las Vegas at the BEC Conference, the positive nature both in body language and comments were clearly real.  So while not everyone is rolling along yet in our industry and we know we have some sore spots, to me I think we are finally, headed in the right direction.

More from the show in this BEC only blog…

--  As for the event itself, it was a major success.  I have said all along that events like BEC and GlassBuild America have to be supported and successful for the good of the industry.   So if you came to BEC, we’ll see you in the fall at GlassBuild and if you missed BEC, you simply can’t afford to miss GlassBuild now. 

--  The speakers at BEC were very strong.  And I sincerely learned a lot.  Before the conference I had never heard of VUCA.  In the presentation from Dick Beuke of PPG, the process of VUCA was explained.  VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.  And all of those items have a serious effect on the business climate. Understanding them, working through them, and overcoming them are crucial for success.  The other main highlight for me was Mic Patterson of Enclos once again blowing a room of people away.  Very insightful and meaningful information that had every attendee talking afterwards.  I got to meet Mic in person for the first time after and that was very cool.  While we sometimes end up on opposite sides of issues, the respect I have for him is immense. 

--  The day 2 Keynote speaker, sponsored by Guardian Industries was Ron Jaworski and he did not disappoint.  The energy and enthusiasm he shows on ESPN is not an act.  The guy just brings it.  And his piece, mixing football stories and business lessons was excellent.  It was a speech that those of us who are not Ivy League grads could really grasp and understand, and lessons taught that could be utilized in every day business.  

--  At the end of the day all of the speakers brought value and that was huge.  Congrats to the brilliant Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning, who as head of the BEC division did a great job in pulling it all together and making it go.  I wish Henry Taylor of Kawneer (past BEC chair) could’ve been there to see, as Henry skillfully stewarded the ship through the roughest waters possible, and he would’ve been excited to see how the show went.

--  As for others I got to see and talk to…. I got to fly in to town on same plane as the Guardian team- all good folks and a company that continues to step up in its support of our industry.   One of my new favorites for most intelligent and credit to our world is John Wheaton of Wheaton Sprague.  That guy is tremendous and a true plus for our industry.  He was on a consultant panel that overall was really insightful including Stephane Hoffman and Tony Childress.  That panel could’ve gone on for hours.  Also always nice to see the classy Tracy Robbins of Walters and Wolf as well as seeing old friend and sports savant Joe Carlos of TriView.  Seeing Dave Helterbran out and about was especially awesome since he’s battled some health issues.  He looked great and had that classic smile going as always.  Mark Spencer of SAPA was in the mix and I know at least one person did confuse him for football star Howie Long.  Running into Garret Henson for the first time in a long time was a pleasure, as well as getting to see his Viracon cohort Seth Madole.  The Pacific Northwest is always well represented, especially with the new Washington Glass Association leader Bill Coady of Guardian working the room with style.  Seeing and working on the fab panel with my old co-worker Kirk Johnson was a joy as was seeing and talking briefly with his Hartung Glass company-mate Nick David Sciola.

--  The day and half of the event went too fast that there were people I saw that I wanted to talk to and I never could get around to see.  Hopefully I will catch up with them at GlassBuild in September if not sooner.  Once again though the bottom line is these events matter.  Being able to learn and network matter, and if you want to grow your business and yourself- you simply can’t miss these.


--  Sitting too long at McDonalds has become a big story of late… here’s the latest edition.

--  Ok friends of mine in Seattle… anyone know the story behind this?  Next time I visit, I want to see it!

--  Wow, asking or being asked to the Prom has really changed…


From Wheel of Fortune… guy guesses the word with so little to go off of.  Was the fix in???