e-glass weekly - October 10, 2006
Vol 1 | Num 18
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Glaziers overcome labor shortage through training, technology

Despite the growing workforce crisis in the construction industry, many glaziers report they do find enough employees. However, they often find just enough bodies to fill positions, not trained workers who can take on any job in the field...

Despite the growing workforce crisis in the construction industry, many glaziers report they do find enough employees. However, they often find just enough bodies to fill positions, not trained workers who can take on any job in the field.

With the construction industry at a loss for experienced employees, glaziers such as John Heinaman, president of Heinaman Contract Glazing in Lake Forest, Calif., say training becomes a must.

Heinaman says he pairs greener workers with skilled employees to learn all areas of the job. “We rely heavily on our experienced folks,” he says. “The foreman on each job has the responsibility to help train workers on his crew.”
Training becomes just as critical for project managers as it is for field workers, says Steve Burnett, president of Walters & Wolf Curtain Wall in Seattle. Walters & Wolf pulls many new employees from college and university construction management programs and runs a thorough training and mentoring program to keep them at the company.

“We work hard at having an internal training program,” he says. “People come into the company and we ensure they get a broad range of training in all phases of operation.”

Burnett says the training programs encourage employees to stay with the company. “Our [training] is key to retaining anyone, because you’re meeting their needs with their career, allowing them to follow their aspirations. It’s a win-win for both the company and individual.”

Training in the newest technologies also helps with labor issues by allowing for fewer on-site workers, says John Shum, vice president of operations for Sierra Glass & Mirror Inc. in Las Vegas.

Sierra brings in representatives from their suppliers to give presentations about the newest products, from sealants to glass, and Shum says he holds a curtain wall class quarterly for employees. “We spend quite a bit of money to keep experienced guys up-to-date on new technology and new techniques,” he says.

Shum says his crews have been trained heavily on working with unitized systems and the company now bids all its projects as unitized. “Fields can be reduced by two thirds with unitized systems. It’s a huge saving on field labor,” Shum says.

Code council committee strikes bath enclosure amendments, approves new energy code

The structural committee for the International Code Council of Falls Church, Va., disapproved a set of proposed amendments backed by the America’s Glass Association of Placerville, Calif., that would have toughened the hardware and glass requirements for frameless shower doors...

The structural committee for the International Code Council of Falls Church, Va., disapproved a set of proposed amendments backed by the America’s Glass Association of Placerville, Calif., that would have toughened the hardware and glass requirements for frameless shower doors.

ICC committees heard a record 2,300 proposals to revise the 2009 edition international codes from Sept. 20- Oct. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

The proposed amendments followed a contentious debate over bath enclosure standards or codes between AGA and the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association of Topeka, Kan.

While both sides agree more requirements are needed for the enclosures, several fundamental differences between the associations’ approaches prevented collaboration; mainly BEMA members would like to develop a standard, while the AGA proposal amends building codes.

Donn Harter, president of AGA, said in an Aug. 8 e-glass weekly article that he anticipated BEMA’s vocal opposition at the hearings and expected it to make a difference in the committee’s recommendation. “The word of the manufacturers is pretty strong, both with contractors and code officials,” Harter said. “… If they are able to stop us at code change hearings, then we’ll just go ahead and try again next year.”

Proposal fails for alternative thermal performance rating procedure
An ICC committee struck down a proposal that would have allowed for an alternative thermal performance rating procedure from Schaumberg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association.

The proposal, backed by the Glass Association of North America of Topeka, Kan., and the Aluminum Extruders Council of Wauconda, Ill., would have amended the International Energy Conservation code to permitting use of AAMA 507-03 as a standard practice for determining thermal performance of fenestration systems in commercial buildings.

The IECC code will continue to only recognize the use of NFRC 100, an energy-rating system from the National Fenestration Rating Council in Silver Spring, Md., and to require determination of thermal performance values by use of default tables included in the IECC or labeling in accordance with NFRC 100.

To read more about the proposal, click here.

Approved energy code could benefit some manufacturers
An IECC committee also approved a proposal designated EC82 for the International Energy Conservation Code.

EC82 permits calculation of a weighted average U-factor for the entire building envelope and an area weighted average solar heat gain coefficient for all the glazing in the building envelope.

“Being able to use an area weighted average for the entire building envelope will be particularly valuable for manufacturers of products that have difficulty meeting the prescriptive values, such as plastic skylights and aluminum framed windows and doors, because it will allow a trade off of more insulation in the opaque parts of the exterior walls and roofs in exchange for the use of less energy efficient doors, skylights and vertical glazed assemblies,” says Julie Ruth, P.E., consultant to AAMA, based in New Lenox, Ill.

However, Ruth says, the committee’s decision may create difficulties for designers. By approving the proposal, the committee removed a provision that allowed use of prescriptive tables within ASHRAE 90.1 that help determine U-factor and SHGC based on percentage of exterior wall that is glass. The IECC tables provide only one set of values, regardless of the amount of glass.

“In some cases the tables in ASHRAE 90.1 are more stringent and in other cases the tables in the IECC are more stringent. The 2006 IECC permits the designer to choose which they want to use, or they can do performance based design of the entire building,” Ruth says.

If approval of EC82 as submitted is upheld at the Final Action Hearings of the 2006/2007 ICC Code Change Cycle next May, designers may not have the choice of using ASHRAE 90.1 in future editions of the IECC.

The results of the committees’ votes will appear in a report later this fall, and the proposals will advance to a public hearing period, says Alan Carr, ICC senior staff engineer. “This public comment period is for anybody who takes issue with committee decisions,” he says. “It also allows people to offer modifications to proposals.”

These public comments will appear on the agenda for the final action hearings of the 2006-2007 ICC code-change cycle. Those hearings are scheduled for May 22-25, 2007, in Rochester, N.Y.

To learn more about the proposals before the ICC committees, see the October issue of Glass magazine.

Safti First exec responds to cost concerns

Q&A with William O’Keeffe
In a series of e-glass weekly articles on wired glass in schools, architects said budget issues become an issue for school districts wanting to make the switch from wired glass to fire- and impact-resistant alternatives...

Q&A with William O’Keeffe

In a series of e-glass weekly articles on wired glass in schools, architects said budget issues become an issue for school districts wanting to make the switch from wired glass to fire- and impact-resistant alternatives.

William O’Keeffe, president and chief executive officer of fire-rated glass manufacturer Safti First out of San Francisco, responded to those budget concerns in an interview, adding that changes to the building codes that require hose-stream tests could help bring costs down.

To read an in-depth article about the debate over requiring hose-stream tests for fire-rated products, click here.

What is your response to perceptions among architects and school officials that alternative fire- and impact-resistant products are not economically feasible for many districts?
When comparing traditional wired glass to safety-rated wired glass such as SuperLite I-W, the perception is incorrect because the cost difference is not that great. However, more and more, architects are being pushed to use clear products, and that is where it becomes expensive. This is because the codes in this country are not allowing the use of tempered products without requiring the approval of the authority having jurisdiction, or AHJ, making it difficult for alternates of ceramics.

Are prices falling for impact-resistant fire-glass products?
Prices are not falling for clear, ceramic products. There are only three manufacturers of ceramics in the world, and unless the hose stream test is removed for 45-minute fire protective applications, there is no competitive pressure to reduce prices. Because the hose-stream requirement for 45-minute applications only exists in the United States and Canada, ceramics do not have a market outside of the United States and Canada. The rest of the world has been able to use less expensive, clear, tempered, safety-rated, and radiant-heat-reducing products for more than 30 years.

Will the prices for these products ever reach a level comparable to wired glass?
I believe that fire-protective products can reach the level compared to wired glass—maybe even less—if the hose stream test is removed for 45-minute fire protective applications. This change will allow for clear, safety rated, tempered products that are already being used in most other parts of the world.

What code changes would be needed to reduce these costs?
The AHJ can help by reviewing the history and intention of hose-stream test requirements for 45-minute doors and sidelites more critically. AHJs can waive the hose stream requirement for 45-minute doors and sidelites, allowing for less expensive, clear, safety-rated tempered products to be used without sacrificing safety in any way. … [Safti First] is trying to make headway during the upcoming hearings to remove the hose stream test for 45-minute applications and therefore provide for the use of less expensive better performing products.

Construction put in place edges up in August

The value of construction put in place rose to $1.2 trillion in August, up 0.3 percent compared to July, and 4.4 percent over August 2005, according to an Oct. 2 report from the U.S. Census Bureau...

The value of construction put in place rose to $1.2 trillion in August, up 0.3 percent compared to July, and 4.4 percent over August 2005, according to an Oct. 2 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

While residential construction was down 5.1 percent compared to last August at $626 billion, nonresidential construction increased 2.3 percent in the month to $575 billion, up 17.1 percent from last year.

Nonresidential sectors reporting the largest gains since August 2005 include lodging, up 64.4 percent from last year and 2.9 percent since July; office, up 22.4 percent since last year and 2.9 percent since July; and health care, up 12.6 percent since last year and 2.5 percent since July.

Total private construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted rate of $929 billion, up 0.1 percent from July, with nonresidential private construction up 3.4 percent from July at $312 billion, according to the report.

Public construction also rose in the month, up 9.7 percent from last year and 1.1 percent from July at $272 billion. Nonresidential public construction reached $263 billion in August, up 9.9 percent from 2005 and 1 percent from July.

The week's business headlines

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Ford subsidiary prepares to sell or close Tulsa glass plant
The Tulsa glass operation of Automotive Components Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Detroit-based Ford Motor Co., will be sold or closed by 2008, according to an Oct. 2 report from the Associated Press … read more

Silicon Valley companies join solar panel market
Several Silicon Valley companies have entered the solar-energy industry with aims to provide more affordable solar sells through improved technology and increased volume, according to Sept. 26 article from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia … read more

Connecticut fabricator plans new facility
Officials from Glass Contractors LLC, a commercial glass fabrication and distribution company out of Norwalk, Conn., plan to build a new factory in Sandy Hook, Conn., according to a Sept. 28 article in the Newton Bee in Connecticut … read more

White Aluminum expands with new glass processing line
White Aluminum Enterprises of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will purchase the first complete Bavelloni integrated pre-processing line in the Middle East, according to an Oct. 3 release from Italian equipment and machine producer Z. Bavelloni … read more