GlassBuild Sees Emphasis on Improving Energy Performance

September 17, 2012
Meetings & Events

Las Vegas–With more stringent Energy Star coming soon, window and door industry suppliers emphasized new components and systems designed to enhance performance and hit specific performance requirements at GlassBuild America 2012. The trade show, which concluded a three-day run at the Las Vegas Convention Center last week, attracted nearly 6,700 attendees, many expressing cautious optimism that better times are coming soon.

 
 Veka, above, featured a new solar power collector for windows that can be used to charge mobile devices. Deceuninck featured a new dual-sash window system designed to deliver ultra-high energy performance.
 
 
 All photos Robb D. Cohen Photography
 

 
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"The show far exceeded our expectations,” said Denise Sheehan, VP of Industry Events for the National Glass Association, the event's organizer (and publisher of Window & Door). “We are all very pleased with the industry support."

The more than 330 exhibitors included a wide array of suppliers to the flat glass processing and window and door markets. Among those targeting the residential window and door business, many suppliers were featuring options designed to enable manufacturers to meet new Energy Star criteria scheduled to go in effect in 2014, as well as new Most Efficient criteria coming next year. "Window manufacturers are trying to do different things. Some want to surpass the new numbers. Some are struggling to get there," said Andy Russo of Guardian Industries. "We're trying to give them the tools they need," he explained, discussing the various new glass coating options and combinations being promoted by his company, as well as other glassmakers. 

Mark Gallant of Quanex Building Products was offering a similar message, discussing the company's new EnergyQuest vinyl window system. “For some manufacturers, meeting the new Energy Star standards will be relatively simple, but for some with older designs, it may require an entirely new window system,” he said. “We’re helping our customers meet the new standards of today and tomorrow by providing a high-performance system at a fair price point." 

Some exhibitors were looking beyond Energy Star. Veka showed a new solar power system designed to allow users to charge a mobile phone or tablet through a USB plug in the window. The system offers a number of options for mounting small solar panels on the exterior of a window, explained the extruder's Kevin Seiling. "We want to change the equation on windows," he added. "We don't want to talk about just energy savings. We want to talk about how windows can create energy.  We think that can open up new opportunities." 

Also highlighting a new, higher level of performance was Deceuninck North America, which was featuring its Genius window system. Incorporating both an interior amd exterior sash, the window does more than provides high thermal performance, according to Filip Geeraert, president and CEO.  It also incorporates a ventilation system that enables the window to automatically vent warm air collected between the two sash to the inside when it is cold outside, or outside when the air conditioner is on. The window, which the company sees doing well in the commercial market, also offers high level of structural and acoustic performance, he noted also.

A number of vinyl industry suppliers were talking about commercial applications in Las Vegas. Hornschuch and Renolit, two suppliers of laminates for vinyl profiles, highlighted not only woodgrain products, but metallic and pearlescent type laminates that can meet the demands of architects in commercial markets. Rehau focused on the commercial capabilities of its vinyl extrusions, including curtainwall and storefront applications, while Westech Building Products featured a new tilt-and-turn window design targeted at commercial markets.  

 
Erdman, above, featured two new IG lines, a large vertical line and a smaller horizontal assembly system, both designed for flexible spacer products. Lisec introduced its FiT line, designed to accommodate both flexible and traditional spacers. 
 
  

 
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Equipment
Suppliers of window and door equipment traditionally bring more machinery to GlassBuild America when it is held in Atlanta, but several new insulating glass lines were up and running in Las Vegas, including the new FiT line from Peter Lisec. Targeted at small to mid-size operations, the new Lisec line allows application of both flexible and traditional spacer systems. Erdman Automation enjoyed a busy show as it featured two new lines, reported the company's Michael Schmidt. The first was an automated vertical line designed for high-volume production and the second was a smaller, horizontal assembly line designed for smaller volume producers. With a reasonable investment, the smaller line allows four workers to produce about 400 units a day, while also delivering the quality control of automated spacer application, sealing and gas-filling, he added.

Also new for IG was the ThermalCheck device for measuring gas content in IG units. The new unit, which was featured in both the Fenetech and Praxair booths, enables manufacturers to know immediately if their units have the precise level of gas desired, and even enables them to put a label on the window noting that the proper gas content has been verified, explained Mike McHugh of Integrated Automation Systems, developer of the unit. By providing immediate feedback on percentage fill, the device also enables operators to recalibrate gas filling equipment before any problems emerge, he added. 

Component Suppliers
Hardware manufacturers, including Amesbury, Ashland, Ferco, Interlock, Lawrence, Truth and Vision, were among the busiest residential window and door industry suppliers exhibiting at GlassBuild. Expanding its Sentry patio door line, Truth attracted a great deal of interest in its new bi-fold door system, as well as its new hardware for operable sidelites, reported Matt Kottke. On the window side, it was showed a new tilt-and-latch system that provides the flexibility to adapt to more existing vinyl window system.

Vision Hardware once again featured a wide variety of products, including a number of previously-introduced window opening control devices that are seeing increased demand, reported the company's Luke Liang. Its aftermarket WOCD is particularly successful, he noted, as manufacturers can add it to a window as necessary when a code issue emerges. New at GlassBuild was a snap-in sash lock that eliminate the need for screws, saving a lot of time in assembly operations, Liang said.

 
 Not all the emphasis was on energy performance.  Hornshuch, a producer of decorative laminates, was one of many exhibitors highlighting new finish options for vinyl windows and doors.

Also reporting a busy show was Axel Husen of Interlock, which was highlighted its Nova line of casement and awning operators, as well as its Nova Slim casement lock handle. "Manufacturers are seeing an improving outlook for the market," he added. "The people coming are ready to do new things."     

New Exhibitors
While GlassBuild has traditionally featured numerous manufacturers of commercial and architectural products, one change evident in Las Vegas was the appearance of more window and door manufacturers targeting the residential market. Among the new exhibitors were EuroWindow Group and Therval Windows & Doors. Both firms featured European-designed lift/slide doors and tilt/turn products.  Intus Windows displayed wood, aluminum, and vinyl windows designed for passive house and other highly energy efficient applications.  Made in Lithuania, the products feature triple-glazing, as well as various types of thermally-enhanced frame systems.

Coming from Canada was Dusco Doors, which manufacturers Stanley brand patio and entry doors. The company displayed a new dual-sliding patio door design, as well as a security upgrade kit for entry doors. 

 
New exhibitors at GlassBuild included Dusco Doors, above, manufacturer of Stanley brand doors, and  Skyreach, below, featuring both both patio doors and a line of vinyl window systems for fabricators. 
 

Another new exhibitor featuring a new patio door system, as well as a full line of vinyl window designs, was Skyreach L&S Extrusion Corp., which has partnered with the Liansu Group to import profiles from China to the North American market. Based in Hong Kong, Liansu is a multi-billion dollar company with operations in pipe, fencing and other plastic products, in addition to window and door profiles, reported Skyreach's Dedo Suwanda. It has established a facility dedicated to North American production in China and warehouses throughout North America.  The company's vinyl patio door can be supplied as extrusions, KD or completely assembled at its facilities in Canada or the U.S.

In addition to a busy trade show floor, the educational forums and seminars at GlassBuild enjoyed record attendance. The Window & Door Dealers Alliance Forum, the Glazing Executives Forum, and Solar Symposium all attracted crowds that led to packed rooms. Seminars with topics ranging from trends in decorative glass to customer service and the outlook on the commercial and residential markets were very popular as well.

Improving Economy
The market outlook session, featuring Jeff Dietrich of the Institute for Trend Research, reflected the level of optimism on the floor. The economist said there are no signs that the U.S. economy is fading or collapsing. In fact, growth is above year-ago levels, and more gains are expected. "Despite high unemployment and a significant loss of net worth in recent years, American consumers have returned to their first love–shopping," said Dietrich. "Even with high gasoline prices this summer, back-to-school sales in August exceeded expectations. Americans are buying cars at a furious pace and also upgrading their homes–not incidental expenses. Inflationary pressures are mild, interest rates are favorable, and consumer balance sheets are better than they have been in more than a decade."

 
 Also new at GlassBuild was the Eurowindow Group, a Mexico-based manufacturer of European designed products that has set up distribution operations in the U.S.

Although the gains are below the historic peaks, Dietrich also pointed to strength in the housing and construction markets. "Construction trends are alive," he noted. "Housing starts are up over 21.4 percent from one year ago. Housing affordability is at an all-time low. Equally good news is that home prices have hit bottom and are heading higher."

Another reason for optimism, he cited, was the abundance of oil and natural gas reserves has translated into six years of decreasing dependence on foreign oil. "It's time for forward thinking that creates a future each of us can own and enjoy," he concluded.

Next year, GlassBuild America returns to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia from September 10-12.  More information on that event, as well additional updates from the 2012 event in Las Vegas can be found at www.glassbuildamerica.com