Busy Greenbuild Reflects Growth of Green Movement

John G. Swanson
November 20, 2008
Meetings & Events | Energy Efficiency, Materials & Components

Boston—While other trade shows may be struggling, the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo held here last week was bursting at the seams. With over 25,000 attendees crowding the aisles of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the show, organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, provided evidence that demand for green is “real,” as one window manufacturer noted.

Kevin Surace, president & CEO of Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale, Calif., based company now offering high-performance glass, windows and doors incorporating Heat Mirror film, reported that while other manufacturers may be struggling, his company is “sold out” for the coming months and looking to add capacity to meet growing demand. The market is ready for the next generation of products that exceed typical dual-pane low-E performance, he said.

Other window and door manufacturers exhibiting at the show were a bit more cautious about the potential for green. One door maker reported, for example, that he sees “green” doors incorporating FSC-certified wood specified quite often, but when it comes time to order, that requirement may be dropped. Expressing an attitude that seemed to be shared by many, another manufacturer noted, “those that ignore this event, do so at their own peril.”

Unlike many shows this year, Greenbuild featured crowded aisles.

Residential window manufacturers exhibiting at the show included Andersen, Jeld-Wen, Kolbe & Kolbe, Marvin, Nana Wall Systems and Pella. Most were touting messages extending beyond energy efficiency, however. Andersen’s Robert Saxler noted his company was featuring a new glass option for Southern climates, designed to offer the same solar gain performance of its previous product, but with better visible transmission, but it was also talking about such green product attributes as improved indoor air quality, the availability of certified wood components, and recycled content.

Jeld-Wen was highlighting the environmental-friendliness of its wood products, including the durability offered by its Auralast process and its use of juniper—a wood that is considered a nuisance and often just burned—in a new line of doors, said Rob Worthington, marketing manager. Sharing the perspective of most window manufacturers exhibiting, Kolbe & Kolbe’s Cindy Bremer reported that Greenbuild attendees were definitely interested in learning about the company’s green initiatives. “They definitely ask a lot of questions,” she noted.

In addition to window and door manufacturers, a handful of suppliers were also exhibiting in Boston. Titan Wood used the show to announce that Bella Vista Windows, a line of products from Loewen, is now using its Accoya wood. The wood, which undergoes an environmentally-friendly treatment process, offers high durability, dimensional stability and resistance to moisture and insects, is attracting significant interest from a number of window and door manufacturers, reported the company’s Hal Stebbins.

Technoform was highlighting the enhanced performance offered by its thermal struts in aluminum window and door systems and its TGI warm-edge spacer. BASF, which supplies polyisobutylene used in the TPS thermoplastic spacer system produced by Kömmerling in Germany and sold by Adco in the U.S., was demonstrating the benefits of triple-glazing using the process. While the system has only seen limited adoption in North America, BASF’s Art Finkle reported that it is enjoying widespread use in Europe.

Commercial products
The Boston event also featured a significant number of exhibitors on the commercial side of the fenestration business. Kawneer was showing how one of its curtainwall systems could be adapted to incorporate solar shades, light shelves, solar panels and other options designed to make buildings more energy efficient. Schüco was also showing a variety of curtainwall and window products incorporating solar panels, ventilation options and shading devices. SageGlass, Viracon, Oldcastle, PPG and Southwall Technologies were also showcasing different high-performance glazing options.
Like residential product manufacturers, commercial companies were also touting green-friendly attributes beyond energy performance. Wausau Window Systems, for example, was highlighting the fact that it just completed a move into a new facility that met LEED silver level certification requirements.

Numerous exhibitors featured commercial fenestration products at the show.

Greenbuild covered a broad spectrum of the market, with a wide array of products on display—ranging from the latest in solar technology to reclaimed wood products. Not surprisingly, exhibitors included a strong contingent of solar power and solar heating products, including manufacturers of PV modules and mounting systems. Attendees in Boston ranged from architects and developers to builders and contractors, involved in everything from large scale commercial projects to single-family remodeling projects.

USGBC’s event has grown rapidly since its inception in 2002 and it was clear that the show could be much larger too, given the fact that many relatively large manufacturers were confined to relatively small booths. Next year, Greenbuild moves to Phoenix where it is scheduled to run from November 11-13.