From Testing and Legal Contracts to Components, BEC Sessions Cover Range of Topics

Wei LamA range of subjects, all designed to help grow and improve business for contract glaziers, were discussed earlier this week as part of the 2013 Building Envelope Contractors Conference (BEC), which took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

One presentation provided a look at fenestration performance testing from a consultant’s perspective led by Wie Lam and Dale Fuhr of Wiss, Janney, Elstner (WJE) Associates. As Lam explained, some of the main areas consultants look at are structural loads, water penetration and air leakage, of which Lam noted, “If you’ve not dealt with [air leakage] yet you will soon.” Other testing areas include thermal performance, seismic performance, windborne debris, impact resistance, thermal movement and sound control.

Lam explained they often look to AAMA 501 methods of tests for exterior wall field testing. This includes coverage of quality assurance, diagnostics penetration, air and water for windows, air and water for curtainwall, etc.

“Now we have the ability to do dynamic testing in the field … tools are becoming more accessible,” said Lam.

The presenters next looked at typical structural tests and explained it’s important to ensure that lab performance can be duplicated in the field. Typical structural tests include ASTM E 330-02 (2010), Standard Test Method for Structural Performance of Exterior Windows, Doors, Skylights and Curtain Walls by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference, as well as AAMA 501.4, Recommended Static Test Method for Evaluating Curtain Wall and Storefront Systems Subjected to Seismic and Wind Induced Interstory Drifts.

Speaking of air leakage test methods, Lam explained they are seeing lots of changes as to how buildings will be evaluated by codes in terms of whole building leakage.

Lam said as glazing increases/decreases “it’s important to understand what leakage is occurring from glazing versus other parts of the building.”

Presenters also noted that both ASTM International and AAMA have documents pertaining to water penetration testing. Some questions to consider include determining the right pressure compared to product criteria; the frequency of testing and the right time to test (10 percent completion, 50 percent, etc.), as well as the requirements for retesting and who owns that when there are failures.

The presenters also looked at thermal performance testing, explaining that for the most part they are not testing per project but existing systems. There are also special criteria testing that are sometimes done. This can include frost point testing, zebra board/flatness tests, polarized filters/quench patterns and UV/VL transmittance tests.

“All of our testing is just part of one set of loads to one part of the building,” said Lam, who added that they are working to stay ahead in the trend toward energy performance.

“We’re looking at energy performance criteria in project specifications and as a consultant … we’re looking at every opportunity to raise the bar with energy efficiency and looking at all the different components and how they are evaluated.”

Speaking of the importance of quality assurance, Fuhr added it’s important to embrace this and have it not just be a piece of paper.

“Take ownership from the shop to the field,” he said.

Attendees also learned about legal contract issues when Shannon Briglia of the law firm Briglia McLaughlin talked about “how to protect your company in a troubled economy.” She explained she wanted to cover some basic topics to help contract glaziers. For example, she noted to understand whether there is a binding contract, negotiating key terms and knowing the key terms.

“Can a subcontract be held to its bid to a general contractor?” she questioned. “Yes … if the bid is unequivocally and reasonably relied upon; if it’s an ‘implied-in-fact’ contract with the main terms agreed upon; if it’s a firm-offer; and also if it’s an option contract.”

She further discussed implied-in-fact contracts. Here, she explained, there is no written agreement necessary to find the bid binding; sufficient evidence of communications and conducts between the parties can show that they intended to be bound.

“Arm yourself with knowledge; know and understand what’s in your contract to mitigate against the losses,” she said. One key area to do this is the payment provision area.

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