2021 is right around the corner, and with it will likely come some change for the building and construction industry.
Though we’re still in the thick of things, the pandemic will eventually recede at some point in the coming year. There’s been some promising news on the vaccine front in recent weeks, which I hope will ease the burden the pandemic has placed on our world. However, some longer-term ramifications are to be expected. A recent piece in Construction Dive, for example, explores how new office construction could change post-pandemic, including potential features such as density monitoring and outdoor workspaces. This is just one possible way we might see trends shift next year and beyond.
January will likely bring a change in the U.S. presidential administration, and any time this kind of shift takes place at the top levels of government, it’s worth considering what changes might be in store for the coming years. It takes just a quick scan of the headlines to see projections of how a Biden presidency might influence the market. But political preferences aside, there are some practical ramifications that our industry needs to prepare itself for.
For many, the potential for our industry to see new efficiency and emissions regulations immediately comes to mind. In the Trump era, we’ve seen an absence of federally-legislated emissions targets—but that can and likely will change under a new administration. What’s striking to me, however, is that over the past four years, the commercial glass market has only become more interested in high-performance, thermally efficient solutions—not less.
There are a few reasons for this, many of them market driven. Architects and designers today seek to create indoor environments that offer the highest levels of occupancy comfort—this means achieving outstanding thermal performance and other new benefits like acoustic and soundproofing performance. Elsewhere, American corporations increasingly have their own aggressive sustainability goals—and none of them are intent on building a big, inefficient new corporate office, for example. Finally, many individual states have taken sustainability targets into their own hands through stringent building codes, as any commercial professional operating in New York or California could tell you. Put more simply, there is significant demand for high-performance products and the progressive technologies that make them possible, no matter what the federal government may have to do with it.
And, if we do see some bolder legislation from the new administration, I think our industry is well prepared. Many commercial glass professionals have realized in the past several years that offering high performance via progressive technology is a competitive advantage. Warm edge spacer systems for large-scale commercial glass, high-performance vinyl systems—these aren’t just technologies that can satisfy a greener legislative agenda. They’re reliable, in-demand and have proven their value in the marketplace.
Finally, while we’ve seen the residential market booming in the past few months, the outlook for the commercial space is a bit less clear. Some economists have predicted a bit of a tightening into 2021, and under such circumstances, providing value and performance is even more important. Keeping your competitive edge as sharp as possible can be a key to success. But for now, let’s finish this unprecedented year as strong as we can.
Joe Erb is commercial sales specialist at Quanex Building Products.