We’re in the midst of hurricane season. I’m sure you saw the headlines as Hurricane Ida, the most notable storm of 2021, swept into the Gulf Coast and moved across the Eastern Seaboard, leaving significant damage in its wake.
As a commercial construction professional, extreme weather events like these often get me thinking about our industry’s responsibility to deliver building technologies that can withstand whatever Mother Nature throws their way while protecting inhabitants. I’ve written plenty in this space before about thermal efficiency, aesthetics and glass’ ability to create more desirable interior environments— resiliency and weatherability are just as important as any of those things.
The intersection of these capabilities is especially critical as large-format glass grows in popularity. New multi-family and mixed-use architecture, for example, increasingly demands large windows and even multi-panel sliding doors to maximize indoor-outdoor visibility. In these kinds of applications, larger glass panes demand strong framing that can support their weight; thermal performance requirements will also dictate the use of double- and perhaps even triple-paned insulating glass. Depending on where they are used, these units’ abilities to withstand harsh weather conditions are also critical.
Balancing these performance criteria may require new solutions. High-performance vinyl options—like the Quanex 5400 (K2) Sliding Patio Door System that our teams showcased at this year’s GlassBuild America show—are an option here, with their ability to provide the required mix of structural strength and thermal performance. Combined with the right IG package, large, efficient and resilient glass system solutions are attainable for a range of commercial applications.
I expect we’ll continue to see increasing adoption of high-performance, non-metallic framing materials in the near and long-term future. As my colleague Doug Hauck noted in a recent column for DWM Magazine, a USGlass sister publication, on the new draft version of Energy Star 7.0 for residential windows, energy codes and requirements never go backward:
Energy Star Version 7.0 is just an indication of what’s to come. As the saying goes, at some point, you can’t kick the can down the street any farther. So, as we work to make the best of the day-to-day and seize the opportunities right in front of us, we must continue to look forward for opportunities to future-proof our businesses and to stay ahead of the curve by adopting new energy-improving designs.
These lessons are applied just as well to the commercial space. Our journey forward will be a continued push to deliver increasingly efficient glass solutions for new buildings, and it will require the application of new technologies to get there. Close collaboration with technology suppliers, who can help identify the right ways to meet performance targets, will remain important. And while significant challenges that we’ve been busy confronting since the start of the pandemic remain, it’s important that we never lose sight of making progress toward a more efficient and resilient future.
Joe Erb is a commercial sales specialist for Quanex Building Products.