The Role of Commercial Glass and Glazing, Today and Tomorrow

The year is coming to a close rapidly, and it’s a time that I find valuable to reflect on where our industry stands today, and where we have to go in the future.

Anyone reading this will be closely familiar with the collective challenges we’ve faced around supply chains, labor and more over the past few years. Despite these issues, we’ve largely been able to make the best of it — and I’m confident we’ll be able to successfully navigate any choppy waters that may be ahead of us.

According to the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity published each month by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), October marked the first decline in billings since January 2021. This tells us two things: That 2022 has largely been a good year for the architectural industry, and that we’ll need to remain watchful headed into 2023.

“Economic headwinds have been mounting and finally led to weakening demand for new projects,” the AIA writes. “While one month of weak business conditions is not enough to indicate an emerging trend, it is worth keeping a close eye on firm billings in the coming months.”

Commercial glass and glazing professionals should do just that. But no matter the economic conditions we’re faced with — ideal or not — it’s worth remembering the critical role we play in the modern world. The glass and glazing technologies we help bring to bear are an integral part of modern architectural marvels around the world. But we’re also a critical part of more modest commercial buildings that people around the world depend on. Grocery stores. Schools. Banks. Office buildings. And so many more.

As we look toward 2023 my message is this: Stay focused on the fundamentals. The modern world depends on our ability to deliver uncompromising quality and reliability in critical applications, whether the construction market is booming or otherwise.

I’ve detailed a few of those fundamentals in a couple of my favorite posts for this blog over the past year. They include:

Quality. There are a number of ways we can ensure the quality of completed glass products. Whether it’s following established best practices for commercial glass fabrication or going the extra mile via testing to ensure long-term performance, continuing to explore how we can make quality improvements is an essential part of our industry’s future.

Read: Three Tips to Ensure High-Quality Commercial Insulating Glass

Read: The Increasing Importance of Mock-up Testing

Efficiency. Buildings are responsible for about 40% of global energy consumption and about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, modern construction can and must be more efficient than ever before. We have the potential to make meaningful contributions with innovative new glass technologies. Seizing that potential will require incorporating those technologies into our finished products.

Read: Today’s Decisions Impact Long-Term Success

Read: Meeting New Demands without Compromise

Let’s remember the essential role we play and commit to always delivering quality, innovative work for commercial applications everywhere.

Joe Erb is national account manager for Quanex.