September 25, 2023 / By Kevin Norcross
Do you ever think that fire-rated glazing is the “have your cake and eat it too” option of the building product world? It’s the material that architects can rely on when glass is essential to their vision, but they’ve got tough code and structural requirements to meet. Maybe it’s not for every project, but it can solve some tough challenges when needed.
That’s what a new technical resource, Fire-Rated Glazing 101 (FRG 101), makes clear. It opens with the product’s simple but powerful value proposition: “Fire-rated glazing systems offer benefits to building occupants and design beyond protection from accidental fire. Fire-rated glass provides the benefit of daylight, transparency and additional security…”
Over the course of five pages, the technical document explains exactly what fire-rated glazing is and the challenges this product can solve for architects. As it turns out, there’s a lot.
I think we can all agree that fire-rated glazing systems can’t offer any of these benefits if the people specifying and installing these glazing systems aren’t aware of how to use them properly. But I’d also point out that designers and end-users can’t fully be aware of these benefits without industry-wide efforts to educate them.
Disagree? Let me put it this way. Any good salesperson will take time to educate a new client on their products’ benefits, appropriate applications and all the other essentials that will guide that client to getting the best results from their glass product. Yet that new client isn’t necessarily going to listen and agree on the spot that your product is the best solution. They’re going to talk to other suppliers. They might ask for other projects that use the material. They’re going to balk at the price. Just like we’re not going to the car dealership and taking the salesman’s word that the Dodge Challenger you’re eyeing is a sound investment, that architect will do their research.
So, here’s where a technical resource like FRG 101 provides value for those clients verifying the claims about fire-rated glazing: because competitors come to the table to produce a document like FRG 101 together. It contains insight into fire-rated glazing that comes stripped of sales claims to highlight universally understood truths about what this product is and what it can do for a building. The document shows architects how fire-rated glazing can solve some of their toughest design challenges.
It suggests further independent studies to explore. It provides architects with an entire language to help them further their research more effectively. Ultimately, it will help architects trust that they’re selecting the right product for the right application.
FRG 101 provides a source of information that architects know they can trust because individuals with different viewpoints came together to ensure the document reflects the possibilities for what fire-rated glazing can achieve.
I get it. It’s fire-rated glazing, not politics. I think everyone in the glass industry and probably the architectural industry at large would readily agree that fire-rated glazing offers a useful solution to several challenges. I’m talking about the value of using consistent language to describe these solutions and consistent messaging on the value of these advantages. FRG 101 strips away the marketing-speak and the opinions on which particular brand is superior to ensure the most important message is heard loud and clear: fire-rated glazing is worth the cost because it makes building occupants happier, healthier and more productive until the time it is called into action for its primary purpose of enabling a safe building evacuation.
Having sat on many task groups, including the one that developed this document, I can tell you that all the give and take on what to include and the long discussions over appropriate definitions are the easy part. The hard part is finding volunteers to take on the work and then finding time to show up. But we have to show up.
Showing up is—yes, I’ll say it—great for business. Resources like this one build awareness that is essential for driving future sales. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Our showing up to the table to develop these resources is essential for the people living and working in these future buildings. If we can help architects understand the long-term value of fire-rated glazing, we really can help make higher-performing buildings that feel better to work in.
If you haven’t participated in a committee or task group before, consider this your personal invitation. You’re helping yourself and your clients by putting aside time in your busy schedule to help shape the language used around our products. You’re elevating our industry and helping develop better, safer buildings. And you’re likely to find that some terrific people are coming to the table with you.
Now, if only it were easy to find common ground when talking politics.