The Silver Bullet?

Today’s guest blog was contributed by Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America.

Today’s guest blog was contributed by Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America.

During recent conference attendance and meetings with customers, I’ve participated in many discussions about a building material with numerous under-appreciated benefits. The range of these benefits is dramatic and bears deeper investigation. The following, compiled with the assistance of Tom Culp (GANA code and energy consultant) lists some of the important benefits of this amazing building material when used properly. See how far into the list you get before you can correctly guess it.

• You can use it to shade, see through, and even generate electricity.

• Buildings that use this material to get improved daylight and views also improve their property values and rental rates.

• With proper glare control it has the power to increase office worker cognitive test rates by 20 percent; 9-16 percent improved performance on visual memory tests.

• It can provide 39 free work hours per year in office worker productivity, decrease absenteeism by 15 percent and decrease office worker turnover.

• In learning environments it can increase student test scores by 21 percent.

• In retail environments it can increase sales by 6 percent.

• In hospitals it can reduce development of surgical post-op delirium by 22 percent, reduce the length of hospital stay by 2.6 days and require 22 percent less pain medication for post-spinal surgery patients.

• People who receive its benefits experience reduced depression and improved sleep, leading to a greater sense of well-being.

By now I’m hoping you’ve figured out the right answer. Yes, it’s glass and glazing that has all of these benefits and magic powers. Some elements of the built environment would have us reduce glazing area in buildings less than 50,000 square feet to improve energy efficiency. Here’s the question I’d like to ask the folks proposing this change: What would you have to give up? What is the cost?

On to other matters of the day.

• The Battle of the Bands I’d most love to see. The authors of the WSJ blog on May 8, 2013 by Harrison Schmitt and William Happer titled, “In Defense of Carbon,” vs. the insurance industry. On May 14, 2013 Eduardo Porter wrote an article in the New York Times titled, “For Insurers, No Doubts on Climate Change“. Per Schmitt and Happer, if we listen closely to the plants we can hear them asking for more carbon. 400 ppm is nothing, 1,000 ppm would be much better! On the other hand the insurance industry is increasingly factoring climate change into their business portfolio risk analysis. “Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told the author last week. “It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.” The insurance industry is staying out of the energy policy controversy and not proposing much new in the way of carbon taxes or related proposals. When Hurricane Sandy and Katrina type events are bad for society and for business, Mr. Porter argues that the insurance industry will get involved. But something’s changing in the way they look at the intersection of risk and climate change. KPMG weighed in last week on this as well. According to KPMG, “sustainability megaforces” — from population growth and food security to deforestation and climate change — will affect every business’s performance and profitability within 20 years. I’d really love to hear these guys duke it out on the same stage.

Good news inspiration for today

• Sports stars get too much attention for the wrong reasons. Here’s a story about an authentic sports hero you won’t want to miss. Got me a bit misty in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend when we honor the sacrifices others made and make every day for our freedom. It’s a great reminder of the gratitude and humility we should carry with us every day. Jason McElway, Authentic Hero.


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2 Responses to The Silver Bullet?

  1. Bud Bootier says:

    Well said, Mark. The window industry has unfortunately allowed itself to be defined by the insulation industry. Glazing has never been sold as an insulation material – yet it’s primarily defined by it’s insulation properties. A window is a hole in the wall – that’s why people put them there. The industry needs to go on the offensive to market and codify the the full range of attributes that glazing brings to the building envelope – the very properties that windows were created for. Windows contribute more to the art and even sensuality of architecture than any other component, including fiberglass batts, yet we seem content limiting ourselves to talk of U-factors, as required by inadequately developed energy codes.

    Assuming that energy efficiency in the built environment is the objective, a Google image search on “Leed Platinum Homes” will turn up a wide variety of designs – but the majority have one common denominator – a higher than typical use of glazing. Only when building performance is evaluated as a system, rather than the theoretical sum of parts and pieces, does the true value proposition of glazing becomes clear.

  2. Great post, Mark! You definitely got me with that basketball clip. Looking forward to seeing you at the AAMA Summer Conference in just a few weeks.