Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
September 11th, 2014

Make Your Move

This week I’m in Vegas attending GlassBuild America. The show is just wrapping up. Many window manufacturers were here actively searching for new solutions that will take them into 2015 and poised for the new Energy Star requirements that will take effect in 2016. There is so much to see this year and window company leaders are more interested than ever in embracing new technology, not only to help them meet new code requirements, but also to enable them to differentiate their product line from the rest of the pack.

When it comes to meeting the lower U Value requirements that will become effective in 2016, the framing system is the first place to start. The frame has the biggest impact on overall U-Value, followed by the glass selection, then spacer/sealant selection and lastly the use of inert gas. The name of the game in 2016 will be not only how to meet the new Energy Star numbers, but how to do it at lowest overall window cost.  Switching to a new frame design is one of the most painful propositions that a window fabricator might face but it can also have the greatest impact on the long term competiveness of the company. If you can get to a lower U Value with a more energy efficient framing system and one that offers greater flexibility in terms of pocket size, then there are additional things you can do down the road with your glass package that will keep you ahead of the pack for years to come.

If you already have the best framing system to carry your company forward, then you can explore improved low-e coatings for your next move. The flat glass fabricators were showing a wide selection of high performance low-e coatings and software tools to help model the impact on overall window U-Value and CR (Condensation Resistance) numbers.

Warm edge spacer systems have made huge progress not only in terms of improved thermal conductivity numbers but also with respect to the equipment now available to fabricate the IG unit in the most cost effective manner. The automated machinery seen on the show floor this year was absolutely amazing!

Finally the gas filling solution, which oftentimes adds a manufacturing step to the equation, can be completed in flood- filled chambers as part of automated fabrication process, essentially taking the labor element to a bare minimum while enhancing the overall quality of the gas filled unit.

With the new Energy Star requirements looming on the horizon, you definitely don’t want to take a gamble on your company’s future by waiting until the last minute to make your strategic move. I was pleased to see that this year’s GlassBuild America attendees left the gambling in the casinos and walked out on the show floor prepared to take in everything the industry has to offer and readied themselves to make their move!

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