Five Ways the New LEED Will Affect the Glass Industry

Saulo Rozendo, part of the high-performance building solutions team at Dow Corning Corp., gave an excellent presentation about the implications of the coming changes in the LEED certification program during the Glass Association of North America’s annual conference two weeks ago. While Rozendo talked nuts and bolts of the credits, the changes will also have broader effects on our industry.

The Robert A.M. Stern Architects Comcast Center in Philadelphia was certified LEED-Gold in 2009.

Here are the top five ways I expect the updated LEED green building certification program to affect the way contract glaziers do business:

  1. You’ll be doing alternative designs and analysis. LEED has always encouraged building designers to include analysis of alternative designs for energy load reduction. Under LEED 2012, it will be mandatory that you do so. So you’ll want to select at least five of those façade elements* and create a minimum of two scenarios that show there is an opportunity for reduced energy loads.
  2. You’ll be involving manufacturers more. The new LEED regulations will make it necessary for manufacturers to be present in project meeting and during design development. Manufacturers will be called upon to answer more questions about the proven performance of their products. They also will need to provide detailed life cycle analysis info about their products as well.
  3. You’ll be doing more work earlier, even before you have the job. The new LEED regulations will make it very difficult to use the convention “we-draw-it, you-bid-it-and-get-it, then-we-collaborate” scenario. LEED will only hasten the coupling of architect and contractor with glazing contractor from the earliest stages of the design/build process. There will need to be extensive collaboration in order to be able to provide the data needed for LEED. Most of the big guys are already playing this way—in collaboration on potential jobs very early in the process—and like it, but it may cause you to change how you gain work in the future.
  4. You’ll have to make the case for glass yet again, and this time for a whole new set of reasons.  The new LEED rules take into account a building’s potential for economic and social revitalization. The LEED-masters have recognized that building a LEED platinum building that sits unoccupied may in reality do more harm to the environment than good. So with the new regs the effect of the building on the economic and social vitality of an area is also being accessed. Glass has a great story to tell here, but you are going to have to do the telling. “You’ll need to connect the benefit of glass facades with the urban context,” said Rozendo.
  5. You’ll be doing more testing and have higher costs. The construction industry has never been known for taking anyone’s word for anything and LEED compliance will be no exception. Though a few years away, independent verification will arrive whether in the form of testing or inspection.

The new LEED regulations have some really new  good credits as well. Credits will be available for the reduction of “light pollution.” This means awnings, low-E storm windows, solar control treatments, window film and blinds, drapes and curtains will receive credit.

It was interesting to see what type of projects are getting certified as well.  Currently LEED-certified are 5,417 building design and construction projects; 1,896 interior design projects; 1,044 operations and maintenance projects; 10,166 homes; and 71 neighborhood development projects. 

Though those numbers seem relatively low now, they will continue to grow until an uncertified building is rarer than a certified one.

 LEED is one of those trends that will slowly, subtly, yet profoundly, change our industry in the days to come. Be ready.

* Five must be selected from the following list: massing and orientation; solar gain on facades and roofs; glazing characteristics; insulation; window-to-wall ratio (aperture percentage); lighting power density; operational parameters; and thermal comfort ranges.