Saturday, April 19, 2014

We all own "Glass"

A few weeks ago the story broke about Google trying to own the word “Glass.”  A few people, including the brilliant Oliver Stepe of YKK took up the cause in different forums to make our case clear in that Google should not be able to patent that word that is as much of part of the public domain as you can get.  Heck, my great grandfather came to the US in 1898 with $34 and a glasscutter and was in the “glass” business then…. Long before a “google” was created.  I for one cannot even see the US Patent Office being so shortsighted to allow this, but in our world crazier things than this have happened.  So far the attempts have been denied but Google continues to appeal.  So we may as well get involved while we can.  Oliver created a petition that you can sign and you can also access the maze of documents from the US Patent office as well.

The arrogance of Google is simply mind blowing.  I think its time we all find a different search engine to use, though I know that’s impossible…  In any case this is a story to watch and see if it grows any momentum.

Elsewhere…

--  Speaking of Google, I had tried a few weeks ago to get into the whole Google+ thing.  I still get emails from people who rave about it.  And again, it does nothing for me.  Nothing at all.  I seriously think the only people who use it are employees or Google and their family members.

--  The fine folks from Garibaldi Glass are having their 4th Annual Open House this coming Friday.  This should be an amazing time and one I am bummed to miss, but surely won’t next year. These guys bring in suppliers and industry trades to educate their customers as well as architects and designers.  Basically it’s a trade show/seminar/open house all in one.  It’s a tremendous idea being pulled off by a company that supports this industry strongly.  Good luck guys, sorry I won’t be there.  Though me not being there will probably help attendance! 

--  Last week I had the chance to watch American Hustle and was seriously disappointed.  Maybe I was in an off mood, but I thought the movie was horrendous and surely not worth all of the hype.

--  As I do each month, I always look through the latest issue of Glass Magazine and after reading the tremendous content; I look at the ads to see which ones stand out.  This month props to the team at Matodi USA for an ad that just popped off the page.  Love the simplicity of it and the right use of color.  Nice work gang.

--  I received remarkable feedback from my interview with Anthony Branscum of Innovative Glass.  There’s a lot of interest in the interior switchable space these days that is for sure.  The interesting part for me is that many people just do not know where to source the material from and also the worry of getting it from a credible supplier.   I guess I take it for granted since I know the legitimate players out there but evidently its not that clear to the market place. 

--  Not sure if Diana Bernal of Key Glass will become a regular on the Glass Magazine Glassblog circuit but I sure hope so.  Her maiden effort was terrific.  I love the passion and approach.  Hopefully they’ll be more blogs from her in the future!

--  Last this week, for my running friends, a new song for your motivational pleasure.  It’s called 300 Violin Orchestra by Jorge Quintero and it’s simply awesome.  If that song can’t get you pumped to keep running, nothing will. 

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Farmers Almanac calling for a long hot summer…. We’ll see if they are right, I think its going to be cooler than normal.

--  A pretty snarky list of the top 10 most disappointing destinations in the world.  A few I surely do not agree with… specifically Disney. 

--  Reason number 1,348,999 why NBC is not one of my favorite networks.  Disrespecting Boston bomb victims… C’mon guys.. her request was simple!

VIDEO of the WEEK

From old friend and co-worker Dave Gillikin.  Great piece on the best April Fools Day joke done in 2014.  26 million views on this one too… man Dave has a lot of friends!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Net Zero Is the Way to Go

I think we can debate the merits of programs like LEED until we’re all blue in the face.  The bottom line to me is going to be the performance and sustainability of that building when all is said and done.  And while the various green rating systems are pivoting and making efforts to evolve their programs into ensuring long-range success, there’s one process that guarantees it.  That would be the Net Zero building and its ability to accomplish the ultimate goals our world needs.  Slowly but surely Net Zero is taking off, and where its important to our industry is this is one process that rewards the glass/glazing performance and basically will force those pesky HVAC guys to size their efforts correctly.   Too many times we get blamed (unfairly I must add) for the oversizing of HVAC units because there’s no trust in the fenestration.  With Net Zero, we’re all working together and the playing field does level.  There’s a ton to this process, and its still pretty raw, but I do believe it will be in the main stream sooner than many think.

Elsewhere…

--  Speaking of sustainability, one of the great champions of the effort in our industry is Mark Silverberg of Technoform.  Last week he was named to the AAMA Sustainability Steering Committee.  Can’t get a better man than that to be a force in the effort!

--  The energy of the trade show/industry conference is the hottest in years.  So far 2014 is showing a major uptick in attendance and excitement.  A couple more regional shows are coming up to be aware of.  The 27th Annual Mid Atlantic Glass Expo hits April 30th in Greenbelt, MD.  Then in Canada the Canadian Glass Associations Glass Connections conference in Nova Scotia (would love to go, birthplace of the great Sidney Crosby) comes through on June 4-5.  Both events will provide excellent learning and networking potential.  And don’t forget about the granddaddy of them all, the biggest show in all of North America- GlassBuild America, September in Vegas.  That floor is filling up nicely and will be an incredible event not to be missed.

--  So after a hiatus in doing interviews on the blog, we welcome that segment back.  One area of the business that I am always fascinated by is the switchable glass one- specifically the Liquid Crystal (LC) and the Suspended Particle (SPD) products.  These products are growing in usage thanks to the boom on the decorative glass side.  It’s surely moving up from the “niche” category.  So it was great to catch up with Anthony Branscum, Director of Architectural Sales at Innovative Glass Corp. in New York and talk with him on the growth of the product, some of misconceptions out there and more.

MP: What do you think is driving this positive direction and usage?

Anthony Branscum: I think it’s mainly because the products have come a long way and are now beyond the “Proof of Concept” stage.  Architects around the country, and the world for that matter are realizing the practical benefits of using these products in their designs.  Perhaps more important, they have gained confidence that the technology will last when it gets out there.  They have become educated consumers. 

MP: Speaking specifically on the liquid crystal product there’s been talk recently in different circles about uneven performance and products failing.  Do you think such talk is legitimate or is it being overblown?

AB: I have heard and read some of the same things you are alluding to.  There’s a lot of posturing going on within the industry right now. Some suppliers of switchable glass are spending a lot of time bashing their competitors instead of talking about their own virtues.  They believe it makes their product appear as if it’s “the best”, but what they’re really doing is hurting the industry at large.  They’re creating a perception out there that the product won’t last.  It is simply not true.  When fabricated properly one can expect many years of service from liquid crystal technology.  Of course there are companies that don’t produce a great product, but they are not the majority and time will eventually run out on them.


MP: What should buyers do or look for to make sure they are dealing with the right people?

AB: They should make sure whoever they are dealing with can provide them a functioning sample.  They should ask for a copy of the warranty.  They should definitely ask for references and perhaps ask to see a job local to them where the glass has successfully been installed.  If the vendor can’t satisfy these requests in a timely fashion they should think twice about going too far with them. 

MP: You and your company have been in the switchable space for more than a decade.  What’s some of he biggest changes you have seen with the product offerings?

AB: The biggest change has been the advancement in the clarity of the LC films when they are in their clear state.  The industry has come a long way in achieving better clarity.  The second notable advancement would be the film widths.  The product is available in wider widths than ever before.  This helps satisfy most of the common architectural sizes we come across.


LINKS of the WEEK

--  6-year-old dancer starring in clubs??

--  This is excellent… BMW parks in front of a fire hydrant…. And….

--  Very cool teacher sending letters that his students wrote 20 years previous.

VIDEO of the WEEK

This past Sunday a young man named Rob Jones finished an incredible task.  He rode his bike from Maine to San Diego.  And if that was not hard enough… he did it with prosthetics as he lost both of his legs fighting for our country in Afghanistan.  The TODAY show recently did a piece on Rob and it tells the story very well.  Congrats Rob, you are a true HERO!


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Bad News on the Horizon?

Do you have any friends or people around you that like the negative?  You know the folks that always look for the dark cloud looming instead of soaking in bright shiny day?  Today for this post, it’s going to be me…. But only with stories of doom and gloom, and not really my attitude.  This past week, both the USA Today and the New York Times ran stories predicting a crash in the markets.  The USA Today piece even put a date on it, predicting that in mid May, the market will reach 1,311 trading days since the bull market began, meaning based on past history the market will crater.  The entire story, with details and statistics is actually pretty interesting.  Add in last Friday’s drop and this theory may have some legs.  So will this happen?  Let’s hope not….but surely a worry given the coverage popping up in the media.

Elsewhere…

--  More good news on people with new gigs this week… Was thrilled to see the story on Chris Cotton at Dlubak Specialty Glass.  Chris is a class man and I think he'll do well in his new role.  I feel a connection with Chris on another area as well as he has to deal with what I do every day… that is the adventure of having a more popular brother in the industry….

--  One news item that deserves more focus is “Product Category Rule” or PCR as it plays a big role in the latest version of LEED and is a big component people are looking for when it comes to sustainable building practices.  The Glass Association of North America just finished a PCR for flat and float glass and it’s a tremendous first step for our industry.  Props to Urmilla Jokhu-Sowell and her team at GANA for a job well done.  Believe me you will see the acronyms PCR and LCA a ton more in the coming months and years. 

--  I noticed Glass Magazine added a new blogger last week with the addition of Jeff Razwick of TGP.  I am a big fan of Jeff (and his company overall) and he’ll do a super job in that space.  It’s a real thrill/honor for me to share spaces with guys like Jeff, Bill Evans, Rod Van Buskirk, Chris Mammen and the great writers of Glass Magazine. 

--  A great follow on Twitter is @TedBleecker as he always has good and interesting links and this one on the look differences in NYC storefronts in just the last 10 years may be one of the coolest stories I have ever seen.  Great piece! 

--  Kind of ironic that in the week I write my BIPV- Boom or Bust column, a new report says that market will grow to 2.7 billion in 2019.  I guess that would be boom eh?  I did get several e-mails on this subject and most people are still very leery of the possible success of BIPV- specifically on the curtain wall and storefront sections of the building envelope.

--  Next week, if all goes well, I plan on having an interview in the space with a player in a market that is growing quite a bit… so stay tuned. 

 --  Last this week… don’t forget the Glass Magazine Award nominations are due April 17th.  This is the most prestigious award program in our world, so do not miss your chance to recognize the people and projects that deserve it!

LINKS of the WEEK

--  Really smart thinking students in Washington with a plan to pay for college.

--  I am friends with several UPS drivers.  This makes me mad that the company is doing this to its drivers…

--  A professor teaches the wrong subject matter all semester long.  Seriously?  How does that happen??

VIDEO of the WEEK

Wild video… just watch… a few seconds after the Fed Ex truck passes it will pass again… uh oh…






Sunday, March 30, 2014

BIPV Boom or Bust?

Who still out there believes in building integrated photovoltaics? (BIPV) I follow a few people on twitter who are still loyal to the cause and I know several companies who are confident that their product will be the one that hits it big.  The reason I bring this up is that this past week I saw a news report that Heliatek reached a new world record in efficiency with its transparent solar cells.  I chuckled because back in my past life I was involved with a product, not too different than the Heliatek one that I believed and still believe could have been the game changer.  So the effort is still ongoing yet here we are 5 or 6 years later and BIPV is not near the mainstream yet.  Will it get there?  I still believe that here’s too many parts of the building not active and that with the push for net zero and net positive, BIPV is a must.  The question is when will the right product, with the right efficiency and at the right price of course, come to fruition?

Elsewhere…

--  Meanwhile the numbers for traditional solar installations have hit some interesting strides.  In 2013 solar generating capacity beat wind-generating capacity for the first time.  By 2023 solar is expected to dwarf wind- almost doubling its output.  What’s the reason?  Major utilities are jumping on board and pushing it.  Clean energy is undoubtedly something that has not seen anywhere near its potential yet.

--  Congrats to my good friend Mike Dishmon of Virginia Glass Products on his recent appointment of VP of Sales and Marketing.  Mike’s a great and talented person who will do tremendous things there.

--  Last week I wrote on VUCA and all week I heard from various people their thoughts and opinions on it.  The main theme was no one had heard of VUCA before and now that they’ve heard of it, they are fascinated by it.  I have to admit I am too… really interesting mindset to have.

--  Speaking of mindsets, I have to laugh every time the NFRC has meeting now.  Their meetings have blogs, reports and now even video reviews.  My laughter comes from a great memory of being at an NFRC meeting and hearing a board member say in front of the entire audience to “be careful what you say as it may end up on a blog somewhere” and trust me she didn’t say it in a nice way… anyway, years later, its pretty wild to see them trying to communicate in all of these ways they once demonized.  Then again they are smart enough now to realize that doing their own blogs and videos means they control the message…. Man that Tom Herron is a smart one. 

--  The Architectural Billings Index was a little flat last month, but given how insanely bad the weather has been and pretty much across the board complaints on the effect the weather has had on building, its not a surprise.  I believe good things are still to come.

--  Spring however will not be coming.  I’m convinced of that. I just think we’ll go right from winter into next winter.

LINKS of the WEEK

--  What happens when you are reported dead but not really dead?

--  Not sure why parents want to party with their teen children. 

--  This is the dumbest thing ever.

VIDEO of the WEEK

If you have dogs you have been there when they get spooked by the oddest things.  Here’s one that is thrown by a leaf… and oh this video… more than a million views!  People love dogs… and dog videos!!