Glass Canada

BEC 2011: paris in the desert

Looking for ideas in a difficult environment.

June 10, 2011
By Rich Porayko

The 2011 Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) conference was held in Las Vegas at the fantastic Paris Hotel from March 26 to 29.

The 2011 Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) conference was held in Las Vegas at the fantastic Paris Hotel from March 26 to 29. Presented by the Glass Association of North America (GANA), the sessions and networking at BEC were phenomenal. The Glass Week/BEC joint conference was very well attended and was the big highlight of the entire conference. GANA reports 350 attendees including a mixture of fabricators and glazing contractors. The program focused on the economy and the near future of the glazing market.

The BEC conference was held at the Paris Las Vegas Resort. It is an annual educational event for glazing contractors and glass company executives. The BEC is timed to coincide with Glass Week, GANA’s larger event that brings together its seven divisions for a number of conferences and meetings. IGMA’s annual conference is in the mix, as well. 


Diana Perreiah of Kawneer opened the learning sessions with a presentation on the state of the aluminum industry, describing the world megatrends of population growth, urbanization and climate change. Perreiah said U.S. architectural billings are growing, and the worst of the recession is behind us.


Viracon’s Don McCann provided a very informative presentation called “Glass: If some is good, is more better?” McCann described how the last version of ASHRAE mandated the use of substantially less glass in new buildings. Because of such organized industry associations as GANA, the industry was able to lobby to have the specs changed. McCann also appealed to the industry to educate architects, developers and specifiers, specifically on window-to-wall ratio and the effective aperture of glass.

AGC’s Serge Martin presented on the state of the glass industry, saying that over the course of the global recession, worldwide demand for glass has dropped 60 to 70 per cent. According to Martin, there has been a decrease in North America; however, there has been an increase in South America and China. Martin stressed that North America is not a leading market in glass technology and that glass consumption is 40 per cent higher in Europe than on this side of the Atlantic. In fact, the price for glass has actually decreased over the last 20 years whereas other building products have all increased significantly.

Need to diversify
Martin said glass companies need to diversify into BIPV, solar, switchable glass and transportation. He said that from float tank to installation our industry loses 50 per cent of all flat glass through breakage and waste. In order to improve, the glass business needs to reduce waste, increase efficiency and increase value.

A common thread at BEC was making sure the rate of innovation inside your firm outpaces the rate of improvement outside your company. John Rovi of CDC provided a thought-provoking presentation called Spring Training: Why it is critical in the Major Leagues (and major contract glazing firms). He highlighted self-training through conferences, classes, reading and volunteering. GANA hosts the BEC conference as part of Glass Week, its novel approach to bringing together the diverse groups that make up its membership. Glass Week is made up of three main events: Glass Week, the BEC conference and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association annual conference. Glass Week includes meetings of GANA’s seven divisions: Marketing, Technical, Decorative, Energy, Mirror, Protective and Laminating. The IGMA conference includes board meetings, educational seminars and meetings of the various committees.

Under a cloud
At the time of the event, the sad news of western Canada’s Advanced Glazing Systems bankruptcy was breaking with the Barber Glass auction still fresh on everyone’s mind. Over the course of the next few weeks, Vitro America and UGC were sold off to private investment firms and US Aluminum shut its doors. No doubt, there will be more shockwaves before this is over. All this emphasizes the need to keep yourself sharp through continuous education as you never know what is going to happen next. •

Rich Porayko is a professional writer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company located in Metro Vancouver, B.C.