Glass Canada

Features Community Event reports
ICBEST provides worldwide forum

July 12, 2010  By

tremco_icbest_smallJuly 12, 2010 – The International Conference on Building Systems and Technology (ICBEST) 2010, the world’s premier building envelope conference, was organized by the British Columbia Building Envelope Council (BCBEC) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and held in Vancouver, BC from June 27-30, 2010.

Peter P. Poirier, Technical Director, Building
Envelope Solutions & Rick Seidelmann,
Sales Representative for GCABC member
Tremco Canada exhibited at the ICBEST
Industrial Display.

July 12, 2010 – The International Conference on Building Systems and Technology (ICBEST) 2010, the world’s premier building envelope conference, was organized by the British Columbia Building Envelope Council (BCBEC) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and held in Vancouver, BC from June 27-30, 2010.

Started in Singapore in 1994, the ICBEST conference is held in a new international host city every three years. This was ICBEST’s second ever conference in Canada and the first on the west coast.

ICBEST is unique in that it provides a truly worldwide forum for the exchange of information and discussion of recent developments in building envelope engineering. The aim is to bridge the gaps between researchers, engineers, designers and manufacturers and to enhance the exchange of ideas between them.


“Globally, the Building Envelope community has common goals to achieve – sustainable development, improvement of the quality of life, management of our resources, promotion of innovation and many others.” explains Dr. Bas Baskaran, P.Eng, ICBEST Technical Committee Co-Chair and National Research Council Canada during the opening ceremony. Baskaran continues, “The evolution of the ICBEST conference over the past two decades is testimony to the determined pursuit of knowledge of several dedicated individuals. Engineers, architects, researchers, practitioners, designers, asset managers and decision makers sharing their knowledge on Façade Engineering.”
ICBEST received over 200 abstracts in response for the call for papers. The proceedings contained 120 contributions from 22 countries.

The event was co-hosted with the BC Building Envelope Council (BCBEC) who represents all segments of the industry, including members of government, building envelope consultants, manufacturers, associations, contractors and educators.

“Building Envelope Systems and Technology play an important role in the construction sector – producing 12 percent of Canada’s GDP and employing over one million Canadians in more than 260,000 firms. It has a major bearing on the quality of life of all individuals, as it defines the built environments in which most people live and work. ICBEST offers a unique opportunity to exchange information on the latest research and developments in the field of building envelopes,” explained Morad Atif, Director General of the National Research Council of Canada during the opening ceremonies.

Over the course of the event I attended several sessions on behalf of the Glazing Contractors Association of BC (GCABC). Some were excellent. Others were painful. Here’s a list of some of the better ones geared towards the glass industry:
o    High Performance Windows – The Key to Environmentally Friendly Buildings
o    Window Technology – Quo Vadis?
o    Strength Prediction for Glass Lites of Any Shape Exposed to Uniform or Non-Uniform Lateral Loads
o    Twisting Tower Façade
o    Design Considerations for Shadow Boxes in Curtain Wall Glazing

However, in my opinion, the top three that I attended were:
How the Evolution of Facades Complies with Darwin’s Theory by Albert Van Grieken, Principal, Aurecon, Melbourne, Australia. Van Grieken’s presentation started at the Mesopotamian era and traveled through to present and described how effective, time tested methods evolved while others died off. Evolution through natural selection. Van Grieken explains that the modern species of buildings evolved from earlier buildings. The innovations were ultimately driven by the tenants. I was happy to hear that glass is considered the “biggest survivor” especially with fritted, high performance, laminated glass and shading devices.

Everyone knows North America is “behind” Europe when it comes to architecture and glass. However, I was surprised that stick curtain wall systems were phased out of Australia years ago while they are alive and well in the USA and Canada.

BIPV – From Add-on to Real Integration: Challenges and Options by Roland Schindler, Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and a photovoltaic (PV) professor at THM Frieburg. Schindler provided a fantastic overview of the PV industry emphasizing the adoption of PV into building sector components. Schindler claims only 2% of PV is true Building Integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), up from 1% in 2006 because of stimulation through government incentives. Schindler states that most building related PV installations are add-ons to the building including both new construction and existing buildings. Key takeaways from the BIPV presentation included:
o    BIPV still has a high reliance on government subsidies is both a driver and restraint (especially in North America)
o    North America is years behind Europe and Asia (see Evolution of Facades summary above). Japan aims to cover nearly 50% of residential power from BIPV in the coming years.
o    BIPV is still too expensive for mass market adoption.
o    Cadmium, which is extremely toxic even in low concentrations, is no longer allowed in the manufacturing of electronic devices except for solar cells and nickel-cadmium batteries. I am a big proponent of PV however this does seem contradictory.

Click here for some BIPV eye candy from the Solar Decathlon

Design, Testing and Quality Control of Curtain Wall systems manufactured in Southeast Asia for Cold Climates presented by D.J. Caesar, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto.

In my opinion, this was the best presentation that I attended over the course of the conference. As many in the glass industry are well aware, the new reality is that offshore curtain wall manufactures are making inroads by leaps and bounds into North America. Chinese and South Korean manufacturers often have lower costs with larger capacities and recently they also have several new high end projects to showcase in Toronto, Las Vegas and Vancouver. Caesar’s well attended presentation was a candid review of offshore curtain wall systems covering several areas of concern including:
o    Conforming to Local Standards: Since the domestic manufacturing and construction industry have helped develop our design standards and building codes, these standards and purposes are generally well understood. Conformance is often more challenging with offshore manufacturers.
o    Sub-Suppliers: Companies hiring Asian manufacturers usually send a Canadian representative to tour the manufacturing facility. The same should be considered of the sub-suppliers as the quality is often unpredictable. 
o    Communication and Culture: Always specify in advance that technically competent communication, both verbal and written, should be in English. Overcoming cultural barriers can also be challenging (how to track down the origin of a defect while allowing all parties to “save face” or how to ask a question requiring a quantitative answer and avoiding an inevitable “Yes” answer, even when the truth may be anything but “Yes”.)  
o    Design Strategy: Current cladding systems built in South East Asia are typically designed for a tropical or hot desert climate
o    Defects: Although random, human error type defects dominate the deficiencies in North American manufacturing, in Asia it appears to be primarily systematic errors caused by incorrect instructions or poor set-up of a machine which leads to identical repetition of the same mistake.  
o    Shop & Fabrication Drawings: “Critical to the successful outcome of a project, in North America the process is short because the inherent knowledge of the environment by the designers and envelope consultants, typically only one or two iterations,” says Caesar. “With offshore designers, who are less familiar with Canadian standards, codes, climate and the concept of good rainscreen design, the shop drawing process becomes significantly more onerous for both parties, with as many as six or seven iterations.” 
o    Material: Are those fasteners really stainless steel? Better have the alloys inspected and samples of all approved parts on hand for future verification.
o    Shipping: Consider price, schedule and potential damage
o    Remediation Plans: How are replacements and deficiencies going to be handled? 
o    Testing: Caesar is adamant that if offshore manufacturing is being considered, a thorough review of the specifications is required. The accreditation systems in other parts of the world are different and attempting to access equivalency after the aware of contract is difficult.

“The capacity for production and current pricing makes it inevitable that curtain walls will be produced more often in offshore facilities. The product can be manufactured to acceptable quality and design, if cultural differences are understood, and the pitfalls described (in the presentation) are avoided.”

Caesar concludes, “While the expense of manufacture will likely decrease when buying offshore, the budgets for quality control and inspection should be increased in order to ensure that quality standards are being met, and that problems are caught prior to be concealed or shipped.”

If you wish to work with an Asian curtain wall supplier, one word of advice: diligence. And comprehensive independent quality testing on an ongoing basis.

All in all, the conference was very valuable and one of the best I’ve ever attended, content wise. The attendance was different than what I expected. 300 delegates from 23 countries. Apart from the Canadian BEC community, the crowd (300 delegates from 23 countries) were mainly from overseas; Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. There were surprisingly hardly any Americans and apart from a few window companies, the only glass exhibitor was a curtain wall manufacturer from China. However I attribute this mainly to the timing (end of June, Canada Day/Independence Day holidays), limited promotion, steep registration and conflict with GANA’s Solar Symposium. I was still expecting to see a few more glazing contractors and glass fabricators as the caliber of the delegates, technical content and location were excellent.

Regardless, especially at a time when things are considered to be ‘slow’, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a few days off than shaking hands with engineers, architects and building envelope consultants and learning more about my second favorite subject.

Rich Porayko is the Social Media Correspondent for the GCABC and is a professional writer & founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company located in Metro Vancouver, B.C.  He can be reached at  

Print this page


Stories continue below


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *