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Glass Connections Halifax shows energy and enthusiasm in the CGA.

August 6, 2014  By Patrick Flannery

The Canadian Glass Association needed this. Following a terrible start
to 2014 that saw the departure of member associations Fenestration B.C.
and Quebec’s AVFQ – as well as long-time executive director, Zana Gordon
–  Canada’s national glass association was left with many questions
about its relevance and future direction.

The Canadian Glass Association needed this. Following a terrible start to 2014 that saw the departure of member associations Fenestration B.C. and Quebec’s AVFQ – as well as long-time executive director, Zana Gordon –  Canada’s national glass association was left with many questions about its relevance and future direction. Those questions were largely answered with a very strong Glass Connections event in Halifax, hosted by the new Atlantic Provincial Glazing Association.

Glass Connections event  
A well-attended and well-run Glass Connections event was a breath of fresh air in a region that had not had a commercial glazing event in a long time. Halifax turned out strongly and feedback was positive all around.


Glass Connections Halifax actually started the night before the conference itself with a lively Kitchen Party featuring a local band, Caber Feidh. The music was excellent, ample libations were served and a good time was had by all.


The June 4 conference was attended by 110 glazing contractors and fabricators from points all over Atlantic Canada. The spacious Holiday Inn Harbourview Dartmouth was the setting. Dow Corning stepped up as Platinum Sponsor, and Tremco and Alumicor supported the event as Gold Sponsors. They were joined by 12 Bronze Sponsors. The event took the familiar form of other Glass Connections events with seminars taking place in a large ballroom with the sponsoring suppliers exhibiting at tabletops around the outside of the room.

The education program began with Bruce Miley, architectural design manager for Guardian, providing an overview of the state of flat glass technology today and the trends in its use as an architectural material. Miley asked for a show of hands indicating how many attendees had ever toured a float glass plant, and only about a quarter of the room had. Guardian, he said, operates 28 glass mines around the world, with proximity to natural gas supplies being a key factor in determining where float glass plants are located. A single float glass plant ships 700 to 900 truckloads per month.

David Kayell of Morrison Hershfield covered developments in codes and standards, telling attendees that Nova Scotia was going to adopt the National Energy Building Code provisions for energy efficiency and apply them to residential projects by the end of the year. He talked about the compliance paths in the NEBC, explaining that the standard uses ASHRAE climate zones and only allows architects to use the prescriptive compliance path if the project meets window-to-wall ratio requirements. Because of this, curtain wall manufacturers will probably have to rely on the performance compliance path, which allows the project to be certified based on computer modeling of the entire wall’s insulating value. This will still be a challenge, Kayell said, as the standard calls for R23 opaque walls with R2.6 fenestration, while typical curtain wall is only R3. He said the solution will be thermally broken cantilevered balconies, more thermal breaks in the wall design, triple IGUs, vacuum-insulated panels, shading and smart glass.

Scott Waechter of Dow Corning discussed urethanes versus silicone in adhesives and sealants technology, telling attendees how to tell the difference between the two in an existing installation, and the pros and cons of each formulation. He talked about the importance of choosing the right adhesive for an application and properly preparing the installation site. “The best sealant in the world will fail if applied improperly,” Waechter warned.

George Torok, a project manager at Morrison Hershfield gave an information- and example-packed talk about common sources of failure in curtain wall, spandrel and glazing connections. Torok is often called out to consult on disputes over envelope failures, so he has seen it all. Water ingress was a major theme, with Torok pointing out a number of installation errors that lead to leaks. He also talked about the need to allow for movement at joints and transitions to prevent seal failures.

Alfonso Lopez of Senetech gave his audience a whirlwind tour of some trendy glass architecture in projects around the U.S. and Canada. Large format panels were prominent, with companies like Agnora capable of producing sheets up to 35 feet long. Double-skin facades are gaining popularity for appearance and thermal efficiency, though they can be very complex, needing point-supporting hardware, spider fittings and often bonded and embedded fittings for more transparency. Luxury home builders are now designing ahead of codes, and as an example Lopez showed a home in Lake Tahoe with a 1,400-pound, triple-laminated door made of a single panel.

Bill Yanek, executive vice president of the Glass Association of North America, addressed the group, bringing them up to speed on the mission of North America’s largest glass association. He pointed to several trends that will affect glaziers in the coming years, including glass failures and energy-efficient building, and encouraged attendees to join GANA in leading the discussion on these issues. “You can’t show up when a code is about to be enacted,” Yanek warned. “You have to be there in meetings from the beginning if you want to affect the process.” Yanek announced that GANA will be holding its fall conference in Toronto, Sept. 23 to 26.

Jim Brady, CGA president, updated the conference on efforts to instigate an apprenticeship program in Atlantic Canada. Government officials are ready to move forward, he said, but there needs to be an educational program in place. Brady says the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology has come up with a four-year course to train journeypeople in Alberta and is ready and willing to bring the course to Atlantic Canada if the local industry can generate the volunteer hours to adapt the course.

Mike Higgins of Economy Glass, president of the APGA, was instrumental in organizing the event and recognized Tony Spurrell for his tireless efforts to make it a reality. The next Glass Connections is tentatively planned to take place in Regina, Sask.

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