Top Glass triumphs
Commercial glaziers gather in Toronto for education and networking.
By Patrick Flannery
As a start, it was excellent. Glass Canada magazine together with its
association partners and sponsors entertained 150 glazing contractors,
glass fabricators and architects on May 28 at the International Centre
in Mississauga, Ont.
As a start, it was excellent. Glass Canada magazine together with its association partners and sponsors entertained 150 glazing contractors, glass fabricators and architects on May 28 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Attendees took in four very informative speakers and browsed the latest glass technology at 30 supplier booths. Feedback on the show was very positive, leaving many attendees and exhibitors wanting more. In 2015, Glass Canada and friends will comply – Top Glass returns to the International Centre on April 15.
|It has been a long time since Canada had a national show for the commercial glazing trade. Glazing contractors, fabricators and architects seemed to appreciate the chance to come together.|
Top Glass was made possible by generous support from some of the industry’s highest-profile companies. Tremco led the way as Gold Sponsor, with Alumicor and Dow Corning joining in as Silver Sponsors. Canada’s glass associations joined the party, with the Canadian Glass Association, the Ontario Glass and Metal Association and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance lending their authority as association partners.
The show opened with a comprehensive analysis of construction and development trends across Canada by Katherine Jacobs, director of research and operations for the Ontario Construction Secretariat. Jacobs told attendees that the country is entering a phase of stronger growth in Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction markets, continuing a slow recovery from the 2008 recession. Her outlook for the remainder of 2014 called for continued growth in commercial building, with industrial remaining flat and government-funded institutional building declining. Multi-unit, residential building is now tied for single-family homebuilding across the country in terms of investment dollars. Jacobs also presented the results of an OCS study on contractor intentions in Ontario, reporting that 40 per cent of contractors in the Greater Toronto Area expected more opportunities, 69 per cent predicted good economic conditions (up eight per cent from last year) and one in three expected to increase their workforce. All this led to an overall “barometer” score that showed a sharp rising trend since 2012 – critical information for anyone counting on GTA developers for business. She also looked at some concerning labour market trends showing a gap of 37,600 workers between what Ontario’s apprenticeship programs are predicted to produce and what will be needed by 2023. “The keynote speaker was really interesting talking about the problems with finding apprentices,” commented Steve Ringler of Oakville Glass and Mirror. “It was eye-opening to hear that the problems we see here with finding new workers are occurring right across the country.”
Next up, Paul Chackery of Fenzi North America brought his audience up to speed on the chemical and performance differences between polysulfides, polyurethane, silicone and hot melt butyl. He started with a description of how sealant works to hold the gas into and IG unit and hold the lites together, then moved on to a detailed analysis of how each different type of sealant achieves the desired aim. He looked at differences in UV resistance, modulus, chemical fog resistance, overall durability, ease of processing and thermal performance between the various sealants. Chackery noted how differences in how North Americans and Europeans test fenestration have led to differences in preference for sealants; more than half of North American projects use silicone, while over three-quarters of European projects use polysulfide.
Seeing the light
John Carpenter of Clearstream Architectural Products gave attendees a great overview of architectural trends in glass construction, showing how the latest products can achieve amazing results in buildings. Daylighting is a major concern for energy-efficient builders, and Carpenter displayed several dramatic photos showing how windows with modern glass treatments can diffuse light through the interior space, eliminating harsh shadows and making everything appear softly lit. He illustrated how similar technology can spread solar heat through the room, eliminating hot spots and easing the burden on heating and cooling systems. The real wow factor, though, came from Carpenter’s photos and discussion of the latest dynamic glazing technology which has the ability to change the optical and reflective qualities of the glass according to environmental conditions and user demand. His presentation inspired everyone with its depictions of lit-up glass showing videos and light-sensitive smart glass adjusting to the amount of sun hitting it.
Getting the point
Roy Lamont and Richard Brightling of Stella Architectural Hardware closed out the technical program with an overview of point-supported architectural glazing hardware and the striking designs possible with it. Stella has worked on some incredible projects, and Lamont and Brightling had many photos of creative balustrades and staircases as well as massive hanging walls suspended on wires. Brightling tied in a strong business message, discussing his ROAD concept – Return On Architecture and Design – that invites specifiers to consider the long-term financial benefits of putting more architectural “punch” into their projects. Investing in design can increase rents and property values, Brightling said, and stretch the longevity of a building as a desirable space.
Innovation on display
The suppliers exhibiting at Top Glass put their best feet forward with some groundbreaking technology. Tremco has put a great deal of thought into window-to-wall transitions, creating the so-called T3 System to provide contractors with everything they need to integrate fenestration in different sizes and materials into the building envelope. Alumicor was on hand with its TerraPorte Accessable outswing doors that can meet all the latest environmental and air/water ingress standards in a low-profile door suitable for the disabled and elderly. Dow Corning was emphasizing speed and ease of use with its 121 structural sealant. “For a first annual, the traffic has been great,” commented Scott Waechter of Dow Corning. “A rousing success.”
It is an excellent little niche market we have,” said Lee Baker of Tremco. “The guys who are here are really the leaders in the industry. We accomplished everything we wanted to in the first half of the day.”
Top Glass was able to attract some new faces that were not as familiar to the glass construction crowd. A.E. Sales was on the floor with its Winlet glass-handling machine, a new product in Canada that the company has just started importing. The Winlet is small, maneuverable and equipped with powerful suction holders that are perfect for manipulating glass sheets. Also, equipment-rental giant Strongco was on hand showing off its Jekko mini-crane, a compact lifter perfect for sitting on the floor of a high-rise and hauling curtain wall modules up to the floor below.
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting that an event like this for the sector has been long overdue. There was discussion around whether the event should take place every year or every other year, with participants coming down on both sides of the question. “There is obviously a huge amount of interest in this event, as evidenced by the large number of pre-registrations we received,” explains Danielle Labrie, show manager. “We want to keep up the awareness and momentum we have built and bring the conference back every year as long as interest is this strong. We think the sector and our exhibitors need this opportunity.”
Call for papers
Plans are underway for the 2015 edition of Top Glass, slated for April 15. Industry technical experts are invited to submit their proposals for technical presentations to Glass Canada editor, Patrick Flannery, at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be three, one-hour time slots for technical presentations. Cutoff for submissions is Dec. 15. Speakers will be selected after the cutoff based on:
- Exclusivity and technical strength of content
- Status of the presenter as an industry expert
- Generic and non-promotional nature of material
- Relevance of content to the Canadian commercial glass construction industry.