Eleven predictions for 2018
As another year draws to a close, those in the glass and glazing industry will be looking ahead to 2018 and the trends they need to be aware of. From new energy-saving products to investment in training, manufacturers and suppliers will have a number of opportunities and challenges to embrace. Phil Brown, European regulatory marketing manager at Pilkington UK, shares his predictions for the year ahead.
We anticipate an amended Approved Document B (fire safety) will be released in England next year following the conclusion of the current review. A revised EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is also expected to be in place before the Brexit process concludes.
We anticipate these will lead to significant regulatory changes regarding the fire safety and energy efficiency of buildings. Other areas in the spotlight in 2018 include:
laminated glass on the rise
As well as the security of new homes now being incorporated into building regulations, heightened risks from an ever-evolving terror threat have increased interest in laminated glass given its resistance to ballistic attacks. For commercial projects, facade engineers are increasingly specifying laminated glass on the outside of buildings.
Alongside the increased specification of laminated glass in the UK, there will be a need for the panes of laminated glass to be heat treated for additional strength and resistance to thermal fracture. Processors with both laminating and toughening capabilities will be looking to capitalise on these opportunities.
hot under the collar
As new homes are built to be better insulated and airtight, the risk of homes overheating will be fiercely debated in 2018. We also expect to see solar control glass – usually the preserve of commercial buildings – start to encroach into residential applications. Designers will become smarter in ensuring the right glass is used in the correct orientation to maximise energy performance, while avoiding overheating. As glass specifications on different elevations become more prevalent, a one-size-fits-all approach will be harder to justify.
spotlight on heat soaking
Heat soaking of toughened glass will dominate project specifications, particularly in light of the revised European Standard. Glass companies that offer the service can take advantage of this, especially if they regularly calibrate their ovens and provide supporting records.
The supply chain will need to work closely together to ensure the traceability and visibility of products and their raw materials. This means it will become even more important for clients to work with reputable manufacturers.
innovate, don’t hesitate
New markets and applications for glass will be found beyond traditional architecture. Coated glass, which can provide multiple functions, will lead the charge in innovation. For example, some countries have started to regulate building design to drastically reduce the number of deaths from birds colliding with facades. The UK is some way behind, but clients may start to demand bird-safe glass when they realise its potential to solve an age-old problem.
energy – save and generate
The energy-saving benefits of glass are well known, with low-emissivity glazing retaining heat in winter and solar control glass reducing solar gains during the summer. But, glass will start to play a crucial role in energy generation. This will not be limited to the now-common rooftop photovoltaics, but will evolve with building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) incorporated into facades. Glass won’t just save energy in buildings, it will increasingly generate it and help buildings to become mini power stations.
tried and tested
There will be greater focus on ensuring suitable documentation is available to support product claims. This won’t just be in traditional areas such as fire-resistance, where test reports are required, but also for sound insulation. Acoustic reports from an independent test laboratory will be increasingly preferred instead of estimated or calculated values.
Talking of noise control, higher specifications for sound insulation are in demand. These are driven by the raised expectations of clients rather than regulatory requirements, which are generally seen as weak in this area. Clients, such as large hotel chains, understandably insist on high levels of acoustic performance from their glazing to deliver maximum comfort for residents.
education, education, education
As the skills shortage in the construction industry becomes more acute, training will become increasingly more important. Companies that offer training courses to their client base – tailored to the specific needs of their customers – may be in a stronger position to gain from this. Knowledgeable and skilled customers can generate more commercial opportunities for their suppliers.
The next 12 months will bring a raft of challenges and opportunities to glass manufacturers and suppliers amid the levels of uncertainty that prevail on an overall market level. Sustainability, energy-efficiency and training will be of particular focus for those in the industry. However, we will also see the sector embrace new products and regulations as a route to growth. One thing’s for sure: it promises to be exciting.