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Read My Lipps
By: Christopher Lipp
Environmental Tax Reform: Saving Green with Green Savings11:15AM on Wed 13 Apr 2011
Well, it’s about that time of year when we scour the shoebox and file folders looking for those receipts we need to show Uncle Sam for our tax returns. Like all of you I dream of ways to pay less every year; and, like most of you, I fail to find them. This year however, I did get to claim the energy efficient insulation I installed in my basement ceiling. Of course, the write-off was a whopping $50, but in this economic cycle every penny counts. This was courtesy of the Federal government’s ENERGY START® tax credits for energy efficiency. While this program was targeted towards residential taxpayers, the new Better Buildings Initiative (BBI), laid out by the President in February, targets the commercial sector. Although the jury is still out as to whether the BBI will help the ailing economy overall, it could be the tipping point so desperately needed for the commercial sector’s comeback.
As of this writing, the BBI legislation is simply a proposal awaiting Congress. Whether Congress passes the BBI in its initial form, revised or reworked entirely, it is clear that energy consumption is at the top of the minds of Washington. Here is what we know from the White House’s proposal:
1. Tax Incentives – Under the current proposal the President wants Congress to alter the existing tax deduction for commercial building upgrades to a credit and increase the program by $1 billion. Currently section 179D of the tax code is used, but that could change with the passage of this proposal.
2. More financing opportunities for Commercial Retrofits – The administration aims to make financing available to the smaller commercial projects through loans backed by the Small Business Administration. The President’s budget will also propose a new pilot program through the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings.
3. “Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects – This section is to entice states with grant money for those who alter or develop codes and standards that promote and increase energy efficiencies.
4. The Better Buildings Challenge – A direct challenge to CEO’s and university presidents to be greener.
5. Training the next generation of commercial building technology workers – The government is looking into providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.
Allowing building owners more tax incentives could provide enough enticement to get owners moving. The BBI looks to offer a more generous credit than its predecessor the Building STAR Energy Efficiency Act of 2010. This coupled with improving economic outlook might spur owners to begin renovations on existing structures or even develop new structures. Whatever the outcome of the BBI, clear signs from the government and Corporate America show us the country is moving towards more energy efficient buildings every day. Luckily, Kawneer is uniquely prepared for this with our vast line of products that improve building envelope energy efficiency. Not only could Kawneer products save you money on your energy bills, but they could also provide tax deductions and credits thanks to Uncle Sam.
Did you know?
Income taxation has been around globally for centuries, but has only consistently existed in America since the 16th Amendment officially became part of the Constitution in 1913. Prior to this, short lived income taxes were legislated and repealed constantly with less than 1% of the population actually paying income taxes.
How Much Do U Know?10:32AM on Thu 07 Apr 2011
As I struggled to study for my Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Associate (GA) exam several weeks ago, I flipped through the fenestration section quickly. As a professional with lots of fenestration experience I didn’t need to bother with this section when there were so many other subjects I don’t actively practice that needed my study attention. However, the more I studied the more I kept seeing U-value over and over again in case studies, LEED study materials and technical publications. Obviously U-values are important, but it seems as though they have come to dominate the fenestration mindset rather than be just one of the calculation tools for determining optimal energy efficiency.
U-values, aka U-factors, which measure the rate of heat transfer through an object, have become the industry standard for differentiating fenestration products. We see them all the time in residential and commercial fenestration products. U-values are easy to understand on individual components (low = good), but the effect of glass and aluminum coupled together to form a homogeneous product makes the total U-value slightly more complicated. To get an accurate product U-value, the glass, spacer and aluminum properties must be known, as well as the sizing and configuration of each. For Kawneer product assemblies, complex thermal simulation programs are run to determine the effective U-values. Kawneer offers products with superior U-values such as 7500 Wall® curtain wall, AA®900 IsoWeb® Window and Trifab® 451UT (Ultra Thermal) framing system.
Medical Information Technology, Inc. – MEDITECH Southcoast Fall River, Massachusetts. (click image to enlarge)
A strategic combination of existing products were integrated into an advanced façade to meet the performance requirements for the project.
Click here view PDF of Project Profile
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is the numerical term for the product’s ability of to block heat from the sun. Much like U-values the lower the number the better the product is at blocking unwanted heat gain. Those in either very warm or very cool climates will find that SHGC has a big effect on determining fenestration needs. Warm climates where energy consumption is dominated by air conditioning will strive for low solar heat gain, while cool climates will strive for high solar heat gain to allow more of the sun’s warming energy to enter and stay in the building. In some cases SHGC is more important than U-values in determining the proper fenestration. Low-E coatings and Sunshades are two of the best weapons for controlling SHGC. The ability to control the sun’s energy is vital towards heating/cooling the building interior. The more you can use natural energy in your building the less man-made energy is required.
Kawneer sun shades were used to help control SHGC on the Hot Springs Intermediate School project in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (click image to enlarge)
Click here to view project profile
Visible Transmittance (VT) is another quality that can affect energy efficiency. Simply put VT is the amount of light your fenestration allows into the building (think limousine tint versus clear glass). Allowing more light into the building can reduce the need for artificial indoor lighting thus reducing electricity usage. Multiple studies have shown that natural lighting can lead to increased productivity and even better overall health. In response to this modern construction concept, there have been calls for more and more of the outside world to be accessible while indoors. In fact, the New Green Construction Code set to be released in 2012 calls for 50 percent daylighting across the total floor area in some buildings. You can enhance the amount of natural daylighting penetrating to the interior of the building through the use of light shelves such as Kawneer’s InLighten®. A combination effect of InLighten® Light Shelf and 1600 SunShade® both increase VT and reduce SHGC when used together.
Radiance image study of room modeled with light shelf and without. (click image to enlarge)
In these images, you can see direct light entering this room and creating glare and heat on the table top. By adding a Light Shelf to this elevation, the light is directed up and deeper into the room. This reduces the glare on the table; reduces the heat associated with direct light and creates a comfortable well-lighted work space.
Looking at the Department of Energy’s website for U.S. Building Energy usage chart for 2008 data, lighting accounted for 15.9 percent of the energy usage, while space cooling was 13.8 percent and space heating was a whopping 22.3 percent. That equates to approximately 52 percent of the energy used. Optimizing U-values, Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and Visible Transmittance can lead to significant savings if the appropriate thought is put into the design of the fenestration system. A handy reference table is available online from the independent Efficient Windows Collaborative, which shows the relationships between climate and each of the sections listed above. Understanding your regional climate and how these three measuring tools are utilized can put U ahead of the competition.
Fun Fact – The word window comes to us from the Old Norse word vindauga, a compound made up of vindr,” wind” and auga, “eye” reflecting the fact that at one time windows contained no glass.
Water Testing: Friend or Foe?4:08PM on Tue 31 Aug 2010
Based on the title, you probably already know which side of the aisle you fall on. Architects, building owners, testing labs and consultants love water tests that shine a spotlight on any hidden defects that could pose future problems for a structure. Contractors, glaziers and even some product designers rue the day of water testing. Okay, so maybe both of these stances are exaggerations, but for some they aren’t far off.
Why do we get all worked up over water testing? Simple - it is a critical path item on most every project nowadays whose outcome can propel or hinder a project. What we in the industry must realize is that water testing is necessary, but not necessarily bad. The key is to understand the testing purpose, methods and procedures, as well as what is permitted within the scope of the test.
Unfortunately water testing procedures are sometimes misunderstood or flat out not followed. I have seen garden hoses used in numerous AAMA (American Architectural Manufactureres Association) 501.2 tests with no water pressure gauge, AAMA 502 tests performed in high wind conditions and even a fire hose being used in lieu of ASTM E1105 test.
Even when procedures are followed correctly and proper equipment is used, leaks in the field - can and do, still occur in fenestration products that have already been lab certified. How could this be? After all field tests are supposed to be more generous, allowing more air/water penetration to account for field conditions. Construction oversights and deficiencies in the adjacent construction to the fenestration account for much of the leaks observed. However, when true fenestration leaks do occur, having a good plan in place allows you to solve these issues quickly and correctly.
The following steps will make sure water testing is your friend:
Trivia – In what year was AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association) formed?
Details are the Difference11:24AM on Thu 05 Aug 2010
We all love new technology that makes our lives better-I know I do. Cell phones, computers and automobiles all enrich our lives in very visible ways. But what about the inventions the average Joe doesn’t think about, but is exposed to everyday? Things like thermally broken curtain wall systems, double glazed windows and screw spline technology are common to industry professionals, but probably foreign words to everyone else. So what makes certain products more popular than others within a given market? Slick marketing? Maybe. Pricing? To a degree. What I contend makes the biggest difference is the subtle differences in the product designs.
Cell phones with Qwerty keyboards versus a standard keypad, standard transmission versus automatic or even 1080i versus 1080p HDTV’s exemplify the subtle differences that can drastically affect the way a consumer differentiates products. For the companies in the business of repeatedly creating new technology, engineering the details are an essential part of developing new and exciting products. When dealing with new ideas, materials and configurations few of us can get it exactly right the first time. Thomas Edison took over 2.5 years and 1000 attempts to develop a working light bulb. Henry Ford spent 12 years between his first car design and the famous Model T that brought Ford Motor Company prominence. Everything from simple rubber bands to complex military aircraft requires testing different materials, components, alignments and processes to maximize the new product's potential.
We at Kawneer spend a great deal of resources developing the next generation of new products for our customers. Unlike some, we have increased our drive to produce new products during this economic downturn. With construction standards such as the ASTM, AAMA and LEED developing more stringent requirements we look to be proactive in developing the next exciting product to meet these new codes, not simply reactive to codes being published. Our new Trifab® 451UT offers unbeatable thermal performance, while our new Clearwall™ curtain wall product allows architects and glaziers the ability to achieve a monolithic look faster and cheaper without compromising safety. These feats were not achieved overnight, but with the constant “tweaking” to the designs. Many months were spent designing and testing different versions of the products until the right combination of form, function and practicality met in the middle.
Clearwall™ Curtain Wall is an innovative 4-sided Toggle Glazed (TG) curtain wall system that has multiple patents pending and a new breakthrough glass retaining mechanism. The key to the glass retaining system is in the detais, or more specifically the toggle assemblies. learn more >
Detail of Toggle assembly shown at left.
So why should all the behind the scenes engineering matter to you? After all there are many manufacturers producing good products which meet the minimum spec. Who cares who spent more time developing the tiniest of details? WE DO! Sometimes the smallest details have significant impacts. Do you remember the blurred vision of the Hubble telescope due to an incorrect mirror size? After spending $2 billion creating the world’s greatest telescope the first space pictures came back fuzzy thanks to a mirror that had been made too flat by 2.2 microns, rendering the $2 billion telescope no better than one you could buy off eBay®! To put that in perspective a human hair is about 100 microns. Now that is an infinitesimal detail. The little details matter and that is what Kawneer engineers do best.
Kawneer's new Trifab® 451UT (Ultra Thermal) Framing System, a new enhancement to the trusted and versatile Trifab® platform. The improved thermal performance and increased energy efficiency is accomplished by employing a "dual" IsoLock® thermal break. Detail of dual thermal break shown at left.
This week’s Trivia Question – What two objects in space can the Hubble telescope never view?
The person submitting the first correct answer will be recognized next feature.
I would love to hear from you about any of our current products or send me questions about concepts not yet on the market. While I cannot divulge our top secret information I would be more than happy to answer engineering and testing questions.