What Will Tomorrow’s Windows Be Like?


flickr photo by Grant MacDonald shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license: http://ow.ly/SBb6d

Every year we attend industry trade shows in order to stay abreast of new products and the latest installation methods.  Recently I was in Atlanta for Glassbuild, the annual glazing industry show, which was well attended now that the housing industry in the USA is on the upswing.  It was pleasant as always to reconnect with people I have gotten to know over the years, and to see new products that are not yet available in our market area.  Many industry leading products that I saw for the first time at a similar show are now common offerings in the Vancouver area.  Items like the accordion folding ‘Eclipse’ style doors, or heat reflective glass have moved from the show floor to our neighbour’s homes.  So, what products were on display this year that look like they will be common in the near future?

The winner of the Most Innovative Product award presented by the National Glass Association was transparent photovoltaic glass from Onyx Solar.  This specialty glass has already been installed in several large projects and has many applications.  Imagine having a transparent cover over the patio that protected you and your furniture from the elements while collecting electricity to help power your home?  Or, having these glass panels form the skylite in your bathroom and also power the in-floor heating system to keep the tiles warm on your bare feet?  The applications are endless, the product cost is coming down, and in several US states there are energy rebates that help make this a viable option, especially for larger commercial projects.

Another amazing glass product that is finally moving from the drawing board to the market is electronically tintable glass from SageGlass.  This product will go from a clear, transparent glass unit all the way to a totally obscure unit with the flip of a switch.  It can also be controlled so that it stops anywhere along the obscurity grid allowing some privacy or complete privacy.  These units can be permanently wired into the building, or operate wirelessly with a built in solar collector.  Either way, the outside light can still come through, but the unit becomes ‘milky’ due to an electric charge passing over the special coating on the glass.

There was also a company offering a self-tinting glass similar to the type that we have had available in eye glasses for several years.  This is a product that I believe will find its way into common use as the demand increases and the price declines.

The beauty of having a very large consuming nation just south of our border is that these products get tested and proven prior to reaching our market, and the buying power of our southern neighbours drives the price down to a level we can generally make work.

These shows have educated us over the years on several new installation ideas and products that allow us to continually improve the way windows are installed into existing homes.  New and longer lasting caulkings, insulating foam products, fasteners and tools are but a few of the items we now use every day that we first saw at an industry show.

Education is an ongoing investment for any successful business, and a few days spent walking the floor of a trade show plus listening to experts in our industry is a good use of our time.  Watching the Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves was worthwhile too!