Recently the first national conference for members of the newly merged Australian Glass and Windows Association (AGWA) took place at Darling Harbour. A multitude of informative seminars on a variety of topics kept delegates busy, while there were many exhibitors showing their wares.
The stand-out topic to take home for us was compliance and the upcoming changes to the industry through the National Construction Code (NCC).
Housing Industry of Australia (HIA) gave an overview and outlook of the housing market in all states and territories of Australia, and while detached housing will experience a small drop, it is apartments which bear the brunt of the slowing housing market. Looking at employment, the figures are up and rising for full time and part time work with a population growth of about 1.6%. Affordability has become more favourable in most markets as the ratio of house prices to average income has fallen to below June 2009 levels in 6 capital cities, excluding Melbourne and Sydney. In Darwin and Perth, today’s prices are below June 1999 levels, a good time for buyers.
‘2019: A year of change for Australia’s glazing industry’ was the topic of Darren O’Dea, self-professed ‘Chief Building Physics Nerd’ who supplied scientific reasoning on why the window and glazing industry has to change as Australia transitions into higher performing buildings, driven by recent changes to the NCC (Commercial 2019, Residential 2022). The NCC now also includes words like ‘thermal comfort’ and ‘energy efficiency’.
Data shows that currently 30% of apartment stock and 77% of detached home stock in Australia were built with, and still utilise, single glazing. The majority of the 24,400+ Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) listed window products still have a U-value higher than 5.0 W/m2K, but there are more and more products available in the 3 to 4 U-value bracket and below. The lower the U-value, the better the window. (Paarhammer can go as low as 0.8.)
Ongoing discussions towards NCC 2022 need to reinforce the policing of the construction industry and reducing of the performance gap. Important changes will need to be made by the building and the window industry as consumers commit to health, comfort and energy efficiency.
Rodger Hills from the Building Products Innovation Council spoke about government and industry initiatives which will be necessary to fix the widespread issues of non-conforming and non-compliant building products. Queensland seems to taking the lead, but all states and territories should adequately fund building regulators with the necessary resources to enforce the NCC and regulations. Rapid changes in the design and procurement of building products makes the existing building regulatory framework incapable and ineffective, failing to support building owners who unwittingly inherit defective work.
A North American view on fenestration energy performance was provided by Jeff Baker from WESTLab Canada, where a shift from aluminium is moving strongly towards uPVC, and changes to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) simulation procedures for calculating energy performance is shifting from using static sizes towards using scaling. He also provided an inside on where the Canadian government wants to be by 2030 on window performance to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Gary Smith from AGWA enlightened us on the merger of Australian Glass & Glazing Association (AGGA) and Australian Window Association (AWA), and what the new association provides which includes training & skills, accreditation, standards & advocacy, promotion & events, technical & compliance and safety. The many benefits of membership are offered to glaziers and installers, manufacturers, prime system suppliers, processors, suppliers and innovators.
Glass fall prevention, dynamic facades, sealants and adhesive technology, acoustics and glazing, as well as the neuroscience of personal safety and more topics were covered during the conference. Over 100 exhibitors displayed new innovations in window and glazing technologies to the industry as well as to the public, including visitors from the architecture fraternity and building profession. Networking events, awards and a gala night rounded off a very interesting AGWA Conference.
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Photo: AGWA Australian Glass & Windows Association CEO Clinton Skeoch