Waterproofing, Window and Door Flashings

John Babun – Sika Corporation

  • What are the largest challenges you see right now pertaining to window and door flashings?
  • What are the benefits of liquid applied flashings?
  • What are the benefits of a cementitious waterproofing for windows and doors?
  • Is one flashing appropriate for all applications?

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast:      Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.


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About GCI Consultants: GCI’s building envelope professionals provide consulting services to ensure clients receive maximum value and return on their investment in the firm’s services, which include:

  • Engineering Services
  • Design Assistance
  • Field Testing
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Laminated Glass and it’s Applications

Bob Ford – Eastman Chemical Company

  • The Advanced Materials Division within Eastman Chemical
  • Laminated Glass and it’s Applications
  • What is laminated glass?
  • How is laminated glass made?
  • Architectural & Automotive Applications
  • Security, Safety, Sound, Solar, Storm, and Style

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast:     
Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.


*** Subscribe to the show and leave us a Review on ITunes!

The Everything Building Envelope Episode Transcript:

Paul Beers: Today we have as our guest Bob Ford, with Eastman Chemical Company. Bob, thanks for coming on today.

Bob Ford: Well, Paul, thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure to talk to you this morning.

Paul Beers: So you’re with the Advanced and Material Interlayers, is that right?

Bob Ford: Correct I am with the AMI group with Eastman Chemical, and basically what that is, Paul, is at the interlayer division of Eastman. Eastman acquired Solutia, which many of our listeners may recognize as a brand name of PVB, back a few years ago, and so we now are owned by our parent company, Eastman, and I’m with the interlayer division.

Paul Beers: And what we’re going to be talking about today, is laminated glass.

Bob Ford: That’s correct. Several applications we’ll go into and obviously our podcast here is more architecturally oriented, so that would be the focus.

Paul Beers: Yeah, so, when I have people asking me like customers or lay people, whatever, about laminated glass, I always say, hey, you know, it’s the stuff that’s in your car windshield, basically.

Bob Ford: Hey, you’re exactly right.

Paul Beers: And then they get it.

Bob Ford: A lot of the applications we have within the automotive market has actually moved beyond the windshield, and we can touch on that here this morning.

Paul Beers: Okay, yeah, that is interesting. So, before we go onto that, won’t you just tell the audience a little bit about who you are, and then, you know, a little bit about yourself?

Bob Ford: Yeah, so I’ve been in the glass industry a little over 15 years. I’ve worked for both the fabricator side of the market, with inter-pane glass back in the early 2000s, and most recently with Viracon, where I was their North Florida and Alabama architectural rep about the last 6½ years. But Viracon’s certainly one of Eastman’s biggest customers, as are Oldcastle and Trulight, and other glazing fabricators within the United States. So within Eastman, as I mentioned I’m in their advanced materials division, and I handle accounts on the East Coast of the United States and Canada. I basically work with the laminators to help them use our products more efficiently and get them into market.

Paul Beers: Great. Now let’s just jump right into laminated glass. We talked about this a little bit, but let’s just kind of talk about it, you know, go, go back and just run through the basics so that the listeners are on the same page with us. So, what is laminated glass, and, and how is it made?

Bob Ford: So, laminated glass is a composite material that consists of two or more layers of float glass. They can be various thicknesses, eighth-inch all the way up to half-inch wide, and then the interlayer acts as the glue or the sandwich in between the layers to form a cohesive unit. So the process basically starts with laying up two or more lites of glass with an interlayer in between them and that interlayer can be PVB, or it can be ionoplast, or it can be glass-clad polycarbonate laid up in between the lites of the glass. It is then run through an oven and a nip roller which heats the glass to about 160 degrees, and then compresses it through the nip roller somewhere between 80 and 110 psi. So once the glass unit comes through the nip and the oven process, it’s then placed in an autoclave, where it’s in there for about 3 hours. There’s about an hour of ramp-up time and it’s held at a temperature of somewhere between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, and then the glass is cooled, and what happens on the other side of that, is a piece of glass that has very special properties, the biggest thing being is most of the applications that we’re going to discuss is that, that composite retains glass shards and pieces should the glass be broken.

Paul Beers: When we talk about laminated glass, that’s not just all this stuff glued together, is it?

Bob Ford: Well, the laminated glass that we’ll talk about is, if you say “glued together,” you know, the glass is laminated and then autoclaved together, so yeah, it can be a 9/16th piece of glass, it can be used in an insulated unit, down here in Florida where I am, the hurricane code requires laminated glass, but the energy code often needs you to have an insulated piece of glass as well, so we can incorporate a laminated unit of glass into an insulated application.

Paul Beers: So Bob, what I was trying to get at was, when you think of taking all these, the interlayer, the two lites of glass, and you go through this process, it’s not just like it’s adhesively stuck together, I mean, I know I’ve seen where people try to pull it apart, and it’s like all integral together. Is that correct?

Bob Ford: Yeah, it isn’t anything like applying a glue or anything like that where it could be pulled apart. When a glass goes through this process, the interlayer binds with the glass, and basically what you have is, it’s a new product, it’s a composite product, with the properties that make it stronger, as well as much safer than standard float glass.

Paul Beers: So we talked a little bit at the beginning about the applications being automotive and architectural, and I’m interested, and I’m sure the listeners are about the automotive uses, just kind of a quick summary, just so we understand where things are there, which probably crosses over, or will cross over into architectural, and then we’ll jump in on the architectural side.

Bob Ford: Well that it does, and a lot of the applications are similar in principal, so what they mention on the outset of automotive really began in the windshield. The windshield and **** are still probably our largest volume market, and the way we go to market with that is we’ll work with big laminators like Carlex or AVC, who then will sell that product to Ford, or BMW, or whatever automobile manufacturer it might be, and, again, windshields ****, are important, but even that has changed. A lot of vehicles now have heads-up displays, and a lot of our newer projects, and more most interesting projects are actually within HUD units, and basically what the PVB does is it allows, or rather I should say prevents the ghosting of the image within a heads-up display there’s a small projector, which projects various information onto the windshield of a car, and what the HUD does, is basically, the HUD PVB will allow that image to be more sharp for the driver and prevent ghosting along the edges. In other parts of the vehicle, acoustics is one of the biggest growth areas that we see in automotive PVB. For awhile, architectural, or excuse me, acoustic skylights were kind of a premium product on only the higher-end models of cars. Now we’re seeing acoustics throughout the offering of automobile manufacturers like Ford, for example, and a lot of that growth, Paul, is really from the fact that, you know with their cell phones now, and being safe and hands-free driving and hands-free communication, not hands-free driving, but hands-free communication with your phone is very important, and in order for that to happen, when you’re speaking into the cabin of your car, and you’re listening on the speakers, you need a quieter cabin, so that’s where these acoustic products that really help make the, the cabin quieter, and to allow hands-free devices to work more effectively.

Paul Beers: Yeah, and you know we talk about the crossing over into architectural markets, I know acoustics are big and getting bigger, you know as things urbanize, with areas that we have more people on the planet, acoustics is becoming more and more important in the architectural market as well, which is where laminated glass began, even before the hurricane market they were using it in airports and things like that, so, are there any other crossovers from automotive that we’re seeing now, or we may see in the future?

Bob Ford: Yeah, I think acoustics is probably the biggest one that kind of translates back and forth. If you think of the idea of a windshield, that if something is to hit it from the outside, obviously the driver doesn’t want glass flying into his face or the passenger’s face, so the fact that the laminated windshield will retain those glass pieces, that thought process, if you will, translates into security as far as bomb blasts, it transfers to hurricane applications. It’s hard keeping the building envelope intact, and not allowing glass to fly into the building, so I would say that the basic technology of the laminated glass is probably the biggest crossover. Getting more specific to that, I would say yes, acoustics, and that’s becoming a growing segment of our market as well. I think something like 90 percent of the world’s population inhabits 10 percent of the land, so that automatically is going to bring us toward people in closer proximity together, and though we love our fellow man, we sometimes like a little bit of privacy as well, and as you mention in highly urbanized areas, high-rise buildings, the use of acoustic glazing is more important because it does provide more occupant comfort, and it also increases the sellable cost of buildings and rental spaces if these buildings have acoustic, better acoustic performance it’s just a more pleasant place to live and the owners can get more money for that.

Paul Beers: I’ve got a future guest coming up that’s gonna be talking about retrofitting hotels, and one of the big drivers for them is the acoustics, and they did a job, I know, they were telling me about in New York City, where they retrofitted the windows with laminated glass, and it made a huge difference for them, and for the property they could get a return on their investment just because they had better rooms, and they could basically charge more money for them.

Bob Ford: That’s correct, and I think the same design thought goes into hotels that are located in or near airports. Obviously, with jets taking off day and night, you typically see some really aggressive acoustic applications there, and within acoustics, the way PVB works, is it basically breaks up the sound wave. Glass itself is fairly rigid, so that rigid medium is going to transfer that sound wave pretty cleanly. The PVB is a softer material than the glass, so it disrupts that wave, provides dampening, and that’s where a lot of aesthetics is of laminated glass comes from it’s not only a thicker make-up, and a bigger barrier to get through when you combine two pieces of glass versus one, but you also have that dampening effect as well.

Paul Beers: So, let’s run through the list of the, you know, the architectural uses for laminated glass, and why they’re used for various different effects, and then we’ll go back and visit each one and talk about that a little bit more. So what’s the big list of reasons to use laminated glass?

Bob Ford: Well, within our company and the industry we like to refer to that as the Six S’s, and that would be Security, Safety, Sound, Solar, Storm, and Style. You know when a lot of the low-e coatings out there that a lot of our fabricators produce and use, solar’s probably a little bit lower on that list, because frankly, low-e coatings do a much more efficient job of controlling solar heat gain coefficient, or solar heat gain. However, on the security side, that’s probably one of the most important growing trends right now, as far as bomb blast goes and forced entry, but safety is also very important too. Safety’s probably the most generic usage. When we’re in a building and we’re talking about safety glass on the interior you know our ANSI, Z91 standard allows us to use just regular tempered glass, so that if that glass breaks, it would break in very small pieces, and won’t seriously hurt anybody, but laminated glass also qualifies as a safety glazing, and again, like many things we’ll talk about today the ability of the interlayer to retain the pieces of broken glass and make it ideal for a safety application.

Paul Beers: You know, the Six S’s, what I was just thinking about when you were going through them, is, if you, let’s say you pick one of them, say, let’s just say safety, you get the other five S’s along with that, in some degree on every single application, but do you not, well maybe not storm, because that’s designed specifically for that, but you get a lot of the, if not all of the other S’s every time you use laminated glass, do you not?

Bob Ford: That’s a great point, Paul, you’re absolutely right. So, let’s talk about as an example, one of the most rudimentary makeups that we’ll have for a laminated glass unit, so two pieces of quarter-inch glass with a 60-gauge PVB interlayer, and that product is fairly typical for both safety applications that I mentioned earlier in interior partition. It can be used for a handrail from a blast standpoint, you know, .060 PVB probably covers the majority of blast requirements for courthouses and airports and other buildings like that. Obviously there are specialty buildings, like embassies, that have higher degrees of blast requirements to them, but if you have a piece of .060 PVB in your glass, you have basically what’s in, I would argue, 70 percent of the blast application out there, which is just .060 PVB. As far as sound goes, .060 PVB will provide a very good improvement in STC, or sound transmission class, when compared to say, quarter-inch float glass. And then finally with style, when I refer to style, I sometimes speak about the colors that are, are available within the PVB family. Most of us who deal with float glass every day, you know, that if we’re buying float glass, we’re kind of limited to greens and blues and greys. Most of the major float manufacturers out there, even their specialty products, like Guardian’s crystal gray, or PPG’s solar blue, are basically in that blue, green, gray family. So, within Saflex’s PVB interlayers, we have reds and yellows which can be combined over 10,000 different colors available to provide a myriad of colors, like oranges, and lime green, and bright reds, and different shades of blue that typically aren’t offered in float glass colors, so when we speak about style, that’s kind of what I refer to is color. And again, all of those can be combined with our standard clear PVBs, to build a makeup, that would be appropriate for a hurricane application.

Paul Beers: We have a lot of architects in our audience, I know and this color discussion I’m sure is going to excite and interest them a lot, because it can take you out of the ho-hum, as you say, blue-green-gray spectrum, and pretty much give you anything you want, is that true?

Bob Ford: Yeah, it really is. The different base colors that we have really allow you to mix and match, and we have a website, vanceva.com, that your audience can visit, and you can see the various base colors that are available. We have earth tones, as well as more vibrant colors, and by putting up to four layers of these colors together, you can literally create thousands and thousands of different shades. To add to that, we also have products that provide opacity, or I should say interlayers that provide some opacity to glass, so if you have an area where you need privacy, you still want to get some natural light in through the window, but you want to have an obscured view, our cool white and artic snow interlayers, for example, will allow you to, I guess, diffuse the light, is the best description, and they can also be combined with color, so you really have quite a few options, if you’re an architect, that wants to go beyond the standard pallet of greens, and grays, and blues, that you find in float glass.

Paul Beers: Really exciting. One thing I want to just jump back on that I had thought about when we were talking before was, you mentioned the solar, that the low-e coatings do such a good job these days, and you can have low-e coatings in a laminated glass unit, correct?

Bob Ford: Yes, that is correct. Most of the time, and if we’re talking for the majority of the country that’s using, from the hurricane standpoint, you are required to use insulated glass. So, the basic makeup would be your quarter-inch outboard lite, with your low-e coating on the No. 2 surface, that’s subject to the air ****. You then have your half-inch air space, and then your laminated unit on the inside. However, Paul, there are also applications where we want to use a 9/16th lite of glass, with a low-e coating and an interlayer, and in those cases yes, PVB interlayer can be put right up against many of the low-e coatings that are offered on the market from manufacturers like Guardian, Viracon, or PPG.

Paul Beers: Yeah, so not everything always works, but a lot of it does, and so an architect, or **** buyer would work with these manufacturers to find out exactly what they offer in that regard, correct?

Bob Ford: That’s correct, yeah. It would again depending on the performance required in your building as far as U-value goes, or solar heat gain and the colors that you want, because, as we know our low-e coatings will impart color, so we often have a little caveat that if an architect wants a red accent piece, or a yellow accent piece, make sure they get that sample with a low-e coating in place, because as you know, a lot of our low-e coatings that are most popular today, particularly the triple-filtered coating lend a little bit of a green hue to the glass, and that’s where, you know, we want to have a sample or a mockup done before so the architect knows exactly what they’re getting, and Paul, that kind of segues me into another area of that speaking of that green hue to the glass, I know a lot of our audience are trying to find coating and glazing solutions to kind of get rid of that green, so a lot of low-iron glass being used in the market today, and we actually have a structural product that is intended for use with low-iron glass that, goes more toward a slightly blue cast rather than a green cast, and it looks really, really nice when used in low-iron substrates.

Paul Beers: And low-iron just so we’re all on the same page here, low iron is like super-clear glass, that, would that be the right –

Bob Ford: Correct. Correct, and you might hear the term ultra-clear, and basically the process is that it’s further refined from standard clear glass, where more of the iron is removed, and it’s the iron in the glass, particularly when it’s heat-treated, that kind of gives it that, that greenish hue. So, when we pull more iron out of the float batch, we can get a low-iron product, and all of the major float manufacturers out there do offer a low-iron product. You may have heard of a, you know, PPG fired the Starfire, for example, so different manufacturers have their different low-iron substrate on the market.

Paul Beers: Now I just want to throw this out there not to be a downer, but it is more expensive, also.

Bob Ford: It is kind of that…you get what you pay for, and, yeah. So low-iron glass, typically will add in, if you’re using two units of it, or two pieces, **** typical one-inch makeup, you’re going to be looking at somewhere around $1.00 to $1.25 a square foot premium for each of those lites of glass.

Paul Beers: And I have to say, so I’ve worked on a lot of projects with consultants or with an architect that looked at low-iron, and in the past they’ve been budget-busters. They have a budget, they want the low-iron glass, and then they get the prices, and they can’t afford it, but it sounds like the delta has come down a lot, if it’s only $1.00 or $1.50 a square foot, it used to be a lot more than that.

Bob Ford: Yeah, Paul, actually, I think I actually misspoke there. That delta is closer to $2.00 to $2.25. The other thing I was gonna circle back to here, when we’re talking about laminated glass and in a safety application is heat soaking, and being able to prevent nickel sulfide in the heat soaking aspect of it is more the $1.00, $1.25 a foot. You are correct, I did misspeak, that the low-iron glasses are typically $2.00 to $2.25 a foot premium, based on a quarter-inch substrate, so that was my mistake.

Paul Beers: No, that’s fine but even that has come down from, I think what it used to be, so I think there’s more possibilities out there to maybe use that, and I know a lot of architects like that kind of a color influence that they’re looking for, so that’s good information.

Bob Ford: And especially if you’re looking at, you know, you look at the cost of the entire laminated unit, I mean a piece of inch and 5/16 laminated glass, depending on the interlayer, and the low-e coatings in the substrate, may be anywhere from, you know, 20 to 25 bucks a square foot. So you look at it from that aspect and the delta for the low-iron is not quite as big as jump as far as the percentage of the whole unit is concerned.

Paul Beers: That’s right. So, let’s talk about security, a little bit of more blast and forced entry. You know, the blast thing, unfortunately, has become a lot more prominent over the years, with the, the rural events, I guess I’d call it, being what they are. The forced entry, I don’t think laminated glass gets enough credit for how it performs in that regard, and if you just think about it, typically, like a storefront, you know, like a shop, you know, the thing in the past you would always have would be a tempered glass unit, and, **** a mischaracterization but everybody gets it, tempered glass I described as the glass that breaks into a million pieces, so if somebody breaks the glass, it’s basically on the ground, and there’s a big hole in the building, and laminated glass, what happens there?

Bob Ford: So that’s an excellent point. This is something that I think a lot of my folks, for example, about 2 years ago had, they live in down in Fort Myers, so they had hurricane blast windows installed in their home. You know, I think they were just thinking, yeah, you know, we’ll be safer in a storm, but as a secondary, benefit of it, is absolutely the prevention of forced entry. To go through a piece of tempered glass with a blunt object is fairly easy to do. I mean, tempered glass, as you know, is twice as strong as heat-soaked glass, which is twice as strong as regular float glass, as far as blunt impact, but you can break it fairly easily with, with a bat or some other implement. Laminated glass, on the other hand, you can go at that for 20 to 30 minutes, and you’re not gonna make any sizeable hole in it. The other thing is that, you know, in both areas where this glass is located, residential areas, you know, someone’s banging away at your sliding glass door with a piece of laminated glass is gonna draw a lot of attention. So, as a secondary kind of passive benefit is the security and safety from a forced entry standpoint is one that is very little thought of features of it, but absolutely is one of its strongest attributes.

Paul Beers: Yeah, and you know, I always said, if we were back when the hurricane market was developing, we were talking about the other benefits of glass, and you know, **** back then was, if you have I guess we’d call it an opportunistic thief, who was trying to throw a brick through the window or hit it with something, they’re gonna get tired and go somewhere else, because if it’s not going to work out then it won’t go well for them.

Bob Ford: Correct. And particularly in Florida you have a lot of part-time residents down here, and a lot of houses that are basically, no one’s living in them for several months out of the year. Those might possibly be a victim or a target for some thief, but, again the forced entry resistance of even regular .060 PVB, as most people are having laminated glass in their one- or two-story homes they have likely 090 PVB or an even stronger interlayer. Unless you have really specialized cutting tools, a saw, and things like that the average opportunistic thief, as you say, is not going to be able to make any kind of entry through a window like that.

Paul Beers: So people are thinking, “Well, what about if there’s a fire how does the fire department deal with that?” And they do have those sophisticated tools you just referenced, right?

Bob Ford: They do. They do. Yeah, I mean the glass, obviously, like anything else, it does have its limitations. I mean, for a thief with a crow bar or a baseball bat or a brick or a rock, yeah, he’s not gonna have any luck getting through it. A fireman, however, they have special equipment which basically allows them to saw through the glass, much like they would go through any other kind of wall and create an opportunity to get in or out of the structure. So, yeah, from a firefighting standpoint, they all carry that type of equipment on board so that they can get through that laminated glass fairly quickly. The average thief doesn’t have all that in the, trunk of his car.

Paul Beers: Yeah, no, no, no. My hope is that we don’t have any thieves listening to the podcast, so, but, another thing the fire department can do is they can chop through it with their high-tech axes as well.

Bob Ford: Correct.

Paul Beers: You know, the thing with the security applications, is gonna segue us into talking about storm as well, and that it provides passive protection, and maybe you’d talk a little bit about that, because that’s a really big deal as well.

Bob Ford: Yeah, so, again, one of the nice things about laminated glass is that it’s always there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Particularly for a storm application the alternative product as far as opening protection may include, boarding up your house with plywood, putting up hurricane shutters, things like that, but those do have their drawbacks, first of all is that if you’re boarding up your house for the winter, the summer, rather, to go back north, it’s pretty obvious to people looking at your house from the outside that you’re not home. The other aspect is the difficulty of storage and putting up those shutters every time a storm comes in can be a bit difficult, particularly for some of our older population, that doesn’t want to be up on a ladder, or pulling these heavy pieces of metal or vinyl or other materials out of their garage, so laminated glass is always in place. It’s always there working, and it’s just a very logical solution, particularly you know, Florida has a lot of retired folks out here, and that just gives them good peace of mind that their home is protected from a variety of threats.

Paul Beers: So I live in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, I’ve had this house that I’m in now for I dunno, 10 or 12 years. It was built to the new code, and it was provided with removeable storm panels, which work very well, but I have to tell you, every time a storm comes, it’s a major undertaking to get them out of the garage, and get them set up on the house, and if you hire somebody to do it they’re gonna charge you, like, a thousand dollars or more to do it, and it’s a major hassle, so you start thinking to yourself, if a storm’s approaching, is it gonna hit, should I do it, shouldn’t I do it? So, last year I decided to put hurricane impact windows in throughout the house with laminated glass, and, you know, it wasn’t inexpensive, but we did it, and got rid of all the shutters, which was great, and so this year, Hurricane Matthew was approaching the east coast of Florida, and it was a big deal. They thought it was gonna hit West Palm Beach, and it, you know, ultimately it didn’t, but I was on vacation in Morocco, hiking, when all this was going on, so, you know, obviously I’m concerned. I didn’t have a lot of connectivity, I was texting my son and whatnot, but the great news for me was, we were good. All we had to do was make sure the doors were closed, doors and windows were closed and locked, and we were ready for it, and I have to tell you, the, the difference, the peace of mind, and the confidence that it gives you to have that passive protection all the time, and with the breaking and entering and whatnot, it really makes a lot of sense if you live in an area that needs something like that.

Bob Ford: You’re, you’re absolutely right. I know when a storm is coming like that, you know, having lived in Florida since the late 90s, I’ve seen a lot of hurricane reports on the news, and when a storm is coming your way, there’s a lot of other things to do, like having a plan if you need to evacuate or take care of pets or if you’re going to stay, stocking up on your water, and food, and all those things. There’s a lot and life gets really busy when a storm comes in, and if you don’t have to put up hurricane shutters, that’s one less thing to worry about. I know I can also offer a kind of a personal story here. Before my folks down south had gotten their hurricane windows in, they had shutters up, so when my folks go north I came down to help my father remove them, and he had the old metal panels that screw in, which work very well, they also tend to be very heavy at times, and sometimes a little clumsy to handle. I ended up dropping one of those on my foot, so about you know, 30 minutes later, and 14 stitches later, I had a nice permanent reminder on my right foot of the benefits of laminated glass versus hurricane shutters, so, a lot of the products are now becoming so much more affordable as far as windows go, and I think that anyone who either is a part-time resident, or let’s face it, a lot of us travel for our jobs, and if we have a storm, we might not always be able to get there to put up those shutters, so having laminated glass is absolutely good peace of mind.

Paul Beers: In 2004, I was in Seattle doing water testing on some hotel projects as an expert witness assignment, and I had my son with me at the time, he was helping out, and I remember we went and paid a lot of money for a plane ticket, took the red-eye home, which is not part of my normal DNA, and flew all the way back to Florida so we could put our shutters up, and it’s insanity, basically, but the whole plane from Seattle to Atlanta was loaded with people going back to Florida for the very same reason. It’s really interesting.

Bob Ford: Yeah, it’s you know, as I am now in my mid-40s, and I really don’t want to find any reason to get on a ladder if I can help it, maybe to put up Christmas lights, but that’s about it. But handling those panels, and the weight of them, it’s just that laminated glass is a much simpler solution, and is there a, more of an investment up front, absolutely, but I think all the benefits that it provides just really makes it a good investment.

Paul Beers: And then on the business side of things, you have people that may be responsible for putting shutters up, if you have shutters on your facility, have families at home, they have the same worry, all the same worries we just talked about, so it makes, even, maybe even more sense, in commercial and multi-family applications, you know, not to mention when you get up in the air above the first floor, to have the passive protection so that that’s just one less thing to deal with, because these things sneak up on you. I’m out in Morocco, clueless, and all of a sudden there’s a hurricane about to wipe out south Florida, and I wouldn’t have been ready for it, so it really it’s compelling, I think.

Bob Ford: And the thing that they can change their track so quickly, and their intensity so quickly. I remember when Hurricane Wilma came through south Florida back a few years ago, and it was kind of off the coast, it really didn’t look like anything that much, and then all of a sudden, it just ramped up into a pretty damaging storm, so, yeah, you know, with hurricanes we are very good at or getting better at predicting where they’re gonna go, and how strong it’d be, but there’s still a lot of randomness out there and chance, so, better to be protected, and again, laminated glass is one less thing to worry about when that time comes.

Paul Beers: That’s right. So, for hurricane windows and doors and commercial systems, what has to happen to actually become a hurricane window, for a product to actually be a hurricaner, and they use, by the way, “hurricane proof,” I hear “hurricane-proof windows,” and that’s not a good term, and in fact Will Smith, who works for us, just wrote a little blog article for us last week talking about the misnomers that people need to understand, even with the hurricane windows, that they provide protection, they keep the hurricane out, that doesn’t mean that they’re shatter-proof or anything like that. But let’s just talk about what does it take to be called a hurricane rate, or a rating for hurricanes or wind-borne debris, with a window or glazing system.

Bob Ford: So, it’s basically two components. So we can talk about hurricane-resistant glass, I think is a better term, and like you mention, Paul, hurricane-proof indicates that the glass won’t break. I’ve had, you know, architects have asked me before, “Well, you know, if it breaks during the hurricane then we have to replace it,” and I tell them, “Yes, you’ll have to replace that window, but it’s better than replacing your entire building.” So when we’re testing, we’re basically looking at their framing system, now that can be most of my life is spent in the commercial segment, so that could be a curtain wall, that could be a storefront, that could be a fixed opening, or it could be a residential window. So, when we talk about the testing, we need the framing portion, and then the glazing in-fill that goes in it, and basically the main part of the glazing in-fill is the laminate, or the laminate interlayer. As the testing goes, glass, if it’s annealed, and heat-strengthened or fully tempered, it’s not necessarily manufacturer-specific. You could be getting your glass from Cardinal, or Guardian, or Viracon, or Oldcastle, Trulight, whoever. It’s the interlayer that has to be tested with a specific framing system. So what they’ll do is they’ll build a mock-up of this, and it’s also gonna be size-dependent, so you’ll have a given size, and it’ll end up in the commercial size of things, most people test up to about a 40-square-foot piece of glass. So let’s say we have our five-by-eight test specimen, it’s either gonna be, insulated-laminated, or just laminated glass, and there’s two different tests, Paul, that we do. The first one is called a large missile, and that’s meant for any glazing that’s from ground level to 30 feet in the air, and this is typically a 90-gauge PVB, or it could be a specialty higher-performing interlayer, an ionoplast material, or a composite PVB, and basically during the test, it’s comprised of two components, the first is an impact portion, where they fire a 9-pound piece of two-by-four lumber at 50 feet per second, which is about 34 miles an hour, and they impact, the glass with that, and then the second test is the cycling, and that’s basically to replicate hurricane winds that could last, you know, 4 or 5, 6 hours if the storm moves through your area, and that requires positive and negative cycling with 4,500 cycles each at varying degrees of the test pressure, and basically that impact and pressure test, if the glass makes it through that, it will be determined to be passed as a hurricane assembly, and so, again, we have to be cautious of not just putting any piece of laminated glass into any framing system. That piece of glass being an interlayer makeup must be tested specifically with that given framing system.

Paul Beers: That’s a great point, too, the magic glass doesn’t just make it into a hurricane window, it’s gotta go through this design and testing process, and then it’s actually gotta be approved, put in the product approval system, the State of Florida would be one, and I know Miami-Dade County was the first one, still **** leadership position there as well, so people often ask me, you know, ” I’m looking at getting new windows for my house, or for my building, what do I do?” Well, the first thing you start with is getting the Florida building codes, or Miami-Dade product approval listing, and make sure that it’s **** testing, make sure that it meets those required wind blows **** for your project.

Bob Ford: That’s correct. I often have worked with some architects on retrofits and, you know, they want to see if they can get away, and it typically doesn’t happen in Florida, since the market’s been so developed down here, but you know, “Hey, we want to remove this existing quarter-inch glass and put in hurricane glass in the same frame.” Well, that would certainly mitigate the potential damage, yet it would not be considered a hurricane-resistant system. Again, that word “system” means glass tested with a specific framing system.

Paul Beers: The other thing I was thinking about when you were talking about the hurricane glass, what about tornados? I know there’s not a certification program, but I’ve often thought, well, not thought, I know this is just instinctive, that you see these tornados, we’re getting into tornado season, and well actually it’s the springtime, but coming up, and every year there’s these horrible tragedies where towns get hit, you know, I remember Tuscaloosa, Alabama was one, and I’m trying to think where the other was, I think, Kansas. We had hospitals that were badly damaged, and I thought and wondered, why, like if you have a hospital in Tornado Alley, why wouldn’t you put in a hurricane-type of window which would give you a much better chance of surviving, whether it’s rated or not. Have you seen any projects where that’s been done?

Bob Ford: Yeah, well we have something down here, when I mentioned different large-missile impact, we also have something down here what are called “essential facility,” and those are what they refer to as “Level E” glass. And as I mentioned, the standard large-missile test fired a 9-pound two-by-four at 50 feet per second. With the Level E, that two-by-four is fired at 80 feet per second, or about 55 miles an hour, and what that requires, Paul, is a, a hardier interlayer to handle that impact. Now, if you’re going from that to a tornado there’s a FEMA standard out there that I think they want the missile to be fired, the two-by-four, at something like 100 miles an hour, and that is an incredibly difficult test to pass. We have done some and worked with some of our partners to try to create double-insulated makeup basically creating almost like bullet-resistant glass, to be able to resist something like that, like a 9-pound two-by-four at, at 100 miles an hour. You know, as far as those buildings that are in Tornado Alley are subject to that, you know, if you get the right tornado hitting you unfortunately, there’s probably not much that glass, you know, if you got caught in a 4 or 5 tornado, it’s just, there’s not really a whole lot of building material out there that can withstand that. With that said, laminated glass would do a lot and would go a long way to mitigating some of that damage. Again, the idea of maintaining and keeping those broken glass pieces in place, adhered to the middle layer, and try to protect the building envelope would certainly be a benefit in a lot of cases where hospitals and first responders and folks like that, when their buildings are subject to a storm like that.

Paul Beers: Yeah. And I’ve just thought that the hurricane window probably works in a lot of other areas, not a failsafe, but certainly a epic improvement over not doing anything.

Bob Ford: Absolutely. Correct. Again, a lot of the other benefits we talked about with laminated glass particularly the acoustics, and a lot of hospital settings that would have an added benefit, and from a design standpoint, particularly a lot of the children’s hospitals that we’ve seen that are going up, architects are often using very bright colored windows interspersed amongst the curtain wall and again, you can accomplish all those things with laminated glass.

Paul Beers: So this segues into my closing question, which relates to the architects and owners that are listening to the Everything Building Envelope podcast, why should they use laminated glass?

Bob Ford: Well, I just think it provides so many different benefits and again, depending on the application you’re talking about, but, basically, it’s an enhancement over standard float glass. Again, from a color standpoint, your pallet of colors is completely opened up to you. As far as from a security standpoint, if you’re designing for hurricane, and you’ve got 90-gauge PVB in your building, guess what, you’ve probably got serious blast protection already in place as well, as well as very good acoustic, as well as prevention of forced entry. So, I think this one product just has so many attributes about it, when applied to the architectural market, that, you know, laminated glass is more expensive than regular glass. I mean, if you’re comparing a 1-inch insulated unit to an inch and 5/16th insulated laminated unit you know, you’re talking several dollars a square foot more. However, all of these other benefits that come along with it, you know, just give you a really good bang for your buck as a designer, and I think we’ll see this trend continue for the projects that we see on the horizon.

Paul Beers: It’s a very, very good performing glass system, basically.

Bob Ford: Yeah.

Paul Beers: So, Bob, thanks so much for coming on, it was really interesting, it was insightful, it was thought-provoking, I thought it was great, and it’s really good to talk about this, and let the listeners know, some of or a lot of this stuff, but to really be able to hear the whole picture, and then give them something to think about going forward.

Bob Ford: Well, Paul, I appreciate you having me, and I did want to thank you for one thing, that the fact that we’re recording this November the 7th, you didn’t ask me any political questions, so, I thank you for that. I was waiting for one of those, though, and the only thing I was going to add, was that something both sides of the aisle, you guys agree on here, is that actually, Saflex interlayers are used to protect our nation’s most prized items and charter to freedom, that being the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. All those, if you go to the National Archives you’re going to view them beneath layers of Saflex, laminated glass, so a lot of applications perhaps you don’t think of every day.

Paul Beers: Good stuff. So, thank you, everyone, for listening to the Everything Building Envelope podcast, this is Paul Beers, ’til next time, so long.

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Building Conception to Completion from an Architect’s Eye

James LaGreca – DSS Condo

  • Who is required to obtain a 40-Year Recertification?
  • What does the 40-Year Recertification consist of?
  • What gets inspected?
  • When does an owner need to perform the recertification?
  • When is the report due?
  • Where does an owner obtain 40-year Recertification information in order to start the process?
  • Where do we find a qualified Architect/Engineer?
  • Why do we need to perform these inspections?
  • How do we get the 40-Year Recertification done?

Building Conception to Completion from an Architect’s Eye

Our Guest: James LaGreca with DSS Condo. DSS Condo is actually a sub-division of DSS which stands for Development Service Solutions.  In this podcast, Paul talks with Jim about his professional experience as an Architect with DSS and some of the most interesting projects he has been a part of.

About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.


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The Everything Building Envelope Episode Transcript:

Paul:   Welcome back everyone to the Everything Building Envelope podcast.  We have a very interesting show today that I’m excited about and our guest is James LaGreca with DSS Condo, welcome James.

James: Thank you. Good to be here.

Paul:   I just want to tell everybody before we get into this and remind them that we have the Everything Building Envelope newsletter and if anybody’s interested in receiving that, they need to text the word buildingenvelope, all one word, buildingenvelope to 22828.  So again,. text buildingenvelope to 22828.  They’ll put you on the list.  It’s a really interesting newsletter with some interesting technical articles and other general interests related to the building envelope.  So anyway, James, you’re with DSS Condo and our firms have worked together on some projects already in fact quite a few I think.

James: Right, that’s correct.

Paul: We thought it’d be really interesting to the audience to hear it’s different than a lot of the stuff that we talk about, you know, a lot of times we are focused on new construction and things like that.

James: Mm hmm.

Paul: And we’re, you know, we’re working on existing buildings and, you know, a lot of times they’re 40 years old or older so I thought that’d be pretty interesting to talk about but before we get into that, could you please just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself?

James: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Well, I’ve been involved in the construction industry since I was a child.  I actually started out in the roofing and siding business working for my father.  He was a roofer and sider which eventually he got into general contracting.  At that point in time we got involved basically with all aspects of the construction trade and I did that throughout my early years and when I was about 33-years-old I decided to go back to school for architecture.  I studied architecture.  I got my Master’s Degree in architecture and shortly thereafter I started working with DSS, Development Services Solutions.  In addition to that I actually wound up getting a teaching position at the university where I studied, FIU, and I actually teach structural systems and design for architecture students and we cover steel, wood and reinforced concrete and then throughout the last few years I’ve also managed to become certified in post-tension cables repair. I thought that would be pretty helpful considering all the work that we do.  We do a lot of plaza deck repair architect repair and we know that there’s quite a few buildings out there that use post tension cable systems so that would help as well.  And I’ve been working with DSS for about 3 years now so it’s been quite the experience.  The work that we get involved in is never the same so it definitely keeps things interesting.  I learn new stuff every day.  It’s been a fantastic ride.

Paul: Some of the most interesting projects that we worked on with DSS, you know, as you say you gotta put your thinking cap on because you’re never gonna do the same thing twice.

James: Mm hmm.

Paul: And it’s fun and we really enjoy working with DSS and working on the projects.  Can you tell the listeners more about DSS and DSS Condo?

James: Yes, absolutely.  DSS Condo is actually a sub-division of DSS which stands for Development Service Solutions.  Development Service Solutions was founded by Donald Kipnis.  Donald Kipnis has been in the construction industry down here in Miami for probably the last 35 years.  He is a construction guru and his knowledge and experience has enabled him to create this company which helps clients manage their construction projects from beginning to end.  So basically, we’re owners represented as construction managers and as I said we help the client manage the entire construction process.  DSS Condo in particular however caters strictly to Condominium Associations where DSS caters to commercial.  DSS Condo what we do is we help out the Associations navigate through the lengthy and daunting process, associated with any large scale construction project.  We take them through the design process, the permit process, bid solicitations, contract negotiations, construction management from beginning to end and we make sure that the project stays on schedule and within budget.  That is our main goal.

Paul: How does DSS add value to the process for a Condo Association?  I mean, why can’t they just use an architect or an Engineer to do all this?

James: Well typically architects and engineers first and foremost, they’re not construction managers.  They are architects and engineers and architects will design how they see fit – what their vision is and while they might take input from the client, more often than not they do not design to budget.  Engineers pretty much do the same thing.  They will engineer things to make sure that it is being engineered to the point where, where they won’t get sued.  So basically, yes.  Sometimes they have a tendency to overcompensate and what we do is we thoroughly review the design whether it’s a design generated from an architect or it’s a design generated from an Engineer.  We’ll review that.  We’ll question it.  We always question it.  We question everything and more often than not we find ways to tackle the project that are more cost effective and can be done quicker so that’s the main benefit of what we do.  In addition to that, I mean, of course we manage the entire project from conception to completion.  We track everything that comes along with the construction project and we manage all the key players in the projects, architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, sub-contractors, so on and so forth and we have to keep the client’s best interest in mind so basically we handle everything on behalf of the Association or the client in general so that they don’t have anything to worry about.

Paul: We collaborated and worked with DSS on a project in Coconut Grove a couple years ago that was a major 40-year re-certification that involved concrete remediation, redoing big time plaza decks that were over a parking garage, we replaced windows, we restored handrails, we, we did a lot of stuff and I have to say it was brilliant the way Donald brought everything together and, you know, they were way over budget.  They had an engineering firm originally involved that put together this budget that was just not realistic.  Donald came in and kind of sliced it and diced it and broke it all up into parts and pieces and then brought in a team of contractors or subcontractors to basically accomplish the same thing in a much more efficient way and our firm was involved in helping with that – re-engineer it and, and that re-engineering brought them within the budget and then we had had a full-time inspector on the project for – which, which lasted over a year and it was a very successful end result to customer, financially was within their budget and they were happy and technically everything was done to a very high level of quality and level of care and really a great experience for something that was quite frankly off the rails when, when DSS and when Donald got involved with it.

James: Yeah and as a matter of fact there’s so much money left over in the budget that the Association actually was able to take that money and apply it to changing all of the windows, the corner windows on the building.

Paul: And that’s really adding value obviously.

James: Absolutely.  Absolutely.  That was a great success story.

Paul: Yeah.  So that was the building called building recertification.  You know, it was the impetus for getting that started was this requirement for a 40-year recertification.  Can you kind of talk about what that requirement is?

James: Yes.  Absolutely.  Uh, well basically it’s a two-part inspection that caters to the structural and electrical components of the building.  And it is imposed by the Florida building code and it states that all buildings 40 years of age must undergo an electrical and structural inspection by a licensed architect or engineer.  This must take place in order to be recertified by the building department.  Subsequent to that forced recertification the building is also required to obtain an additional recertification every 10 years thereafter.  So this process is again imposed by the Florida Building Code and it’s ultimately the owner’s responsibility to make sure that when their building is approaching that age of 40 years that they have to get this process done.

Paul: So when you say there’s a structural portion and an electrical portion, what exactly is looked at with regards to those two big subcategories.

James: Okay well, for the structural portion the structural engineer who is gonna be inspecting the structural components of the building, they’ll take a look at everything structurally related and they’ll go – they’ll inspect the foundation, the floor systems, the framing systems whether it’s steel, concrete, wood, what have you, they’ll look at the masonry walls, the roof systems, balconies, windows, etc. and they’ll basically write a report which states the current condition of those structural elements and if they are in need of repair then they will write a report which will dictate the repairs needed.  As far as the electrical is concerned, they’ll look at the electrical service the circuits, the conduits, the lighting and generators, the fire alarms, smoke detectors meter electrical and mechanical rooms, electrical panels, etc.  The electrical engineer will cover all that.

Paul: So does this have to be started on the 40th birthday of the building or does it have to be something that they need to look ahead and have it completed by then, how does that work?

James: Well, it, it’s actually supposed to take place 40 years after the building receives it certificate of occupancy when it was originally built so that is when it’s supposed to take place.  Could you do it a little bit before that?  Absolutely, and it’s actually recommended to start the process a little bit sooner.  Uh, you can’t start it too many years in advance however you can start it within let’s say the year prior to its 40th birthday and you can start the process by vetting engineers and because the process of selecting an engineer is in it of itself can be a lengthy one.

Paul: Yeah and obviously you’ve gotta start with the engineer and then find out where you stand. Now with your experience with these 40 year recertifications.  Do the engineers ever go out and look at the building and say everything’s good or what do you typically see coming out of that initial survey?

James: Well I wouldn’t say typically the building is deemed okay or not.  Nothing is – seems to be typical these days so anything can happen but more often than not they’ll find a few things that might need some repair.  Hopefully for the owners’ sake that it’s not too much that needs a tremendous amount of repair but there are some instances where the damage is, is quite severe and then that usually triggers a much bigger project – a remediation project.

Paul: If a Condominium Association, you know, gets to the 40th year and they had their report done and it turns out they have to, you know, do concrete repair on, on the balcony which his not inexpensive.  Or they have, you know big system problems to the elevators or something like that that looks, say you had a seven figure repair bill, that can be pretty much something that they’re not prepared for – what, what can they do to make sure when they get to 40 years they don’t get smacked?

James: Well, that’s where we come in.  So what we do is we will look at the scope of work that was created from the inspecting engineer and based on the repairs that are needed that will determine which professional needs to be hired in order to remedy the situation and we’ll go through the entire process on the owner’s behalf and we’ll vet all the professionals, we’ll vet all the contractors, we’ll put together an entire team to remediate the work and then we’ll manage the process and make sure that the owner is getting the best value for the work that’s needed.

Paul: Let’s say that I’m living in, in a building that’s, you know, is 38-years-old and really starting to understand that this is coming up.  Regardless of whether the building – you think the building is in great condition or not how does one go about getting this done?

James: Okay.  Well, the owner or the owner’s representative needs to hire a registered architect or engineer to perform the electrical and structural inspections for that building and then submit a completed report of the inspection to the local building department for their review and approval.

Paul: So what if the report contained items that were not passed on some of the inspection items that says that there’s deficiencies.  What goes on at that point?

James: Okay at that point then the architect or engineer writes up a recommended scope of repair based on his or her reports.  The building owner will need to hire the appropriate contractor to perform said work.  Once the work is complete, the architect or engineer will inspect the work performed and approve the recertification assuming the work was performed as required.

Paul: So what’s the main items that show up?  I know every – every – every building is different but what’s some of the typical items that show up on these recertification inspections that need to be remediated?

James: Well if there’s a lot of issues with the building envelope more often than not and it might be a low level repair where there’s some stucco delaminating or it might be a lot more expensive where you have some spalling concrete.  Obviously here in Miami a lot of these buildings have balconies and over time the, the steel reinforcement corrodes, the balconies – the spalling process starts and the concrete starts to break off it becomes a very unsafe condition and those balconies will need remediation.  The extent of the remediation of course depends on the extent of the deterioration but in any event those are pretty typical.  You’ll have issued with the windows and the openings around the windows.  Sometimes you’ll have issues with the foundation or structural elements of the building columns, beams and so on.  In the instance where the building has elevated decks for parking, full decks or plaza decks – those decks need to be remediated as well when there’s deterioration taking place and depending on the system will determine the type of repair basically getting down to the steel and removing the corrosion from the steel in order to remediate those areas of, of the deck per say but also then in, in the event where it’s, uh, it’s a post-tension cable then it, it’s a different type of repair but, but nonetheless those are the types of repairs that we typically stumble across throughout the 40 year recertification process.  And in addition to that, in addition to the remediation of course comes waterproofing systems that will need to be implemented after the repairs are done.

Paul: So, like, this building – the one that we talked about in Coconut Grove, basically that involved concrete remediation which was, you know, pretty invasive.  I mean, people weren’t allowed – obviously allowed out on the balconies and all the bad materials had to be removed and the steel had to be replaced and then the balconies had to be tied into the **** and then the, the balconies had to be rebuilt and in conjunction with that there was repairing the railings, there was a whole inspection of the stucco.  You mentioned stucco delamination.  I’m really glad you did because that’s something I think that we see a lot of.

James: Absolutely.

Paul: Not just in Florida but everywhere and that involves, you know, it’s a pretty comprehensive inspection and you gotta basically determine often times by sounding it with a hammer or other some type of device you have determine which stucco needs to come off and be repaired.  Now when that’s being done how do you make sure that what needs to be repaired gets repaired and what doesn’t need to be repaired doesn’t get repaired.  Does that make sense?

James: Absolutely.  Yeah, and that’s where you guys come in.  So we’ll reach out to a company like this – like yours, and we get an engineering firm like yourself to come and do that preliminary inspection and basically to write a scope of work for us and, you know, by method of sounding it’s pretty typical.  Visual inspections as well and sometimes there is some invasive inspections that take place, but nonetheless more often than not we’re very confident at the end of this process that the scope of work is as accurate as it can be.  As far as making sure that the repairs get completed as per the specifications from a firm like yourself.

James: Yeah and that’s where you come in again and your inspectors who inspected the work product in the process of the repairs is a very important part of the overall process.  Having that third party inspector represent the owner is a very helpful tool to make sure that the work is being performed properly.

Paul: So once we fix the – we do the concrete remediation and we fix the stucco, typically what happens I think on many of these 40 year recertifications is they then get resealed, they get repainted, re-caulked and basically make everything look brand new again.

James: Right. That’s right.

Paul: So what can buildings do…   say people are out there that have buildings that are 20-years-old, you know, 10-years-old, 30-years-old, what can they do along the way to not have this huge repair scope when they get to the 40 year required recertification.

James: Well, maintenance is the key and what a lot of building managers don’t realize and what a lot of Associations don’t realize is that they need to maintain all parts of their building throughout the entire course of the year.  The elements here in South Florida in particular are  very harsh elements. The sun, the humidity the salt in the air and so on and so forth and if the building is not being properly maintained, painted every so many years maintaining the waterproofing membranes, maintaining the roof membranes, maintaining any elements of the envelope most importantly.  These are things that they sometimes just put on the back burner and if to many years pass then it comes back to bite them.  What they could do also is prepare for these big ticket projects is they could have a reserve study performed and this will help them start to save money for things that have an expected lifespan whether it’s a mechanical system in the building or something dealing with the building envelope. At least it enables them to prepare financially in advance.  They can prolong the life of these systems within their building through the maintenance that I was mentioning a minute ago.

Paul: So like with the exterior facade, you know, I think a lot of buildings are more into keeping up with their roof than other parts of the building because it’s easy you can, you know, a lot of times you just ride the elevator or walk up a flight of stairs and then and walk around and they can keep up with that and it’s pretty normal to do regular roof inspections and if you do, you know, repairs and maintenance along the way it clearly extends the lifespan of the roof.  You might get 25 years doing it that way then you got 15 if you didn’t do it but what we don’t see and I’d like to hear it from you are seeing that people don’t really inspect their facades so if you have a stucco crack on the 13th floor, nobody ever sees this ’til stucco starts falling off.

James: Right and that has been our experience as well.  We will come into a building to take a look at Items A through E and none of those items are dealing with stucco delamination – it’s things that they’ve managed to overlook more often than not we’ll see it and we’ll let them know that, hey listen, you have an additional issue here let’s, let’s do a proper inspection so we know what we’re up against because if you leave it too long it just, it worsens exponentially. You have  to maintain the building envelope, you know, and if you have to – to have regularly scheduled painting performed every call it 10 years and more often than not they don’t and it just leads to bigger issues down the road.  What typically happens is they don’t want to spend the money, they don’t have the money so they put it on the back burner but it winds up being so much more expensive down the road.  You can’t keep kicking the can down the road.  You, you gotta address the issues as they come up and actually be proactive and have a maintenance schedule for every single part of your building if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

Paul: So instead of throwing in X dollars per unit every year in keeping up with things you end up with this sometimes multi-million-dollar repair bill which involves assessments and causes extreme hardship to residents that may not have the financial means to cover an $100,000.00 bill out of nowhere because they didn’t spend a little bit every year along the way to prevent that.

James: That’s right.  That’s exactly right.

Paul: Yeah.  So James, really interesting.  I, I think, um, great information for the listeners.  It’s just insightful and I, I think it’s thought provoking and I really appreciate you coming on today so we’ll have to do it again sometime.

James: Yeah absolutely.  Thanks for having me.  It’s definitely, a pleasure I appreciate it.  Thank you.

Paul: Great. So I want to remind everybody again about the Everything Building Envelope newsletter and texting the word buildingenvelope, all one word, buildingenvelope to 22828.  Again that’s buildingenvelope to 22828 for our newsletter which contains technical articles and other things of interest to those who are in the Building Envelope community or interested in it so thank you everyone for listening to the Everything Building Envelope’s podcast.  This is Paul Beers saying so long ’til next time.


About GCI Consultants: GCI’s building envelope professionals provide consulting services to ensure clients receive maximum value and return on their investment in the firm’s services, which include:

  • Engineering Services
  • Design Assistance
  • Field Testing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Forensic Evaluations
  • Roofing and Waterproofing Consulting
  • Litigation and Claims Consulting
  • Façade Assessments
  • Catastrophic Damage Evaluations
  • Due Diligence Surveys



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Landmark Restorations – Frank Thomas and David Westbrook

Frank Thomas and David Westbrook – Landmark Restorations

  • About Landmark Restorations.
  • What sets Landmark Restorations apart from its competitors.
  • What drives most of your work—from a client standpoint?
  • What are the challenges in this business?
  • How has the market/clients changes over time?
  • What do you see as the future of Landmark Restorations?


Episode Notes

Paul Beers: Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Everything Building Envelope podcast. We’ve got a really interesting topic today with Frank Thomas and David Westbrook of Landmark Restorations Ltd. in Atlanta. Welcome guys. Thanks for coming on today.

Frank Thomas: Thank you, Paul.

David Westbrook: Thanks for having us.

Paul Beers: So, we met a couple months ago in Atlanta and we just sort of had a say hello sit down and fact build. I remember, Frank, you actually ran into one of my guys there in a coffee shop with his building envelope shirt on and that got the conversation going. It’s the power of marketing, right?

Frank Thomas: Yeah, it was quite a morning. I looked across and so I said I’ve got to talk to that guy, so it worked.

Paul Beers: And Paul Brody, he’s one of our principals. He runs, our Atlanta operation. So we sat down and the guys were telling me and showing me what you do with restoring facades and glazing systems and whatnot and I thought it was really cool and somebody said, you know you should get those guys on the podcast. I’m, really, really excited about it. I know it would be of big interest to the audience. It’s unique, it’s different, it’s innovative. So, I think that’ll be really, really good. So, to start out let’s talk about Landmark Restoration a little bit. Frank can you tell us about the business, what you guys do and how you operate and whatnot?

Frank Thomas: Thank you. We’re basically starting our 36th year. Like, November of this year we started the company. It’s hard to believe it’s 36 years and so my background really is in the high rise commercial waterproofing industry. I had the opportunity to work 5 years’ sort of like a summer internship with a company in New York, in the northeast and it was invaluable that experience, with that company, the company Landmark Restorations really evolved from the traditional waterproofing of the commercial building into the façade retrofit company we are today. Our goals have always been to create a high performance façade company and David Westbrook, when he joined us, I knew immediately that that piece of the envelope would increase tremendously, and David brings a lot of three-dimensional talent looking at windows and doors of facades, and his background as a preservationist, thus his master’s degree, really gives us the opportunity to sit down with an owner or an asset manager and help them develop again a façade program that we’re extremely proud of.

Paul Beers: Yeah and David you have a very interesting and appropriate background for this that I was really impressed with some of the stuff you’re doing. Why don’t you please tell our listeners just a little bit more about your background and how you got to the point where you’re working with Landmark Restorations now.

David Westbrook: Sure. Well I got a bachelor’s degree in English literature and went to a year of graduate school and then decided I wanted to take a different path and, at the time I had some good friends who had their own stone masonry and timber frame business, and so I got a crash course in stone masonry and timber framing, and you know, they really did it right. They were very proud of what they did and called themselves kind of an old world, you know, they looked back to Europe and those guys whose buildings were 600 years old or more over there, so they kind of really took a lot of pride in doing that stuff right. So, I learned a lot from them, and then from there I just did general carpentry and remodeling framing for about 6 years. They gave me kind of a crash course in general construction, kind of more on the residential side though, and then in 2007 I moved to Atlanta and got into the master’s program for historic preservation at Georgia State University, and through that program I got a job interestingly at a cemetery here in Atlanta. It’s the oldest cemetery in the city, and at the time it was recovering from a tornado that had hit, and it damaged a lot of the historical monuments and markers and things out there, and, so, they knew I had a background in masonry and repair, and so I kind of helped take and guide that restoration somewhat, and it was going to be just a temporary gig and it turned into a longer gig where they got a grant to restore. There was, like, 55 mausoleums or mausolea the plural of mausoleum in the cemetery, so, I had developed a scope of work for each one to figure out, you know, repointing stained glass window restoration. There were different types of stone, sandstone, limestone, granite that these things were made out of, all in different degrees of deterioration. So, we had to figure out what scope or how to best repair that, all keeping in the historic interior of secretary, the standards of preservation. So, we would have to take that scope of work that we developed for the City of Atlanta, to the Urban Design Commission who oversees the landmarks in the city and get it all approved, and then execute the work, and so after that was all done, I started sending out resumes and actually I sent out like three resumes at first and Landmark Restorations was one of the companies I sent my resume to, and Frank called me a couple days later and here we are.

Paul Beers: Yeah and you guys are working on some really some really interesting projects and you guys work in a very wide geographic area like the whole country isn’t that right?

Frank Thomas: We do provide nationwide contract service stuff as David mentioned we’ve got several projects on the west coast in San Francisco, LA, San Diego. We work with a large group in Seattle. We’re in New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Atlanta. In fact, we’re looking at projects as well in the Fort Lauderdale area right now. So, yeah, we do cover a large area. Our clients, of course, like everyone else, dictate a lot of where we go. We’re fortunate we have excellent crews. They’re our crews. We don’t subcontract our work. They’re our own people, and I think that makes a big difference as to why we have those capabilities to travel as well as we do or as extensively as we do.

Paul Beers: Yeah and what kind of client base do you have and what kind of folks are your typical clients?

Frank Thomas: It runs the gamut, really. I mean we have owners that we work directly through. We have real estate companies who own a lot of real estate and have a lot of buildings and then we also work with property managers, management companies of properties and we work for Reit, the groups that owns hotels all across the country. And then we’re doing small jobs like little house museum type things, you know, for little non-profit things. It just really runs the gamut.

Paul Beers: So, so in addition to actually doing the work, you guys actually design the solutions. Here’s what we need to do and here’s what we recommend and here’s how we’re gonna do it is that right?

Frank Thomas: That’s probably our strongest asset Paul. So I appreciate you bringing that up, and we literally, David and I can go in and sit down and whether it’s upgrading the existing façade, or creating a double skin with the new high performance windows and doors, you know, we actually can sit down and help with the budgeting. Probably one of the strongest things we do is help people create a budget or take an existing budget and value engineer the work required.

David Westbrook: Frank likes to say our job is to help our clients figure out the best way for them to spend their money and get the best bang for their buck, and that’s really when we’re doing our jobs, so we can help them do that. Yeah, because the budget obviously is always a very primary consideration. Here’s how much money we have. What can we do with it?

Frank Thomas:So, something to add to what David just said we also help people whether they’re buying or selling a property. Sort of a due diligence, you know, what are they getting involved in? What, what kind of numbers are they going to be required to do, because the banks and the lending institutions have really taken a stronger position, as you know, over the last probably 8 to 10 years, so that when a new acquisition occurs there’s typically as they call it, a tip list of things that the bank is gonna require the owners to perform and so we play an integral part.

David Westbrook: Yeah, that’s interesting when you bring that up. One of our GCI Consultants projects right now is a 10-million-dollar façade restoration on a major resort property in South Florida, you know, stuccos, granite, leaks and things like that. The property was sold and it was conditioned by the lender, who was basically funding the acquisition, that the façade had to be repaired and it needed it too.

Paul Beers: Yeah, when we were talking just before we started the podcast, you were telling me that you guys have different levels of services that you provide on projects, and other, Level 3, Level 2, Level 1. Could you talk about that a little bit more? That was interesting also.

Frank Thomas: Yeah, David developed a means and method of strengthening an existing sliding glass door frame, which in the hotel industry really is, you’re talking about running the gamut, they run from one end of the spectrum to the other. The biggest issue is the wind pressure on doors, and so David developed a method of strengthening the existing frame, and so when you talk about Level 1, that’s the Minneapolis project. New rollers, track guides, locking systems, strengthen up the frame. Clean up, a general tune-up, we call it, the existing glass stays in place, but higher comfort levels for the hotel and the guest inside, and when we talk about the Embassy at LAX again, David and a gentleman that is really our, kind of field supervisor, Randall Alterano developed a method of taping the existing doorframes, where we can take the existing glass out. In this case, it was quarter-inch standard float glass, and we installed high-performance, low-e and soundproofing. The hotel is directly across the street from the LAX airport, or in this case, the jumbo jets and the cargos take off. That was a complete façade retrofit program. The doors were all field-grade finished, by the way a new color. The condensation, we had to take into account, we had our engineers in Seattle develop a low-e factor so that the condensation was significantly reduced or, in some cases, it doesn’t exist at all. The Burlingame Embassy in California is a new door system. Without taking out the existing frame, cap, we were putting in new doors, new triple-locking system, very high performance low-e, and high performance enhanced sound control blast into the opening. All field refinished, clear coat over the coating itself, the existing paint that we were putting on – not existing, but the new paint, and the owners are in love with it. It’s a Hilton property as well, so, we’re getting a lot of exposure on a corporate basis. I can tell you that all rooms on every level are put back into service the day that we finish, so there was no interior work whatsoever.

Paul Beers: I know the hotel guys love that. It minimizes the disturbances to the guests.

Frank Thomas: It makes a big difference. David works very closely on the scheduling. There’s a, rotation that is extremely critical. There’s a lot of cooperation on everyone’s part and David develops the schedule. You may want to chat about that for a quick second. I think that sometimes we forget about communication efforts and we focus just on the, kind of, the nuts and bolts, but the communication that David creates with these schedules, I’d like him to just chat about that for a second.

David Westbrook: Sure. Obviously the hotels want the rooms back in service as quickly as possible, so we work with them at the front end and say, you know, look, depending on the time of year, how busy the hotel is, how many blackout dates they have where they’re gonna be sold out completely and in some cases work has to stop on some projects and so based on their feedback, then we can develop, and then know how many rooms they can give us at a time. That factors into it as well. Then we figure out, okay, what we can do, based on this amount of rooms, we can get this many done, say, in 3 days or 4 days or 5 days, and then we set up a rotation where we give them completed rooms at the end of a day, inspected by, you know, the engineers of the buildings. They sign off on it and it goes back into service, and then they give us a new set of rooms that are out of service for the night, you know, that night, so we can get in first thing in the morning and start working again, and we thought all this out on just a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and everyone has a copy of it. Randall, the guy who’s the field supervisor that Frank was telling you about earlier, he meets every day with the managers sometimes, and then definitely the engineers for the property, and, you know they, just so everybody knows what rooms are being worked on and see if there’s any issues that we need to address, just so everyone is aware and you know, like Frank says, communication. That’s what’s going on.

Paul Beers: By the way, one of the aspects, what I want to touch on or refer to really quick, and then I want to move along is that these are all custom. This is not a one size fits all. Every one of these projects is custom made, from that door opening, from the glass to the aluminum coating finishes, locking systems, adjustments, because we look at a long-term basis for the operations and maintenance going forward, so we remain in place with the hotel, in this case as they go down the road a few years for adjustments and again, whatever is gonna affect operations and maintenance, we’re gonna be involved as well down the road.

David Westbrook: So David you showed me when I was in your office a few months ago some of your techniques used at the suites at LAX, there was a couple of things that Frank already mentioned which is you actually took out the monolithic glass and replaced it with a thicker piece of glass, and also talked about field refinishing. That’s not easy to do. I mean, it, especially with the varying thicknesses of glass. I thought maybe we would do a deep dive into it and describe some of the things that you did on that project and how you did it, and it was really pretty impressive, I thought.

David Westbrook: Sure, like Frank said each project is different. It depends on what you’re dealing with that’s in place first and foremost, and then determining, all right, we can make this work here or maybe it won’t work, but, for that particular project, the doorframes, they were solid. I mean, they were high pretty thick gauged aluminum and the frame itself was wide enough to receive a thicker piece of glass, so we just opened it up a little bit, and we put, like, a 7/8ths inch thick ICU in there, and then, of course, we put in heavier gauge rollers to support that weight and that’s it, really. I mean, it takes some work in the field to do it. We’re lucky that we have great crews, and they are very attention to detail oriented and they know how to execute it, once we give them a scope of work and what we want done, but that’s basically it, you know? We just figure out what are the parameters here, and then determine the sizes of glass, the gauges of aluminum, and then what works and then, in terms of field refinishing, I mean, you know, I don’t know, I’m not a painter, but, you know, our guys are just, I mean, it really comes down to the materials, to be honest. The prep work and the materials we use when it comes down to painting. I mean, we clean it. We scour it a little bit to rough up the surface, make sure you get a good bond with your primer, and then it’s just the guy’s spraying. He does it, puts a good finish on it, and good technique then he masks everything off, of course, to protect the room so there’s no overspray getting on anything.

Frank Thomas: Paul another thing is –

Frank Thomas: David has done some research. Infrared heat lamps that you probably see in automotive shops. They’re brought in because, again, we’re dealing with the elements. We set up trailers that are conditioned for parts to field refinish, so, we take aluminum paint, or paint ****, while we may not be the painters, we have a great crew. Their techniques, they are constantly honing them, and we’re always on the outlook for a different piece that can, you know, help them in the field.

Paul Beers: So, on this particular job, you start out with some, I’m gonna say it’s older sliding glass doors. They’ve been in place for quite a while.

David Westbrook: Over 30 years.

Paul Beers: Yeah, 30-year-old doors, and then the end result was that they, basically, without creating all the dust and the dirt of ripping everything up and replacing it and expense too, in fact that’s another interesting point which I’d like you to talk about, but you started out with a 30 year-old door, and when you finished work it had new high-performance glass. It had a new paint finish. It had new hardware, so basically, taking the skeleton and then making a new door out of it. Did I say that well, or –

Frank Thomas: Yes.

Frank Thomas: I mean it’s basically a brand new door, and performs 100 percent better, not only just from an energy standpoint, but sound was a big issue on this project, so, we went down from, well, 80-something decibels in the room with jets down to the mid-30s. I mean it’s incredible, really the transformation.

Paul Beers: How is the hotel getting their return on this investment? I mean have they actually monetized and looked at the money that they spent on the investment side.

Frank Thomas: It’s an interesting point you just brought up. We were in a meeting, I was in a meeting at San Francisco at an Embassy where we performed the same task at LAX, and Hilton came back to the hotel and said that they were going to get an energy award and that they had reduced their energy consumption by 40 percent.

Paul Beers: Wow.

Frank Thomas: So, while we do this on the front end sometimes, we’ll do the energy, look at the building and provide comparative numbers, you know, what does this low-e mean at different levels. I can tell you that we just finished a test project at one hotel and we took and changed the temperature coming through float glass, where it was 103 degrees, and when we installed the new window system, David designed the interior temperature level at 76 coming through the glass. So, it’s things like that, and I mean, that’s what a lot of our testing does. We actually put samples in. The Morgans hotel is a great example, 5 years ago. We put in a variety of different scenarios. When we finally arrived on the one that worked both for decibel levels, those were in the high 80s. Madison Avenue where the temperature in the rooms that you could not maintain the P-TAC system continually ran both in the summer and winter, and that all changed. So, owners are coming back to us and in this case, the most recent meeting I did was at the Embassy South Sand and Hilton was giving them an award for a 40 percent decrease in energy consumption.

David Westbrook: Now, with the Morgans project, that was one of the ones that we looked at when I was at your place a few months back, and the increased guest comfort, I guess I’ll call it. You know? Not so hot in the room and quieter. Have you heard any feedback on whether they can help them with their room rates or their occupancy or anything like that?

Frank Thomas: Well, and another good point. They actually, let’s talk about the front end, before the glass got changed, or before the system was installed. They were giving away, because of room complaints, a significant amount of money, some 40 to $50,000.00 a month. You know, when you start multiplying that over several years, then it becomes a big number and it sort of gets to the point where, “Let’s do something.” The noisiest part of the Morgans Hotel right now is the fan motors in the P-TAC system. Comfort level has increased significantly. The Vice President and another officer stayed in two rooms that we had done as test units. It was 9 degrees outside. Again, Madison Avenue, and, in fact, it was around Christmastime, so it was very busy. I basically took them to dinner, but before we went to dinner, I said, “Tell me what you want your temperature you want to see to maintain in the room,” and they were both around 72 degrees. We came back from dinner. I shut the system off. They had reached 72. That morning, one room lost 3 degrees and the other one lost 4 degrees, and we really attribute that mostly to the hallway door. So, those are the kinds of tests that we enjoy getting involved in. We are, you know where officers or owners get into the rooms, they can hear, because you can promise all the decibel levels you want or the amount of energy savings. You know, if a guest inside their room isn’t happy, you know and handing them a piece of paper and telling them, “Well, we reduced it by 40 decibels,” doesn’t really mean much.

Paul Beers: So, and I agree with it, that you’re a big proponent of in-place performance mock-ups where you ultimately do the work?

Frank Thomas: Yeah, absolutely.

David Westbrook: That’s our largest selling point by far. I mean, the mock ups, just, speaks for itself, and, like, Frank says, the key principles, come, look at it, see what they’re buying, and see the performance right before their eyes. So, I mean, that is a huge selling point for us.

Paul Beers: And, so, at this Morgans Hotel, David, what did you do to get this dramatic improvement and performance? Because you didn’t remove the existing windows, is that correct?

David Westbrook: That’s correct.

David Westbrook: Basically, like Frank says, we asked a group in Seattle to help us with the sound control glass, and we gave them the parameters. We said, “Look, we would like, what can you make, glass wise and here’s the opening size. Here’s the depth of the pocket we have to work with, and what can you build for us that performs best from a soundproofing standpoint?” And, so, they get to work and then they say, you know, “This is what we think we can get for you,” and then we say, “Great,” and we place the order, install it, and that’s it. I mean, we talk a lot, though, besides just what can you build? I mean, what other, can we install, you know, a secondary piece of glass that’s maybe not, you know, 1-inch think insulated unit. Maybe it’s just a ¼-inch laminated, or 3/8ths laminated piece or something like that. And so, we just have a conversation, and then we install it, and it’s usually just, once and it’s in place, I mean, you just get the results, and it really works, and those guys are great and they know what they’re doing. They help us a lot, and then, also, this particular job, it wasn’t just the windows. It was the P-TAC unit Frank mentioned. I mean, they were wall units, so, a lot of sound came through that, and so we took it out, insulated the cabinet of the P TAC itself, filled in holes that were through the floor, gaps between the exterior louvers and frame of the P-TAC unit, but all that lets all that sound and air and everything else in, and so that helps as well, besides the glass. So, you know, we looked at everything that’s going on in the room, and from the exterior wall, at least, and try to come up with solutions. So, for the Morgans, just, addressing the P-TAC and then also putting in not only an insulated glass unit, but backing up and we put in a secondary piece as well.

Paul Beers: So, what’s the market like these days in your business? Are, you know, I know you’re in the construction world and things are going well. They have been going well for a while, which, I mean, at some point they might start to slow down, but in the restoration side of things, what are the trends that you’re seeing right now?

Frank Thomas: The trend is really on the façade, the total façade, retrofit, as we talked about from top to bottom. We’re seeing more redevelopment, and that’s not so much restoration, but the redevelopment of existing warehouses, midrise, conversions. Some are healthcare Reits, quite a few hotel acquisition and it is unprecedented right now. So, when we look at that façade, that’s where we’re seeing tremendous amount of money being spent to not just, from an appearance or aesthetic standpoint, but how do they really change the concept or the look of a building. You got to retain some of the character, and in some cases the terra cotta the envelope itself, and we see that aspect of the business, actually increasing, and in some cases, we can’t get to these projects. There’s that much involved.

David Westbrook: Well at least here in Atlanta, right now, there’s a lot of old existing, like, turn-of-the-century warehouse-style buildings are being repurposed. Which is great and they’re not tearing them all down. So, we get a lot of calls on those types of projects, where they have these old steel-framed windows. You know? What do they want to do with them if they want to keep them? Old wood windows where they don’t want to rip them out, so how do they go about refurbishing those. There’s a good project on our web site under project gallery, called 84 Walton Street, 75 Marietta Street. It’s an old, 1906 vintage building. We did a whole restoration of the façade on that building and it was just old double-hung wood windows, we repainted them, installed an interior storm window, refinished terra cotta, **** brick, a little bit of everything going on, but it was an historic building. But we are seeing a lot of that as well, I guess, the redevelopment of older buildings, which is good.

Paul Beers: So, your web, you mentioned your web site. The web address for that, I’m looking at it right now is www.landmarkrestorations, with an S on the end of it, all one word, dot come, and it’s got, some of these projects we talked about and some other ones, and some really interesting stuff. So, what do you guys see as the future from here? Where do you go from here?

Frank Thomas: Well, we’ve made initial contact last year David and I actually a year and a half ago at the Glass show here in Atlanta, and the security screen railings, wire mesh, perforated mesh aspect of that portion of the business, we think, has a lot of potential. Existing parking garages, the openings, are being, from a security standpoint, looked at for the wire mesh, and it involves aluminum and, it’s different types of perforated and wire mesh installed. It increases the awareness of the garage, the appearance, without spending a lot of money and it also increases the security aspects of it. One of the projects in San Francisco during the door retrofit program, the fourth floor was a plaza area, pool with outdoor activities, and if somebody wanted a sliding glass door to be open, then they were vulnerable to somebody just walking in on them. The new system that we installed has a stainless steel security mesh screen door that you could open the operating section. You can keep that closed. You can still get daylight, airflow through, and that aspect of the business is another piece, again, when we talk about high-performance façades, that’s becoming an integral piece of our business.

Paul Beers: I’ve never heard of that application before, you know, screens are basically, in my world, I’ve always known of them as insect screens, so it keeps the bugs out, but not much else in or out. You know, there’s even issues sometimes with people falling out of buildings through the screens and whatnot, and, it’s pretty interesting to me that there’s actually a, I guess you’d call it a structural application with the stainless steel wire mesh that can prevent people from coming in or going out for that matter?

Frank Thomas: Paul, it’s a good looking piece as well, but I can tell you that you can take a baseball bat. You can’t cut it. If you did cut it, you can’t rip it out. It’s literally locked into the frame. It’s not a bolt gasket, and so, you know, high schools, university systems, as I mentioned, the parking garages, hospitals where aesthetics are important, and we can provide now a custom-built frame with the stainless steel mesh. They can be fixed. They can be operating. They’ll look good, and they’ll stop and allow all the functions of the window or the door needs to perform, and yet they’ll provide the security while they’re aesthetically look like they belong on the property.

Paul Beers: Yeah, so that does sound like a really good growth opportunity.

Frank Thomas: It fits the façade program that we’re developing, or we’re continuing to develop.

Paul Beers: It gives a whole ‘nother benefit that really, so many people don’t even know it’s available. So guys, that’s really interesting. Like I said, I was fascinated when I came and met with you a couple months ago, and impressed and that is why this podcast got organized for this podcast recording, so, thank you very much for, for coming on.

Frank Thomas: Thank you for the opportunity, Paul.

David Westbrook: Yeah, thank you very much.

Paul Beers: Yeah, I look forward to staying in touch and, and keeping up with what you’re doing because it really is interesting, and we know that our listeners are gonna be interested as well, and I’ll encourage them again to just check out your web site, and again, that’s landmarkrestorations.com, and they’re in Atlanta, not to be confused with the other companies with similar names in other cities. So, again, guys, thanks so much, and with that, thank you everybody for listening to another episode of Everything Building Envelope podcast. We have an Everything Building Envelope newsletter. If you’d like to receive that, please text the word buildingenvelope. It’s all one word, buildingenvelope to 228-28. Again, text the word buildingenvelope to 228-28 to sign up for the Everything Building Envelope e-newsletter. It has some technical articles and other things of interest, so I think our listeners will enjoy that, and with that, this is Paul Beers saying, thank you for listening and so long.

Industrial and Custom Structural Skylights – Paul Simony

Industrial and Custom Structural Skylights – Paul Simony – SKYCO Skylight

  • Why are skylights a must have for large buildings?
  • What kind of skylights are available?
  • How has the industrial skylight evolved over the years?
  • ICC-ES Listings and why they are important
  • Photovoltaic, BIPV Systems

Skylights and similar products.

Expert: Paul Simony, 30 Years Experience, sits on several boards,

Company: SKYCO Skylights

SKYCO Skylights is an industry leading industrial and custom structural skylight manufacturer located in Costa Mesa, CA. SKYCO Skylights has a full range of products including Industrial Skylights, UL Listed Smoke Vents, Custom Structural Skylights, Photovoltaic Skylights and Canopies and rooftop safety and security products. All of SKYCO Skylights product come with a 10 year warranty. For additional information, you may reach SKYCO Skylights at 949 629-4090 or email SKYCO Skylights at info@skycoskylights.com


  1. Why are skylights a must have for large buildings?
    1. Energy savings with natural daylighting
    2. Reducing the carbon imprint
    3. Codes require a certain amount of daylighting
    4. ASHRAE recommends the use of natural daylighting
    5. Enable Architects to achieve LEED Credits


  1. What kind of skylights are available?
    1. Residential
      1. Fixed
      2. Operable
      3. Elaborate custom designs
      4. High performance glazing options available
      5. Various models to meet International Building Code (IBC) requirements
    2. Commercial/Industrial
      1. 4×8 Unit Skylights
      2. UL Smoke Vents with Polycarbonate dome for natural daylighting
      3. Louvered bases for air circulation
    3. Custom
      1. Gable Ridges, Polygons, Flatglass, etc…
    4. Photovoltaic
      1. Skylights and Canopies
        1. Building applied photovoltaics
    5. Safety/Security Products
      1. Fall-protection systems
      2. Security/Burglar Bars


    1. How has the industrial skylight evolved over the years?
      1. Louvered bases for building breathing
        1. Purpose
          1. Lowers moisture
          2. Provides fresher air
          3. Allows the roof structure to be ventilated reducing degradation from humidity
        2. Issue with old systems
          1. The old systems were prone to leaking
          2. Poor sealant compatibility
          3. Not subjected to National Standards for performance
        3. New designs
          1. I.E. The VORTEX
          2. Leakfree
          3. Birdscreen
          4. Optional insect and dust filters
      2. Polycarbonate domes
        1. Purpose
          1. Stronger
          2. Last longer against yellowing
          3. Code compliant – Meet OSHA Fall-protection
          4. More versatility for solar heat gains, light transmittance
        2. Issues with old systems
          1. Acrylic – not impact resistant
          2. Prone to cracking, brittle
          3. Varying thicknesses required to meet loading requirements per Code
        3. New designs
          1. SKYWAVE design adds more light transmittance – features 30% more light-collecting surface area
      3. Capped vs. Cappless
        1. Purpose for capped
          1. Stronger
          2. Cracking of domes eliminated as there is not penetration through the dome
          3. Air and water infiltration – High performance
          4. ICC-ES Listed (Meets AC16 Standard)
        2. Issues with Capless
          1. Screw penetrates dome causing cracks
          2. Prone to leaking – no seal between dome and frame
          3. Air and water infiltration – will not pass
          4. NOT ICC-ES LISTED! Or tested to AC16


    1. Can you elaborate on ICC-ES Listings and why they are important?
      1. Recognized by building code officials as the “Gold Standard”
        1. Elaborate on what it is
        2. A way to ensure the products being put on a roof are safe
        3. Quality control requirements per AC10
      2. Requirements for ICC-ES Listing
        1. Capped
        2. Fire Testing
        3. High performance Air Infiltration and Water penetration requirements
        4. Structural testing for positive and negative pressure – Translates to stronger and safer skylights
      3. Some manufacturers are quoting and supplying roofers with non-ICC-ES listed skylights and letting the contractor and building owner believe they are covered
        1. This is a huge liability
          1. Will not actually meet the code requirements – may subject the GC or Owner to replacement costs to meet code compliance
          2. People fall though – Not tested to OSHA fall-protection requirements
        2. Bait & Switch tactic – It is done because a manufacturer wants to offer a skylight at a specific price point so they offer a non listed and let people assume it is
        3. If there isn’t an ICC # it is not listed and the Architect/owner/contractor is liable
          1. SKYCO’s ICC# ESR-3837
        4. To be clear there are no capless industrial skylights available with ICC #’s.
          1. Contractors need to know if they get capless they are not getting what they paid for.


  1. The Photovoltaic, BIPV systems seems really interesting, can you elaborate on those?
    1. Difference between BIPV and BAPV
    2. Benefits of BIPV
      1. Federal Tax credit (30% extended to 2012)
      2. Energy savings and reduced carbon imprint
      3. Building value increase – free power for tenants
    3. Fun Projects where people have benefited
      1. Apple
      2. Tiburon
      3. Novartis
    4. What are the possibilities?
      1. Large skylights can be changed in BIPV by switching glass and adding the solar integration components
      2. Up to 40% Light transparency with Energy generating efficient glass
      3. Many Cities and States are adopting a 50% requirement for sustainable energy in new construction – this appears to be an expanding trend

Jon Kimberlain – Silicone Sealants for Weatherproofing and Glazing

Jon Kimberlain – Silicone Sealants for Weatherproofing and Glazing

  • Give a brief history of silicone sealants used in both weatherproofing and structural glazing applications.
  • What is the benefit of using silicone sealants in those types of applications?
  • How long do these materials last (sustainability) in those applications?
  • What are the upcoming innovations using silicone based materials?

Omar Sheikh – The AEC Industry and Bluebeam Revu

Omar Sheikh – The AEC Industry and Bluebeam Revu


  • What is Bluebeam Revu and what can it do?
  • How has the AEC industry adopted technology like Bluebeam Revu?
  • What challenges has the AEC industry faced in terms of technology adoption?
  • How do you see technology influencing the industry today and in the future?
  • How has the GCI team adopted Revu and continued to evolve its use?

Tim Salerno – Prefabricated Exterior Wall Panels

Tim Salerno – Prefabricated Exterior Wall Panels


  • What’s taking place in the current construction market place that is helping drive the prefab business?
  • What are some concerns & solutions of prefab? Ex, panel to panel joints, etc.
  • What type of cladding options are available for owners & design professionals to choose from, for claddings that can be prefabricated in a climate controlled facility?
  • Does prefab walls for the exterior envelope offer the ability to meet code requirements for air barriers, c.i., and in the case of Florida or other high velocity wind zones, hurricane impact requirements?

The Architects Newspaper

Diana Darling – The Architects Newspaper

Click here to download the episode notes.

Field Water Infiltration Testing

Paul Beers: Field Water Infiltration Testing

EVE Episode 7

  • How to use field testing for:
    • New Construction
    • Forensic Investigation
  • ASTM Standards
  • AAMA Standard
  • Improper testing and how it affects litigation cases