On June 14, Tampere, Finland, once again became the center of the global glass industry, discussing innovations and new trends during the opening of the Glass Performance Days (GPD) 2023 conference. The Opening Ceremony with a total of 550 participants from 40 countries took place in the brand-new Nokia Arena, right in the heart of the city. Provocative keynote presentations, Finnish music, magic and illusions broke the ice and created a spellbinding start to a great event.
Alf Rehn, Professor of Innovation, Design & Management at the University of Southern Denmark, moderated the opening ceremony. He started the evening by sharing his understanding of what growth means.
“Listen to those who ask the uncomfortable questions, who dare to challenge you. Those are the people who push you to grow – not quantitatively, but qualitatively,” he continued.
So, what kind of growth does the glass industry want? Other speakers joined in to share their ideas.
She mentioned how the reuse of the iconic Battersea Power Station building brought the whole neighborhood back together and gave it once again the energy it used to give out.
“As a sustainable material, glass plays a crucial role in supporting the transformation of older buildings. We will always need glass because we need a view and air,” she said.
Christoph Timm, Principal, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), revisited his Architects’ Dream List at GPD 10 years ago to see the industry’s growth in these areas. He pointed out that certain accomplishments had been made, but some areas have not yet been realized.
When it comes to the building’s life cycle, there is still a long way to go. He said: “We tend to look at the upfront embodied carbon and the end-of-life embodied carbon, whereas it is the operational carbon that matters most.”
Christoph shared the results of his firm’s analysis of glass facades in the Los Angeles region. The finding revealed that the simple all-glass facades outperformed others in terms of cost, carbon footprint and daylighting.
According to Christoph, cities are not good for the environment. “But how can we reduce the whole carbon use and maximize carbon absorption, extending the life of buildings?” he asked. By making buildings living organisms. What if our cities become trees and forests? That’s how SOM’s Urban Sequoia concept came about – an innovative approach featuring smart enclosures with solar PV panels on the roof and energy-generating facades.
“’Glass is the hidden gem in a carbon-neutral future,’ is the title of a recent Nature magazine article. I totally agree,” he said.
“We in the glass industry are part of the solution. Today, we already have low-carbon glass. The question is, how do we go further? We have to be patient. There are still many difficulties to overcome. First, we don’t have enough zero-carbon energy to produce zero-carbon glass,” he said.
“Plus, we should not only focus on energy but also on light, acoustic and comfort,” he continued. “After all, light and transparency is why we install glass in buildings. The megatrends are showing us the way to grow. But humans have to remain in the center. So let us cherish the light. And the main success factor to overcome the challenges at hand is the cooperation across the sector.”
“Today, it’s time to act. It’s our sector’s ‘man on the moon’ moment,” Bertrand concludes.
Alf Rehn emphasized that sustainability is the only path – even if it slows down innovations by doing less.
At the end of the Opening Ceremony, Francis Serruys from Saint-Gobain BU Glass Facades received the Jorma Vitkala Award of Merit 2023. His contributions to the glass industry over his long-standing career of over 30 years represent a living testimony of the values of GPD.
Glaston in brief
Glaston is the glass processing industry’s innovative technology leader supplying equipment, services and solutions to the architectural, automotive, solar and display industries. The company also supports the development of new technologies integrating intelligence to glass.
Glaston is committed to providing its clients with both the best know-how and the latest technologies in glass processing, with the purpose of building a better tomorrow through safer, smarter, and more energy efficient glass solutions. Glaston operates globally with manufacturing, services and sales offices in nine countries and its shares (GLA1V) are listed on NASDAQ Helsinki Ltd. For more information visit glaston.net.