December 19, 2023
How time flies! In 2023, we celebrated our first full decade of production, marking GlasCurtain’s 10th Anniversary — and we’ve packed a lot into that time!
This year in particular was a perfect embodiment of our success to-date in sustainable construction, as well as our bold next steps into new market segments, including our very first healthcare project, new installation partners in the US, and continued expansion of our Thermaframe product line — just a prelude to the many exciting new developments that 2024 holds. We also enhanced our community outreach, sharing insights and inspiring stories through our increasingly popular podcast series and engaging social media platforms.
As we close the “curtains” on 2023, let’s reflect on the milestones we achieved at GlasCurtain and tease a few noteworthy prospects awaiting us in 2024:
GlasCurtain continued to thrive in the bustling Ontario market, building upon our success at Carleton University with several notable projects around Ottawa! With the help of architecture firm Arcadis IBI Group, National Capital Commission is transforming Westboro Beach (seen above) along the Ottawa River into a dynamic and lively area for both residents and visitors, including the construction of a new year-round pavilion. This zero-carbon structure is using Thermaframe 7 and will offer several community spaces, a restaurant, and public restrooms!
The Enbridge Ottawa Net-Zero Operations Centre is making quick progress! WalterFedy designed this project as a prominent sustainability showcase for Enbridge, one of Canada’s foremost energy companies. Aligning with Enbridge’s broader strategy to modernize its office network across Ontario, the aim is to attract and retain top talent in a fiercely competitive labor market. Innovative features like the mass timber structure and our advanced fibreglass-framed curtain walls distinguish this project, promising increased productivity and heightened service quality for clients, end-users, and stakeholders.
It’s often a delightful twist of irony that affordable multi-family housing projects are among those specifying the best building materials, largely because these projects understand the true cost-benefit analysis involved in owner-occupied construction, especially when it comes to long-term durability and sustainability. While some may assume that “affordability” equates to cutting corners, many affordable housing initiatives are well aware that investing in high-quality building materials not only ensures longevity but also leads to substantial savings in maintenance and replacement costs over time. This perspective aligns perfectly with projects like Ottawa Community Housing – Mikinak, also designed by Arcadis IBI Group, which features Thermaframe 7 on the lower floors of three mid-rise multi-family buildings. Overall, this project exemplifies the client’s commitment to high-quality community buildings and reflects the growing emphasis on addressing embodied carbon in our nation’s capital.
In Yukon Territory, we’ve secured our first healthcare project! The new Mental Health Unit at Whitehorse General Hospital, designed by Northern Front Studio and Thinkspace Architecture, is set to become the highest thermally performing healthcare building in the Canadian Territories. Featuring Thermaframe 7, along with Vision Control® insulated glass and integrated blind units, this cutting-edge system will dramatically reduce maintenance requirements, minimize condensation risk, and extend the building envelope’s lifespan — all of which are critical to the long-term success of a facility contending with extreme temperatures as low as -55ºC (-67ºF)! On the patient experience side, the incorporation of generous natural light and outdoor views will have a very positive impact on mental health, which is undeniably valuable given the specialized nature of this healthcare environment. We’re currently in fabrication for this project and looking forward to commencing the curtain wall installation in early 2024, with the project set for occupancy in 2025!
In British Columbia, the Fort St. John RCMP Detachment is occupied! This beautiful new federal government building, designed by KMBR Architects in Vancouver, replaced an aging and outdated facility, but what truly sets the new building apart is its pioneering approach – it’s among the first institutional buildings in BC to target Net-Zero Energy (NZE) status. To achieve this ambitious goal, innovative building systems were carefully selected, including GlasCurtain’s Thermaframe 7, which plays a crucial role in reducing HVAC loads, extending the lifespan of ‘active’ building systems, and enhancing thermal comfort!
In Alberta, GlasCurtain’s scope of work (our biggest yet at over 22,000 sq-ft of glazing!) for the new Red Deer Justice Centre is complete. A collaborative effort involving Group2 and DLR Group for Alberta Infrastructure, the project features our advanced Thermaframe 7 system, which is integral to the building’s striking 8-storey facade, enhancing thermal comfort, reducing long-term operational costs, boosting resilience, and demonstrating climate leadership for the provincial government. As the tallest building in the city, the sprawling 313,200 square foot facility is a versatile and striking addition to the community. The building is expected to be occupied in early 2024, so stay tuned for more updates and photos!
The New Academic Building (NAB), at Concordia University of Edmonton (CUE), designed by Reimagine Architects, is making significant progress! This project is a special one for us as it’s the first to incorporate our Thermaframe 8 system using Vacuum Insulated Glass (VIG) technology, an innovation that enhances thermal efficiency by an incredible 50% compared to traditional triple-glazing. With support from the Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association (SSRIA), the New Academic Building is on its way to becoming a landmark in sustainable post-secondary buildings and a model for future educational facilities across North America!
The grand opening of Onchaminahos Saddle Lake Elementary School at Saddle Lake Cree Nation was a heartwarming celebration of community spirit. Designed with meticulous care by Reimagine Architects, the primary design objective was to align the new elementary school as closely as possible with Net-Zero standards; Thermaframe 7 certainly played a pivotal role in achieving this goal, not only enhancing energy efficiency but also allowing the rich essence and teachings of the land to permeate and illuminate the learning spaces!
(Fun fact: A robust building envelope, such as the one at Saddle Lake Elementary, allows for reduced HVAC systems, which not only lowers operational and maintenance costs but also enhances the resilience of the building for future generations!)
INVENTURE$ Panel with Melanie Ross (left), Tiffany Shaw (left-centre),
Peter Dushenski (right-centre), and Vivian Manasc (right)
June was a busy month for conferences! GlasCurtain Managing Director, Peter Dushenski, was invited to a panel discussion at INVENTURE$ Canada Conference in Calgary, AB, where he was joined by industry experts Melanie Ross (SAIT), Tiffany Shaw (Reimagine Gathering), and Vivian Manasc (Reimagine Architects). Their insightful discussion explored the captivating interplay between Indigenous practices and the utilization of sustainable building materials, marking an important step toward forging a more sustainable and harmonious future for the built environment.
Peter and Sean then exhibited at the Canadian Healthcare Engineering Society (CHES) Provincial Chapter Conference in Red Deer, AB. We reconnected with folks we met at the IFHE/CHES National Chapter Conference in Toronto back in September 2022, which helped us gain even more insight into what “pain points” healthcare professionals are currently contending with; of course, we definitely took the chance to showcase the potential of GlasCurtain and fibreglass-framed curtain wall framing to address these concerns, and promote our blog post post on the topic of reducing condensation in Healthcare with fibreglass framing!
Soon after we joined the Alberta Energy Efficiency + Innovation Summit in Edmonton, AB, hosted by SSRIA. The event was full of lively discussions, providing a great platform to engage with all the enthusiastic attendees from Alberta, and the perfect opportunity to showcase our global leadership in energy efficiency!
Your Future in a City of Climate Champions Panel with Mayor Amarjeet Sohi (left), Peter Dushenski (left-centre), Emily Devereux (right-centre), and Laura Jo Gunter (right)
In September, Peter participated as a panelist at the “Your Future in a City of Climate Champions” event. Organized by the Office of the Mayor of Edmonton and hosted at NAIT, the event brought together influential voices including Edmonton’s Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, NAIT’s President & CEO Laura Jo Gunter, and Emily Devereux from NAIT’s Clean Technologies Team. Peter’s valuable contribution to the panel discussion centred on advocating for practical and effective approaches to implementing climate-friendly practices in Alberta’s key sectors!
Also in September, we were thrilled to make our eagerly awaited comeback to the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, DC, a significant milestone as it marked ten years since our last attendance. As the biggest sustainability event in North America, Greenbuild is more than just a professional gathering; it’s an incredible opportunity to connect with professionals from diverse industries and spark enriching discussions about advancing building sustainability and performance. Being part of such a dynamic exchange of ideas was truly inspiring for GlasCurtain! It also provided us with a valuable look into the US market, aligning fantastically with our strategic plans to expand our marketing reach into that area in 2024!
Our conference schedule for the year culminated with a visit to Florida for the ProConnect Sustainability Conference. Here, we had insightful one-on-one meetings with some of North America’s top architecture and construction firms, delving into the latest sustainable material trends and innovative solutions for building design and construction. These interactions were not only inspiring but also a treasure trove of fresh perspectives and innovative ideas!
Now that GlasCurtain has achieved success in passing the NFPA-285 Flame Spread Test, we’re ready to take on our first project in the US. This exciting development prompted us to travel more this year to our southern neighbours, and Massachusetts, with its significant healthcare and post-secondary sectors, as well as its new Stretch Energy Code, emerged as an ideal market. Here, we can effectively utilize our high-performance fibreglass-framed curtain wall systems to meet the demands of the market in a way no one else can!
Over the past year, we’ve connected face-to-face with more architects, engineers, and contractors than ever before, providing a level of engagement that virtual platforms just can’t fully replicate. Although, we can’t deny the convenience of video calls, particularly for coordinating meetings with firms spread across multiple offices nationwide; we’ve struck a balance by conducting almost 20 in-person and virtual Lunch & Learns as well as countless more video call introductions and design-assist meetings. We look forward to connecting with even more professionals in 2024!
Building on the success of our first five episodes, we’ve expanded our Curtain Wall Conversations series with three more compelling episodes, featuring in-depth conversations between Peter and distinguished industry experts to explore new ideas of what’s possible with glazed facades! Each episode continues to be a unique platform for exploring the cutting-edge ideas shaping glazed facades, reinforcing our commitment to innovation and thought leadership in the industry. Check out 2023’s fantastic episodes:
Episode 6: Al Jaugelis (Fenestration Canada)
Episode 7: Tony Crimi (Past Chair of NBC Committee on Fire Protection)
Episode 8: James Satterwhite (Advanced Glazings Ltd.)
Also on our YouTube channel, we featured two in-depth videos about the new Engineering Design Centre (EDC) at Carleton University. Both videos showcase our first project in Ottawa in unique ways:
Video 1: Behind-The-Curtain w/ Diamond Schmitt, offers an exclusive design tour led by project architect Arne Suraga of Diamond Schmitt Architects (DSAI), highlighting the challenges and creative solutions during the design process, much of which took place during the pandemic
Video 2: New Project Showcase: Carleton University, features interviews with Mat (Flynn Canada), Brodie and Dre (Carleton), Arne (DSAI), and Peter (GlasCurtain), highlighting the bird-friendly glass installed on our Thermaframe 7 system, as well as the performance metrics used to inform the client’s product decisions
Other Exciting News
With Ottawa emerging as our fastest-growing market, the need for a dedicated marketing trip was crucial. Our visit included the previously mentioned tour of Carleton University, which not only underlined Ottawa’s significance but also enriched our YouTube channel with valuable content! Additionally, our Ottawa presence was strengthened through productive meetings with local partners and architects, delivering product samples, and a visit to the Enbridge Ottawa site, where curtain wall installation had just begun.
We also reached the semi-finals of the Swissbau Startup Challenge, and let us tell you, trying to squeeze over a decade worth of innovation into a 7-minute video pitch is quite the challenge! This prestigious competition, in collaboration with the leading trade fair for construction and real estate in Switzerland, highlighted GlasCurtain’s significant contributions to sustainable construction and architecture while providing valuable international marketing exposure.
What to expect for 2024:
This year, GlasCurtain saw remarkable growth and engagement with the industry. We strengthened our connections with architects, building valuable partnerships and expanding our reach. Our commitment to knowledge sharing was evident as we presented more Lunch & Learns than ever before, providing architects and professionals with insights into the latest advancements in curtain wall technology and sustainable design. We have ambitious plans on the horizon, including further collaboration with industry leaders, the introduction of cutting-edge technologies, and the expansion of our product offerings to meet the evolving needs of the construction and real estate sector. Stay tuned for an exciting year ahead as we continue to redefine the future of sustainable building design with GlasCurtain.
Our commercial launch at Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia (left), our return 10 years later at Greenbuild Washington DC (right)!
Looking back, 2023 stands out as a milestone year for GlasCurtain, as it marked our remarkable 10th year of production. As we take a moment to reflect on our humble beginnings as a start-up in the Canadian Prairies and how we’ve since grown into the position of industry leadership — advancing the state of the art for curtain wall thermal performance and low-carbon impact, it’s pretty incredible to see what’s possible when a small but committed team has a clear mission. We’re truly grateful to our partners, colleagues, and clients for all our progress so far. As we continue to build for the next decade, we’re well aware of the significant work that still lies ahead in shaping a sustainable built environment for the future.
Looking ahead to 2024, we’re excited to carry this momentum forward and build upon our continued successes — engaging with more architects, engineers, and contractors, growing our installation partner network across North America, and installing the best curtain wall in the world on the most sustainable and beautiful buildings in our market segment. So, stay tuned for updates via our blogs, emails, and social media because there’s so much more to come…
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. See you in 2024!
[Photo credits: Arcadis, GlasCurtain, Arcadis, Northern Front Studio/Thinkspace Architecture, KMBR Architects, Group 2/DLR Group, Reimagine Architects, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, GlasCurtain, Swissbau, GlasCurtain, Northern Front Studio/Thinkspace Architecture]