Industry Reacts Optimistically to California Auto Glass Regulations
July 1, 2009

Many have shown optimism toward the California Air Resources Board (CARB) vote on Friday to adopt new regulations that will impact both auto glass in new vehicles and auto glass that is replaced starting in 2012. The regulations will require that sidelites prevent 45 percent of the sun's total heat-producing energy from entering the car, with the windshield rejecting 50 percent of the sun's energy. Likewise, in 2016, car manufacturers will be required to install windows that prevent at least 60 percent of the sun's heat-producing rays from entering the car's interior, or propose alternative technologies to achieve an equivalent result, in new cars sold in California.

The regulations are designed to cut down on emissions from vehicles by keeping the car cooler via the glass, to save energy used by the vehicle's air conditioner. One proponent of the regulations has been Guardian Industries, which has made products that meet the criteria for many years, according to Robert Vandal, director of advanced product development for Guardian Automotive.

"Solar reflective glazing will be required on the windshield and roof glass of vehicles in California phasing in between 2012 and 2014," Vandal says. "The level of performance required in these years can be met with the products Guardian has offered for over 10 years to European auto makers."

The requirements to come in 2016 will require rejection of 60 percent of the sun's heat-producing ray., Guardian is still developing a process to meet this.

"Guardian does not currently commercially sell a product for the automotive market in this performance level but is already working on prototypes," adds Vandal. "The regulation as stated prior to the ARB Board meeting of June 25 proposed windshields meet this higher level in 2014 so we were already well on our way to preparing this product for commercial offering. The ARB ruling actually gives more time in the product development plans."

For replacement glass, which also will be affected by the regulations, Vandal expects CARB to develop a marking system in the fall.

Dick Heilman, former vice president of marketing and research and development for Pittsburgh Glass Works, told glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine that he believes the regulations are a win-win for both the consumer and the industry at large. (Heilman made these comments in letter to the editor written in response to a recent blog authored by glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine editor Penny Stacey, titled "California Dreamin.'" CLICK HERE for the full text of Heilman's letter.)

"As I see it, this regulation is a quadruple winner," Heilman says. "First, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced and that is the ultimate intent of the regulation. Second, and this is more important, should other states or indeed the country adopt similar requirements, less fuel will be consumed and that reduces dependence on foreign oil."

For consumers, he notes that it will increase their comfort within the vehicle.

"Finally, and some outside our industry may not call this a win, but the glass industry will have an opportunity to sell more value-added products," Heilman adds. "This regulation, especially if it goes nationwide, will stimulate innovation within the automotive glass industry and provide another level upon which competitors can differentiate themselves."

Heilman's optimism seems to be shared by shop owners and managers as well in California.

"Any energy policy implemented is worthwhile," says Mitch Lee, logistics manager for Auto Glass of San Diego.

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