Archive | March, 2013

Building Blocks Series 6: The Willis Tower Balconies

27 Mar

This month’s blog post in our Building Blocks series may cause a few of you palpitations but don’t worry we won’t make you step out on to the Willis Tower Balconies!


shutterstock_50701618 willis balcony


Now, we have your attention let’s have a look at the Tower first with a few astonishing facts.

Located in Chicago, it was called the Sears Tower until 2009 when it was bought by the Willis Group, a London- based global insurance broker. It stands 443m tall, is the eighth tallest building in the world and cost over $150million to build.



shutterstock_82224484 willis tower



It took three years to be built by some 2,000 workers and, the moment you have all been waiting for, has about 16,100 bronze coloured windows. Now, there would be a lot of elbow power required to keep all those windows clean but 6 roof-mounted robotic window washing machines  keep them sparkling. A lot safer as well!

We could tell you more about the Tower but we know you want to hear about the balconies.  They are situated on the 103rd floor which is called the Skydeck. Some 1.3million tourists visit the Skydeck every year.

Although they look very scary and you would certainly need a head for heights to venture out, the following description may put your mind at rest.

The balconies are actually glass boxes that extend out 4.3 feet from the side of the tower. They are made up of three layers of half inch thick glass that has been laminated in to one unit, which makes them very strong and prevents any steel supports obscuring the view. If you are brave enough to stand out on the glass floor, you will be looking down at the city of Chicago and beyond from a height of 1,353 feet.

To ensure the view is always brilliantly clear, the glass boxes can go back inside the tower for cleaning and essential maintenance. What a great safety feature.

To truly appreciate the scale of the experience you can watch this short video with views from the balcony and then you can decide for yourself if you could take a peek!

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26 Mar

How to be a great FENSA Fitter

25 Mar

Here in the FENSA offices we have been having a think about what it means to be a FENSA Fitter.
We know that  the number 1 point is compliance with building regulations, but what about some of the other things running alongside?
The obvious other thing a FENSA Fitter has to deal with is contact with your customer and other members of the public. We all know that good customer relations can sometimes be a little tricky, so we thought about this long and hard and came up with this useful list of good practice.
We hope this helps, but do feel free to add to the list with what you think makes a great FENSA Fitter.

  • Do not arrive on time; aim to be a little early so in the event of traffic or other hold up, so you will not be leaving your customer waiting for you.
  • Stay a little later if the job you are on is not quite finished. Your customer will appreciate your dedication and commitment to them.
  • Speak quietly and appropriately when around your customers. Any of your apprentices will see how you treat customers and they will follow your example.
  • Dress appropriately! Nobody likes to see the proverbial ‘Builder’s bum’!

shutterstock_108758768 good fitter

  • Be positive. If there’s a problem, solve it, without complaining. Your customer will admire your tenacity and be more likely to recommend your services. Who wouldn’t want a fitter that can be trusted to get the job done against all adversity?
  • Maintain a clean and tidy work area. This is a good health and safety policy as there may be young children around. Your customer will be more reassured and relaxed.

shutterstock_3977698 tidy building

  • Be dependable. If you are ill or there is a problem with the van, let your customer know as soon as possible. They may have taken a day off work or got a friend to come over. Everybody likes to be kept in the loop and it will help maintain good customer relations.
  • Above all remain calm and polite if things take a turn for the worst. Take the initiative and use your positive attitude to defuse the situation and be the problem solver.

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Building Blocks Series 5: So, what is a Skyscraper?

11 Mar

If you are a regular blog reader (if not, why not!) you will have noticed we love all things tall and made of glass. What probably sprang to your mind at that description was a Skyscraper. Yes, the next blog in our Building Blocks series is all about those very tall, edifices that seem to get ever taller in the race to be the tallest.

So what is a skyscraper? This is Wikipedia’s definition:

‘A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building of many stories usually designed for office and commercial use.’

But we know they are much more than that.

If a building is taller than the buildings around it and changes the look of the skyline, it can be described as a Skyscraper.

We see them everywhere around us in our cities where the land is very expensive and there is not much left! As you can imagine the skyscraper can offer a lot of floor space on a very small plot of land so are generally very economical.

It was rare to see very tall buildings before the 19th Century because people didn’t like all those steps.
When skyscrapers began to be built of steel and glass, and the advent of the elevator, there was no going back.

The tallest skyscraper to date is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, standing at 829.8m, which was completed in 2009.

Of course, there are some other things to be considered apart from the height.
Skyscrapers have to be very tough and survive strong winds, earthquakes and the biggest danger, fire. These sorts of problems make the designing of skyscrapers very complex but once built they are very hardwearing. The Empire State Building which we featured in a previous blog was built in 1931 and is still in use today, over 80 years later.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

Modern skyscrapers can be designed to be very energy efficient. 30 St Mary Axe in London or as you will probably know it, The Gherkin, uses half the energy of a similar building. Amazingly, despite its unique shape, the Gherkin has only one piece of curved glass at the very top.

The Gherkin

The Gherkin

They can even be entered in to their very own competition. One of the entries in the The Emporis Skyscraper Award 2012, a 41 storey skyscraper in Cincinnati, USA, was inspired by a tiara worn by Princess Diana. It didn’t win but was named one of the top ten skyscrapers in the world.

There are so many amazing skyscrapers throughout the world’s cities that we just don’t know which one we like the best. If we have given you the skyscraper bug we did find this website that is just great to browse as it is full of brilliant photos.

Let us know which is your favourite skyscraper. Maybe we should take a poll

The National Fenestration Awards 2013

6 Mar

Well, we have had the G12 awards, and what a great event that was!

G12 logo

It was a fantastic opportunity to reward the hard work and dedication of those working in our industry, and have that recognition realised nationwide. Awards help to boost team morale, raise the profile of your brand, improve its value, help to generate business and provide an extra stamp of credibility among your customers.

There is now a new award in the form of The National Fenestration Awards. (NFA)

cropped-logo-small NFA

This new Industry Awards Scheme will be the first to be run online and through the power of social media. We know how important social media is to the industry as a whole. The great thing with being ‘online’ is everybody can be involved, whether they are using Facebook, Twitter, websites or any of the other forms of social media.

The NFA intends to use Twitter as its social media platform as the founders feel Twitter will be the most suitable to engage with everyone.

The general aim of the awards is to generate interest in the industry and allow people from all sectors of the industry to vote for those individuals who deserve special recognition within the Fenestration Industry

To be able to vote you will first need to register. This process only takes a few minutes and once registered you will then be kept up to date via email. There are many categories representing all the aspects of the industry and nominations are already under way. There will not be a judging panel as the nominees will be voted for by everyone. There is also an opportunity for three of the categories to be suggested by the registered voters.

industry-magazine-300x300 NFA

The National Fenestration Awards will be run by Aluminum Trade Supply and Double Glazing Blogger as well as a team of industry professionals and experts.



If this mini update has piqued your interest look out over the coming weeks for further details of the National Fenestration Awards as well as the registration process, categories and news.