Last summer we invited a group of architects to Technical Glass Products to discuss strategies for improving building envelope performance. One of the questions on the table was how to optimize curtain walls and façades to address peak loads and total energy usage. While solutions ranged from hyper-insulated glazing that could be operated by users, to improved energy modeling, the success of these strategies kept coming back to how the building is used.
Too often, high-performance glazing applications miss the mark because performance and use don’t align. This directly impacts people’s perception of glass. If a building has an expansive, double-glazed curtain wall with exceptional solar control and insulating capabilities, but all people remember is the heat and glare that enters through a different window near their desk, then glass loses credibility.
So, how can the industry develop better glazing solutions that don’t favor performance outcomes over people? An important starting point is to engage the building owner and design team on how the building will be used.
The more complete your understanding of how a building owner or architect envisions occupants using a building, the better your ability to tailor glass and framing products to meet multiple needs like occupant comfort, task and performance goals such as energy efficiency and life safety. Providing key decision makers with glazing solutions that provide widespread, functional value can also help products from being value-engineered out of the project later. Ultimately, this helps ensure the right product is used for the job.
Honest talk in the planning stage can also help the building owner and architect set realistic expectations. How often will people be near the perimeter of the building? How will user control for operable windows or shades get communicated to building occupants? Is reducing the glazing area necessary to improve energy efficiency? Glaziers and suppliers that identify and work through these questions are better equipped to make product or design adjustments that get the system closer to design and performance goals.
By getting involved early, the glass industry can work to ensure future buildings will have large windows and curtain walls, be filled with warm, natural light and support energy efficiency goals and occupant wellbeing.
Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and (past) chairs the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). Contact him at 800/426-0279.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.