Glass: A gateway to improving total building performance
There is a growing appreciation in the industry about the inter-relationship of external glazing in achieving higher levels of sustainability and performance in a building’s design. As buildings account for an estimated 40 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S., the emerging concept of a building as a living system is shedding new light on the many benefits that high-performance external glazing can bring to the building envelope. For members of the commercial design community, this translates into some very meaningful design attributes.
Proper external glazing can play a key role in LEED certification, energy efficiency, comfort and productivity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial building windows alone are responsible for approximately 4 percent of the nation's total energy usage, so, proper choice of glazing can have a dramatic impact on a building’s overall sustainability.
The growing trend toward higher performance glazing is also driven by practical business interests beyond the design community. For instance, commercial building owners and facility managers are increasingly seeing a building’s occupancy rate, sq. ft. ROI, marketability and tenant appeal positively impacted by improved energy efficiency, daylighting and aesthetics. With so much at stake, external glazing can play a pivotal role in ensuring a building’s functionality and efficiency.
For architects and engineers, designing carbon-neutral, sustainable buildings is a step toward achieving a more environmentally responsible future. By providing leadership on the fundamental impact of glass as a gateway to improving total building performance versus what has historically been viewed as a commoditized product, the industry has a terrific opportunity to engage with customers on a more sophisticated level. Glass now has a new life as a key enabler of the interests of the broader community it serves.
Bruce Lang is the vice president of Marketing and Business Development at Southwall Technologies, Palo Alto, Calif. He also is the president of Southwall Insulating Glass, LLC, a joint venture company established to manufacture energy-efficient insulating glass incorporating Southwall's Heat Mirror film technology. Write him at email@example.com.
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.