Architects want energy savings, strength in glass
Energy efficient and impact resistance seemed to become the mantra for many of the near 30 presenters during the Engineered Transparence: Glass in Architecture and Structural Engineering conference Sept. 26-28 at Columbia University in New York.
Many of the conference speakers addressed the limits of glass, primarily in terms of strength. Architects want more light and transparency in their buildings, but increasing demands for safer building envelopes has forced glass manufacturers to come up with stronger products.
“Glass is being forced to improve from a technical standpoint,” said Roberto Bicchiarelli, executive vice president for Permasteelisa Cladding Technologies LP, with U.S. headquarters in Windsor, Conn. Permasteelisa has addressed architect demands by testing and developing blast-mitigating curtain wall systems, many that use the company’s cable-net designs.
So far, the design community’s demand for light and the glass industry’s efforts to develop stronger products have allowed glass to stay as an essential building envelope product, said Laurie Hawkinson, professor for Colubia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “Light and visibility pushes continued use of glass. Look at Homeland Security structures—light and visibility are a main aspect of design, despite [blast-mitigation] challenges,” she said.
However, Hawkinson, Bicchiarelli and other conference speakers agreed industry and building engineers need to be vigilant about continuing the creation of better and stronger glass and systems.
In addition to strength, the design community is demanding better energy performance and sustainability in their glass.
Graham Dodd, engineer for Arup in London, says the photovoltaic industry needs to create better solar glass options for architects. One huge improvement in cost and performance would be maximizing the capture of the sun’s energy in the PV modules. “Right now we’re only using the visible portion of the electro magnetic spectrum. Why aren’t we using all parts?”
Dodd also recommended the glass industry change its coatings so coated glass can be recycled after it’s removed from buildings. “We need recyclable coatings instead of the disposable coatings we have right now,” he said. Removable coatings would be one option of a recyclable coating.
Thomas Richardson, material scientist for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, part of the University of California at Berkeley, said dynamic glazings are another viable option to improve performance. “What’s missing is our ability to control the amount of light and radiation that comes through glass,” he said.
The conference was hosted by the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and the Institute of Building Construction, Techniche Universitat Dresden. Oldcastle Glass of Santa Monica, Calif., sponsored the event.
Read about the importance of communication between glass manufacturers and architects here.
—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly