Comfort, efficiency, security top agenda at BETEC
Members of the glass and window industry gathered in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, for the Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council Symposium, Fenestration: A World of Change. The event, hosted by the National Institute of Building Sciences, is part of the 2013 Building Innovations Conference & Expo that runs through Jan. 11.
Several discussions centered around daylighting and the role it plays in ensuring building occupant comfort. Mudit Saxena, associate director of Heschong-Mahone, addressed the importance of daylight to human body rhythms, and consequently, occupant productivity and performance. "Ninety-five percent of our lives is spent indoors. We need to be designing our spaces with light and human rhythms in mind. Bring in light and views," Saxena said.
Saxena cited several daylighting studies that showed a marked impact on productivity in various building types. One study showed a 20 percent increase in student learning in daylit spaces, versus school spaces with no daylight. A retail study showed an increase in sales and overall customer transactions in a daylit store. Two office studies showed similar findings: one reflected a 7 percent increase in work speed in a daylit office space, and the other, 10 percent better cognitive performance. "Across the board, daylighting had an impact on productivity," he said.
Kerry Haglund, senior research fellow for the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota, also addressed building occupant comfort in a presentation about the facade design tools under development to help manufacturers and designers measure factors that affect comfort.
Several BETEC presenters addressed the overarching impact that fenestration improvements in existing buildings could have on U.S. energy use. "We must address the efficiency of our existing buildings," said Chris Mathis, president, Mathis Consulting Co., the BETEC symposium chair. "Only 1 percent of our buildings are new construction; the other 99 percent are existing. ... We need to push policies and programs that encourage investments in our [existing] homes and buildings."
Buildings use 49 percent of energy in the United States, Mathis said. "Our buildings are responsible for most of our pollution, but we don't think about that. We think about our cars instead, because we can see the exhaust," he said.
Glazing replacement in commercial buildings could have a major impact on energy use, as "most of our commercial buildings are from 1950 to 1989," Mathis said. "These post-World War II buildings have poor-performing windows—they have good bones, but poor efficiency."
Replacing all of the glazing systems on the existing commercial building stock would save billions of dollars in energy costs, reported Stephen Selkowitz, head, Building Technologies Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "The current stock costs $20 billion annually. Replacing all of the windows in those buildings with intelligent facades would surpass net zero and save $15 billion annually," Selkowitz said during the symposium.
Security glazing also topped the meeting agenda, with several presenters, including keynote Stephen Ayers, the Architect of the Capitol, addressing the issue. Ayers' office handles all building and design for structures on Capitol Hill, from legislative office interiors, to the podiums for inauguration, to all new construction and renovation. The office has worked to carefully balance historic preservation with security concerns, particularly in terms of glazing.
"After 9-11, we applied interior films on all windows across Capitol Hill to minimize glass shards in the event of an explosion," Ayers said. "Additionally, we installed some exterior security windows in some locations—many pressure fit—so there is no drilling. This preserves the historic character and the existing windows."
Valerie Block, senior marketing specialist, DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions, also discussed the overall trends in security glazing. "Where you might think we'd see less glass (in places like embassies), we actually are seeing more, in part because of surveillance," Block said. "If anything, [in security applications], the glass is getting bigger, and we're seeing more of it."
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