Energy & Environment

Industry Experts Discuss Glass and Energy Efficiency Trends

Energy efficiency has been a major topic within the glass industry of late, especially since New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments denouncing all-glass buildings back in April. Glass industry professionals spent ample time on the topic of glass and energy efficiency in a webinar titled, “Professional Roundtable: Perspectives on Glass and Glazing in Design.”

Urmilla Sowell, advocacy and technical director for the National Glass Association (NGA) opened the roundtable by asking how industry professionals responded to de Blasio’s remarks.

James O’Callaghan, director at Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers, said that while the Mayor’s statement was bold, it was not entirely educated in respect to how the industry uses glass.

“Fundamentally we use glass to allow us to have light into our buildings, which is a need psychologically. It also has many benefits in respect to how it can be made,” he said. “It’s a relatively economic form to be able to unitize and create façade systems and with that you have historically seen a lot of buildings that are cladded with glass … I’m not advocating that glass is the answer to everything by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think it plays a very important part in architecture…”

Dan Weissman, senior associate and director of Lam Labs, used the phrase “everything in moderation” when it comes to glass. He said that there are few alternatives for a material that can maintain thermal weather barriers, let light in and last on the façade of a building for more than 50 years.

Thomas Culp, engineering and strategic consultant and owner of Birch Point Consulting, pointed out that glass can offer aesthetic and performance qualities.

“It’s presented as a false choice but there’s an opportunity to do both. Glass can offer views and other benefits of glazing while being energy efficient,” he said, while explaining that recent updates to building codes will take time to go into effect. Culp said that the industry needs to get to a point where new low-E coatings and vacuum insulating glass technology are being used and maintained regularly.

In regard to codes, Nick Bagatelos, founder and president of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems, added that codes are driving energy efficiency in California.

“The technology is available but the codes aren’t there yet in the rest of the country,” he said.

Another reason high-performance glazing isn’t more widely used is because it can be value-engineered out due to being cost prohibitive.

“Architects inherently understand the value and positive impacts of glazing on occupant health and well-being … and on real estate values. A well-glazed building has a higher real estate value. The question is how we get them to keep the high-performance, energy efficient technology?” said Culp, who suggested conveying to the building owner the financial ramifications of value engineering high-performance glazing out of a project in regard to the human and energy performance side of the equation. He said it’s also important to point out the financial savings in the long term as an existing building as well.

Bagatelos pointed to LEED as an example of what can be done to educate people on the value of energy efficiency.

“Buildings that gained LEED certification 12 years ago, their value is higher today than non-LEED buildings,” he said. “Buildings going LEED are doing so because the developer has seen the value.”

The participants agreed that being brought in early on a project allows the architects to make more informed decisions about the products included in a façade and its engineering. However, some said they are rarely brought in early enough in the process.

The webinar was hosted by Architectural Record and sponsored by the
NGA as part of its Glass & Glazing Design Academy.

Next Energy Technologies Chosen to Help Accelerate the Development of Sustainable Cities

Next Energy Technologies Inc. has been selected by companies within sustainable urban development to participate in the 2019 Urbantech Program, an accelerator and technology program aimed at strengthening the development of tech-based solutions for sustainable construction and urban development.

Next was chosen for its innovations in transparent photovoltaics designed to advance sustainability of buildings which currently account for more than 40% of global energy consumption, according to the company Next is developing low-cost, printable, transparent coatings that are integrated into windows, allowing for the harvest and conversion of light energy for use as onsite renewable power. Next joins nine other early-stage companies to accelerate the development of sustainable cities. As a benefit of participation in the program, each company will receive direct access to corporate partners—VKR/Velux, COWI and EWII—for the exploration of possible pilot-projects to test, validate and advance their technologies. The program offers companies the opportunity to scale their businesses even further with its corporate partners after the program has ended, and be a part of creating the future of sustainable cities.

Launched in 2019 and founded through partnerships with Danish companies, the Urbantech program will contribute to the development of new solutions for the cities of the future. The goal is to help startups make construction more efficient, buildings and energy systems more flexible, and public spaces more multifunctional.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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