FTI’s World Congress Returns with a Look at Façade Developments, Innovations

The Façade Tectonics Institute (FTI) 2022 World Congress in Los Angeles kicked off on Wednesday, Oct. 12, offering a broad spectrum of information for attendees. From energy requirements to emerging trends and technologies, presenters are packing the meeting halls with professionals hungry for industry updates and trends.

The last in-person World Congress was four years ago. Mic Patterson, ambassador of innovation and collaboration for the FTI, is excited to be together again in person and said things are off to a strong start.

“Day one of the congress was outstanding,” says Patterson. “The day’s keynote, Gabrielle Bullock, was brilliant and the paper presentations throughout the day were excellent. This is our first in-person world congress since 2018 and nearly 300 people traveled from all over the world to be here. I can only describe the mood of the attendees as jubilant. It’s been a whole lot of fun.”

Steve Zhou, technical director with Warmframe Technology Corp., discusses thermal break technology during the FTI’s World Congress.

Wednesday’s sessions included presentations such as facades and systems, energy and sustainability, code updates and much more. One session put a laser focus on emerging technology with respect to thermal breaks.

Increasingly stringent energy-saving requirements, either already in effect or on the horizon depending on location, equate to additional challenges for engineers, architects and contractors. They must look for more efficient ways to reduce the thermal transmittance of their projects regardless of scale, the new U-factor requirements pave the way for innovation.

Steve Zhou of Warmframe Technologies discussed a solution his company uses: the thermal break blanket, or a continuous thermal break. Oftentimes, U-factor considerations come last when it comes to the construction of a new project. Zhou says the technology not only contributes to high performance but also design freedom.

“As a façade design process, you try to solve the structural challenge, the aesthetic requirements for an architect, then you think about water, air tightness and the seismic requirements. And the thermal challenge always comes last,” Zhou says. “When everything is decided, they start to check the thermal performance of the whole façade.” At that time, he said, it was very difficult to improve thermal performance.

One reason for that difficulty is simply the way heat transfers within a façade. Thermal breaks use the same concept as low-E coatings, with strips reducing conduction and the air gap in between the strips addressing convection. Zhou says heat transfer within a façade’s frame works much like electricity.

Since heat passes through the weakest point of the façade, Zhou says improving thermal performance means utilizing a “continuous thermal break.” He added that the inorganic composite material used for Warmframe’s blanket has a much lower level of thermal conductivity when compared to traditional thermal breaks. This equates to not only a reduction in the frame’s U-factor but also the U-factor of the overall façade.

“Traditional thermal breaks or materials with triple pane insulating glass, you get 0.4 for the overall U-factor,” Zhou says using a recent project in Qingdao, China, as an example. “But you can just use a thermal break blanket with double pane IG to achieve even lower U-factors. That means you save one layer of glass, and you have better performance.”

Zhou said that addressing thermal performance at the beginning of a project, along with less material use, may also mean even more freedom in the design process.

The Façade Tectonics Institute 2022 World Congress continues through the end of today, Thursday, Oct. 13. Stay tuned to USGNN™ for more updates from the event.

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