At the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Annual Conference in San Diego yesterday, three unique industry-related perspectives from three different occupational fields discussed whether using less glass in building applications is the best solution for saving energy costs.
At the Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa, Rahul Athalye of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) analyzed buildings’ window-to-wall ratio (WWR) by presenting the results of a study the company conducted. Its objective was to realistically evaluate the WWR impact of a whole building pertaining to energy levels by monitoring the effectiveness of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) 90.1-2010. Athalye tested 12 office-space locations in various climates, including Houston, Phoenix, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco and Vancouver.

“The results show energy consumption increases as WWR increases,” said Athalye.

Nick Bagatelos of BISEM Inc., a provider of photovoltaic curtainwall systems, presented GANA members with steps to achieve good energy-saving levels without decreasing WWR.
In Bagatelos’ presentation of the net zero envelope, he told members this methodology is not only cost-effective but is flexible enough to “offset issues that codes bring to the table.” Tinkering with a building’s energy saving variables such as light transmittance via electrochromic technology and the use of solar hot water generation as well as various sunlighting options can drastically cut a complex’s consumption without jeopardizing its WWR, he said.

The third panelist was Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, the principal at Graystone, a health and design research and consulting firm. Dr. Gray brought forth the human wellbeing perspective of building development by discussing the scientific effects of daylighting.  She noted in prior years, manufacturers and architects did not put much consideration into the human health repercussions of building design.

In the workplace, stress can easily engulf employees. According to Dr. Gray,
in 2001 workers’ stress levels doubled healthcare costs. In the same study, stress was also to blame for 26 percent loss of workers’ efficiently using their time wisely. She said removing environmental workplace stressers increases an employee’s ability to focus for longer spans of time, and light can provide a certain therapeutic affect to help curb stress.

Dr. Gray continued to say workers’ “presenteeism,” the state of being fully aware and in tune with what is currently going on, costs employers $150 billion per year in lost productivity. Sunlight plays a role in hormone development and happiness levels but too much or too little can become an issue. In her presentation, she said from manufacturers to architects, those in the industry need to design more human-centered buildings and reflect upon the behavioral responses of workplace stress.

“There is a need to link all three of these aspects together when creating or remodeling a building to make better decisions for workspace environments,” said Dr. Gray.

Although the panelist agreed there are aspects of the commercial building industry that still need to be improved upon, the general consensus was that a heightened implementations of glass is beneficial to humans as a whole.

“Glass has never been more popular,” said Valerie Block of DuPont, who attended the presentation. “Glass provides aesthetic excitement and positive health effects, which is creating an increase in customer demand.”

1 Comment

  1. In the mid fifties the industry was facing a huge push for windowless schools. The school construction was booming post WW II and was a concern for the industry. LOF funded & produced a program countering the windowless movement with psychological study & testing results about human behavior and negative learning impact that was presented to architects nationwide through the LOF dealer network and was succesful. PPG may have had similar efforts , but I was an LOF dealer.

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