High Performance Building Facades

The glass and glazing industry is rapidly changing. Even in parts of the country where energy regulations are less strict, there is a real emphasis on improving the building envelope. The codes and markets are pushing that way. The overall movement is towards energy efficiency and it’s no surprise that one of the key trends we’re seeing is the continued innovation of high performance facades.

There is a balanced approach on thermally broken framing materials, high performance glass and warm edge spacer technologies. All of this is driven to meet the more stringent energy codes that are published by ASHRAE.

Buildings are energy guzzlers. They are fully operating and consuming energy at peak demand hours of the day when electricity is most expensive. Commercial office buildings consume 40% of electricity generated in the United States. That’s a lot of electricity. Lighting and air conditioning make up 50% of the consumption of that energy. Commercial glass companies like Binswanger Glass have a great opportunity through our products and services to positively impact this.

In the last 20 years we’ve seen a significant increase in the use of low-e glass. Double or triple low-e coatings are one of the best ways we have of improving the solar heat gain coefficient (SGHC). We know what the glass can do however there is always room for improvement in the frames surrounding the glass. Market data is also showing a dramatic increase in thermally broken framing systems. The latest designs have a higher performance thermal break. The PVC, pour and debridge type of resin based material has been replaced with a high end ISO bar polyamide based thermal break material.

In order to visualize the flow of heat through a window, think of the flow of a river. If you want to block the flow of water in a river, it’s not much use putting a dam in the middle and forgetting about the edge. Water will flow freely around. It’s the same with a window. It’s no good making a great center of glass performance and forgetting about the edge because the heat is just going to flow. It’s really important to think about the window more holistically so you are improving the thermal performance of the edges and the center.

Tinting the exterior substrate is also another measure to dramatically enhance solar heat gain coefficient. By adding a ceramic frit pattern with 40-60% coverage onto the second surface of your glass, you can enhance your SGHC performance by 40-80%. These measures are widely used throughout our industry because of their esthetics, ability to save energy and provide fast payback.

For more information on energy codes, high performance glazing or Binswanger’s commercial glass services, please contact Jill Read at [email protected]