Thursday, November 24, 2016

Applications of Floor-to-Ceiling Windows In Sustainable Architecture

I've been caught in a dilemma for the last couple of years. Being proficient in REVIT allows many to create dramatic glass facades with ease. And there are real-world examples where this is nearly executed as such by curtain wall suppliers through BIM. In any case, the imaginative possibilities of bold forms containing light-filled interiors is attractive to many. That said, unfortunately from a sustainability standpoint this type of building enclosure is flawed. In northern latitudes this proposal becomes very energy inefficient. I've enjoy reading the work architect and writer Lloyd Alter of Toronto who constantly pokes the industry to action on this point. 

No one wants to compromise on design. How can one balance the desire for lots of natural light and beautiful views with some sort of moral conscience that architecture needs to do its part reducing North America's carbon footprint? There are a couple technological solutions, one of which is triple-glazing. Certainly triple-glazed curtain wall systems exist but it's hard to find any really innovative examples of their use. Certainly if one is sticking to orthogonal surfaces it might be possible to be satisfied with this state of affairs. But in reality it would seem designers think of radical approaches all the time and satisfying these demands might require every panel in a window system have a slightly different shape. Building information modelling on many levels can reduce the effort needed to track such a design program. However, adding another pane of glass can only increase complexity during the manufacturing process so as one can see we are left with a bit of a dilemma. 

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