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Windows on Sustainability

Advanced glazings help buildings achieve net-zero envelopes

September 2012
Sponsored by Guardian Industries Corp., View and BISEM

Continuing Education

Use the following learning objectives to focus your study while reading this month’s Continuing Education article.

Learning Objectives - After reading this article, you will be able to:

  1. Identify types of high-performance glass that contribute to building sustainability.
  2. Specify glazing solutions that reduce building energy consumption.
  3. Discuss trends in utilizing glazing products for net-zero wall systems.
  4. Describe the role of building integrated photovoltaics in decreasing global carbon dioxide emissions.

Credits: 1.00 HSW


This course was approved by the GBCI for 1 GBCI CE hour(s) for LEED Credential Maintenance.

This test is no longer available for credit

With world net electricity generation estimated to soar 77 percent by 2030, powered by fossil fuels that will generate a 39 percent rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the move is on to net-zero buildings—structures that generate as much energy as they consume. Often considered the next wave in architecture, net-zero buildings dispense with heating bills, electricity expenses, air-conditioning costs and other energy uses—and can potentially be independent of the energy grid supply. The American Institute of Architects has set a goal of net-zero buildings by 2030 and some parts of the country, notably California, will require that a building generates as much energy as it uses by that date. This article will focus on the significant role advanced glazing systems play in getting buildings toward net zero. High-performance glazings will be defined, their benefits and recent advances discussed, as well as how they fit into the rapidly emerging fields of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and pre-wired curtain walls, which incorporate advanced glazings into the building envelope, replacing traditional materials with those that serve as both building skin and solar power generator.

Advanced Glazings for a Net-Zero Envelope Solution

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that buildings account for some 40 percent of all energy use in the United States—more than either the transportation or industrial sectors—and 70 percent of its power plant-generated electricity. Over 30 percent of this energy is lost through poor building efficiency. Nearly every country has passed regulations to reduce buildings' energy consumption, and manufacturers are racing to develop products that meet those demands.

Windows are commonly regarded as one of the least energy-efficient building components, responsible for up to 40 percent of the total heating, cooling and lighting consumption. According to the National Research Energy Laboratory, the potential energy savings from the wide-scale use of advanced windows is nearly 6 percent of national energy consumption. Window manufacturers and glazing contractors are embracing new technologies to achieve ever higher energy performance through low solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) to reduce air-conditioning loads and through low U-factors to reduce thermal transfer—key goals of commercial buildings.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Headquarters in Sacramento, California

A UL-approved BIPV curtain-wall retrofit on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Headquarters in Sacramento, California.

Photo by David Bush, courtesy of BISEM USA

 

Advanced Glazings for a Net-Zero Envelope Solution

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that buildings account for some 40 percent of all energy use in the United States—more than either the transportation or industrial sectors—and 70 percent of its power plant-generated electricity. Over 30 percent of this energy is lost through poor building efficiency. Nearly every country has passed regulations to reduce buildings' energy consumption, and manufacturers are racing to develop products that meet those demands.

Windows are commonly regarded as one of the least energy-efficient building components, responsible for up to 40 percent of the total heating, cooling and lighting consumption. According to the National Research Energy Laboratory, the potential energy savings from the wide-scale use of advanced windows is nearly 6 percent of national energy consumption. Window manufacturers and glazing contractors are embracing new technologies to achieve ever higher energy performance through low solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) to reduce air-conditioning loads and through low U-factors to reduce thermal transfer—key goals of commercial buildings.

 

Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Architectural Record
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