As you think about the environmental impact of a commercial building, glass may not be the first consideration that comes to mind. But that’s an oversight.
Glass, in fact, is an essential part of the equation. By choosing the right glass, you can maximize the natural daylight in your space while minimizing unnecessary heat transfer.
Not only does this make conditions more comfortable for the occupants, it also significantly reduces the heating and cooling load for the building. And this, of course, reduces the overall energy usage—benefiting both the owner’s bottom line and the environment.
Glass technologies have improved greatly over the last decade. One particular area of innovation is in the different coatings that can be applied to glass to block out specific parts of the solar spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is ultraviolet light—these are the rays that cause fabrics and other interior materials to fade. At the other end is infrared light, which transfers heat into the space. In the middle is visible light, which is what you want to maximize in your interior, both for its mood-boosting properties as well as its ability to cut your electricity bill.
The glass coatings target ultraviolet and infrared light while preserving the transfer of visible light. In doing so they reduce the U-value of the window. The U-value measures the rate of heat transfer (the lower the value, the more efficient it is). And, amazingly, these coatings are incredibly thin—some are just 2 microns thick, which, for reference, is 1/50th the diameter of a human hair. Not only do these innovations reduce heat transfer and cut your heating and cooling costs, they also protect the interior, preventing furniture from deteriorating due to sun damage.
By choosing the right glass for your project, you can reduce the building’s energy consumption while improving the comfort for everyone inside. What could be more sustainable than that?
Ken Hallam, regional contract manager at Binswanger Glass, has seen the industry evolve over 40-plus years. As he works with clients at Binswanger Glass, he educates them on how to choose the most efficient, effective, and attractive glass solutions for their projects.