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How Technology is Affecting Architectural Glazing

Think about it:

60 percent of heat loss through the fabric of residential buildings is caused by glazed areas. Ordinarily, current glazing technologies such as single pane glass lead to considerable heat loss during winter and significant heat gain during the summer season.

But, technology in architectural glazing is rapidly unfolding. Recent innovations aim to bring more daylight indoors and at the same time lower energy consumption.

So what are some of these latest breakthroughs in glazing technologies?

Let’s dive in.

#1. Smart Windows

Glass is critical to a building’s aesthetic success as it creates an inviting environment compared to a closed-off construction. And as it turns out, technology is evolving every day and there are some creative developments such as smart windows.

In other words, you can switch glass from clear to opaque at the touch of a button. Simply, it’s privacy on demand. This can be achieved either through a smart film being applied to existing glass or the installation of smart glass. In that case, this technology can help reduce energy costs during summer months while maintaining privacy.

But there’s more. Imagine converting an existing window or glass partition into a HD/4K projection screen. Yes, interactive glass is no longer science fiction. It’s doable.

Now consider this:

Cats are not the only major cause of bird deaths. Windows play a significant role too.

The good news is that technology has provided a solution.

#2. Bird-friendly Windows

According to the British Trust for Ornithology, up to 30 million birds die every year from window strikes in the UK. Bird strikes are prevalent during migratory seasons where buildings occupy the migratory route. To reduce such accidents, New York City passed new regulations in January 2020 requiring all new buildings and major renovations to incorporate “bird-friendly” construction as from 2021.

And this is where technology comes in. With the knowledge that birds can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum, a patterned coating is applied to glass. Invisible to the human eye, this technology can help save millions of birds from injury or death. The best part is that bird-friendly glass has been tested and approved by the American Bird Conservancy.

All said, protecting birds is not the only way glazing technologies can help protect the environment. These innovations can also help reduce your energy costs.

#3. Photovoltaic Glazing

Glass contributes to the sustainable performance of buildings. And you’re already familiar with capturing solar energy. Normally, it involves photovoltaic cell panels being installed on roofs or fields to collect sunlight and convert it into electricity. But when the same panels are used as windows you would have a pitch-dark building.

Thanks to technology, it’s now possible to have clear glass that doubles up as a collector of solar energy. To explain, thin strips of photovoltaic cells embedded in the glass allow the conversion of sunlight into electricity without compromising aesthetics.

Now imagine the energy efficiency that would be achieved considering the amount of glass being used in building facades today.

And finally...

#4. Vacuum Insulated Glass

Glass usage is increasingly popular in architecture. But then there’s a global drive to increase efficiency and the sustainability of buildings.

Enter vacuum insulated glass. It’s an alternative to the gas-filled glazing, but instead of using a gas as the insulating medium, a vacuum is introduced in the gap. And to stop atmospheric pressure from bringing the glass panes into contact, spacers are placed in the gap. Also, the edge of the panes are sealed to maintain a stable vacuum level.

Simply, it’s the same principle that has been used in the fabrication of thermos bottles over the years. And the goal of this technology is to provide improved thermal insulation while allowing in ample light.

What’s Next?

As you know, glass is a fundamental material in construction projects. And the above are some of the ways that technology is affecting architectural glazing. But the innovations won’t stop there, they will only keep growing as we continuously push the limits of human ingenuity.

The big question is:

Are you ready to take advantage of these breakthroughs?


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