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The Future of Glass Facades for FM's

19 June 2017
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Glazing performance has increased exponentially over the past decade.

Better performing façades and windows mean harder to replace panels. Which means expert glaziers with access to local and international glazing products are required.

The continual push from architects for unobstructed views with floor to ceiling glass has driven higher energy performance requirements from glazing rather than going for smaller window areas and an interesting point to dwell on.

Two articles published on www.ArchitectureandDesign.com.au  comment on the future of glass building façades in terms of energy-efficiency and costs.

Architecture and Design’s Nathan Johnson asks “Is full height glazing on the way out for Australian commercial buildings?” writing that floor-to-ceiling glass in large-scale commercial buildings has been on trend for the last ten years and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

This trend is seemingly in direct competition with the sustainability movement that also has interest from a variety of parties including developers, investors, government and consumers because in general increasing glazing means an increase in potential space for solar heat gain and glare and therefore more money spent on mechanical cooling, better glass and frames, or shading devices. 

This paradox has resulted in better glazing products entering the Australian market such as low-e glass, double glazed units (DGUs) and thermally broken framing, particularly as buildings are increasingly being marketed on their energy performance as well as their looks

Commenting on recent changes to the BCA and NABERS impacting on façade design, Alistair Coulstock, principal at Cundall, a sustainable engineering company operating in the built environment, notes that  energy is generally too cheap to be a standalone driver in façade design and so the only other way to address the majority of the market is regulation.

National Construction Code and NABERS changes are driving higher performance requirements from façades.  One is a minimum standard, regulatory approach, the other is market driven.  Over the last 10 years improved Section J efficiency regulations have meant that no longer can you get away with specifying a single glazed clear façade unless your proposed design uses a reduced amount of glass in its façade.

The trend of Australia following Europe in terms of energy-efficient glazing is noteworthy as well as the fact that Australia is very far behind in terms of glazing materials used when compared to the rest of the developed world.

The future of glazing in Australia is looking towards more technical products. This means glazing products from overseas will be more common place. Express Glass has witnessed this growing trend over the past 10 years as Australia’s manufacturing of technical glass has dwindled.

The trend for overseas glass technology will increase as thermally broken / technical window and façade framing is slowly introduced into Australia. These glazing technologies have spectacular energy saving benefits.

Global advancements in glass provide better performance, predominantly through a wider choice of external appearance and degrees of reflectance, ensuring specific building requirements can be met. Due to Australia’s general decline in manufacturing, there is a severe underinvestment in these new technologies at a local level.

Australian glaziers and their customers have enjoyed a continuity of supply until now and industry changes have put pressure on local glass providers to source quality glass products, especially for glass repair and replacement. This situation presents a problem for existing buildings that need to replace or update sections of their façades – there are no locally produced solutions to repairing these façades on a ‘like for like’ basis. New glass alternatives, which perform far better than previous options, must now be considered – but with such high demand from new building construction, and importation delays, delivery times are long. Obviously, this is not the best situation to be in if your building has a broken window or section and you do not want an unprofessional, patchwork look.

Better performing façades and windows mean harder to replace panels. Expert glaziers with access to local and international glazing products are required.

About Express Glass 

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