High-Performance Commercial Building Façades
There is a significant and growing interest in the use of highly-glazed façades in commercial buildings. Large portions of the façade or even the entire façade are glazed with relatively high transmittance glazing systems, and typically with some form of sun control as well. With origins in Europe the trend is expanding to other regions, including the United States. A subset of these designs employ a second layer creating a double envelope system, which can then accommodate additional venting and ventilation practices. The stated rationale for use of the these design approaches varies but often includes a connection to occupant benefits as well as sustainable design associated with daylighting and energy savings. As with many architectural trends, understanding the reality of building performance in the field as compared to design intent is often difficult to ascertain. We have been particularly interested in this emerging trend because prior simulation studies have shown that it should be technically possible to produce an all-glass façade with excellent performance although it is not a simple challenge. The published solutions are varied enough and sufficiently complex that we undertook a year-long international review of advanced façades to better understand the capabilities and limitations of existing systems and the tools and processes used to create them. This is also intended to create a framework for addressing the missing tools, technologies, processes and data bases that will be needed to turn the promise of advanced façades into realities. This summary, available as a PDF file and a web site, reports those findings.