Volume 21, Issue 2 - April/May/June 2007

From the Editor
Green Again

How important is green in today’s design environment? The theme of this year’s AIA Convention is Growing Beyond Green.

Most people are aware of the role that glass can play in green design and energy efficiency. Single-lite construction has virtually disappeared in residential construction, and commercial construction increasingly takes into account how the glass in a project can affect the size of the HVAC system and provide other monetary trade-offs. The glass industry has been proactive in developing more energy-efficient products.

But recently in a conversation with Arthur Ulens, CEO of Japanese-based glass manufacturer AGC and Belgian-based glass manufacturer Glaverbel, I learned that this is only half the story.

He pointed out that today the energy required to melt a ton of glass is less than 10 percent of what it was a hundred years ago. Since the 1970s, CO2 emissions per ton of glass melted have been reduced by more than 60 percent. 

He said that rather than sitting on its laurels, the architectural glass industry has continued to improve its green credentials. And he told me that it was imperative for glass manufacturers to continue developing products that provide increased comfort while decreasing the energy bill.

Ulens reminds us that coatings are one of the glass industry’s biggest revolutions. Over the last decade, whether hard or soft, coatings have evolved to provide efficient solutions in terms of selectivity, solar control and, neutral aesthetics. “Coatings of the future will also be increasingly active as already initiated by photovoltaic glasses that absorb the sun’s heat and store and convert it into electricity,” he told me. He added, “With the help of nanotechnology and bionics, these new active—or intelligent—coatings will continue to play an active part in energy control and energy generation.” That’s growing beyond green. Let’s be green partners. Let’s learn from each other at the AIA convention in San Antonio and make the world a better place while we’re at it. 

by Charles Cumpston

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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