Volume 35, Number 8, August 2000



I Give Up

final thoughts on selling colored glass


by Dez Farnady

Last month in a column titled “Behind the Rainbow,” I provided you with a mathematics lesson in counting the many colored glass combinations available from major glass manufacturers. I concluded with the claim that I could come up with more than 15,000 color combinations using currently available glass products. I still stand by that statement. But I may have been a little arrogant when I said, “in the future I will show you the easy way through this swamp of colors.” Well, I lied—there may not be an easy way.

The key to the glass color selection process is the knowledge that performance glass products are designed to accomplish two major functions: to maximize light transmission and minimize heat gain. Glass colors have little or no effect on heat loss issues. As wavelength-selective color filters, colored glass products try to transmit the blue-green end of the rainbow to maximize the light transmission, while absorbing or blocking the red end to minimize the heat gain.

All we really need to know is that there are only five basic glass color options to choose from. Option number one is clear glass, which lets in both light and heat. If what you need is light and you can afford the air conditioning, you can stop reading right here. Choice number two, the oldest, and much beloved for its color neutrality, is the worst performer — gray. It is color neutral because it blocks the full spectrum, so while it cuts out a lot of heat, it cuts out even more light. And then it radiates the absorbed heat back into the building. Number three, bronze, is a warmer-looking improvement on gray, but it is not available in many shades. Four and five are the new, interesting colors. Four, the older of the two, is green and five is blue. Both offer several shades and options.

My simplistic solution is to recommend you offer clients the choice of one of the five colors before you give him or her any other options. Then you only have to deal with the grays or the blues, that is, all of the shades of the selected color.

wpe15.jpg (3343 bytes)   Dez Farnady is manager of architectural products for ACI Distribution in Santa Clara, CA. His column appears monthly.


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