During USGBC – Nebraska, Flatwater Chapter’s monthly lunch and learn program, three members of the BranchPattern team, Stuart Shell and Jimmy Rohr from our Building Science team, and David Repair from our Engineering team, were excited to co-present “Glazed and Confused: How to Design Fenestration for Comfort and Health” for a well-attended, lively, mid-January audience.
The team’s brief presentation provided perspective from each team member’s unique area of expertise. However, the real value of the event was when BranchPattern opened the floor to questions, comments and discussion on concerns surrounding the “common enemy” of high-performance design: the glass wall. (Also known as a curtain wall or storefront.)
Topics discussed included:
- Reviewing marketplace trends in fenestration for energy performance and comfort relative to community health and occupant satisfaction.
- Utilizing resources to assess the health impacts of different fenestration designs.
- Understanding the health benefits and risks of operable windows to allow responsible design integration.
- Discovering how glare is currently quantified, and how to employ active and passive glare control to reduce eye strain.
While many love the transparency and connection to the outdoors that is possible with a modern curtain wall, the BranchPattern experts led the discussion to the conclusion that this aesthetic achievement is not without costs. While modern unitized systems can result in great energy performance for large glass buildings, the spectacular aesthetics can sometimes come at the expense of occupant comfort due to changes in temperature and/or glare from the sun. Additionally, an often-overlooked compromise that comes with glass is our need for privacy and psychological safety when we are indoors.
Despite the drawbacks, curtain wall and storefront systems can also solve many problems for enclosure performance. They are relatively airtight, durable, water-resistant and provide excellent views. Thus, explaining the draw for designers to use them.
BranchPattern would like to thank USGBC – Nebraska Flatwater Chapter and look forward to more opportunities to collaborate in the future.
About USGBC Nebraska Flatwater
USGBC Nebraska Flatwater works to serve as a catalyst for the change in the state by promoting green building practices, technologies, policies and standards through partnerships with other organizations. USGBC Nebraska Flatwater advocates USGBC and the LEED rating system on a local level. We organize building tours for projects that incorporate the aspects of sustainable design; have members who speak at events and award ceremonies; and work to educates the community and members of important events relevant to our mission statement.