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Contents | Acknowledgment | Executive summary | Background | What is HPBFs? | Overview of this website  


This study focuses on advanced building fašades that use daylighting, sun control, ventilation systems, and dynamic systems. A quick perusal of the leading architectural magazines, or a discussion in most architectural firms today will eventually lead to mention of some of the innovative new buildings that are being constructed with all-glass fašades. Most of these buildings are appearing in Europe, although interestingly U.S. A/E firms often have a leading role in their design. This "emerging technology" of heavily glazed fašades is often associated with buildings whose design goals include energy efficiency, sustainability, and a "green" image.

While there are a number of new books on the subject with impressive photos and drawings, there is little critical examination of the actual performance of such buildings, and a generally poor understanding as to whether they achieve their performance goals, or even what those goals might be. Even if the building "works" it is often dangerous to take a design solution from one climate and location and transport it to a new one without a good causal understanding of how the systems work.

In addition, there is a wide range of existing and emerging glazing and fenestration technologies in use in these buildings, many of which break new ground with respect to innovative structural use of glass. It is unclear as to how well many of these designs would work as currently formulated in California locations dominated by intense sunlight and seismic events. Finally, the costs of these systems are higher than normal fašades, but claims of energy and productivity savings are used to justify some of them. Once again these claims, while plausible, are largely unsupported.

There have been major advances in glazing and fašade technology over the past 30 years and we expect to see continued innovation and product development. It is critical in this process to be able to understand which performance goals are being met by current technology and design solutions, and which ones need further development and refinement.

The primary goal of this study is to clarify the state-of-the-art of the performance of advanced building fašades so that California building owners and designers can make informed decisions as to the value of these building concepts in meeting design goals for energy efficiency, ventilation, productivity and sustainability.