For over four thousand years, the lustrous, hard, and inert characteristics of glass have made it one of the world’s most desirable and frequently used building materials. Glass is used in many of our everyday activities and is included in a multitude of products all around us, such as windows, doors, partitions, furniture, cookware, automotive windows and sunroofs, and food and beverage containers.
Additionally, glass can be cleaned easily with non-abrasive (and often antibacterial) cleaners, which is another reason why glass has helped us through many unfortunate public health events like epidemics and pandemics.
One of the most important glass performance measures is U-value—also known as U-factor—which measures the insulating characteristics of the glass, or how much heat flow or heat loss occurs through the glass due to the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures.
Glass is vital to the aesthetic of nearly every modern structure—increasing natural light, curbing sound, protecting against inclement weather and offering a view to the external world. While glass has always been favored for its aesthetic versatility, it has quietly and reliably evolved into a critical component that can add beauty, structural integrity and fire protection to rooms and buildings, as well.
Clear glass is extremely common and is popular in a variety of architectural design applications. However, when specifying glass to achieve a truly transparent aesthetic, design professionals know that clear glass isn’t completely clear—it has a distinct green hue when viewed under light.
Well-daylit interiors boast a range of benefits, such as occupant mood and productivity, a sense of connectivity between spaces, decreased use of artificial light and energy bills, stunning views to the outdoors and dazzling color transmission.
In recent years, glass fabricators have made significant advances in their technologies, creating a range of decorative glass applications that are increasingly specified by architects who seek distinctive, colorful or visually interesting designs.
As one of the most popular and versatile building materials used today, low-e emissivity (low-e) glass coatings can enable exceptional energy efficiency and aesthetics. But how do they work?
When designing commercial spaces, choosing the right type of glass is critical. In order to choose the right product, evaluating a glass’s aesthetic characteristics up close by viewing a glass sample is also crucial.
Sample evaluation can be a make-or-break moment in the course of your project. Do you know how to properly view glass samples or full-size mockups?
Choosing the right architectural glass is crucial to a successful project. For more informed decisions in the evaluation, selection and specification of architectural glass, Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG glass) recommends becoming familiar with the properties and benefits of the four most common glass types: low-e coated glass, clear glass, low-iron glass and tinted glass.
Imagination and creativity are critical skills that enable architects to create beautiful, vibrant and sustainable buildings. However, one aspect of successful projects that often goes under the radar is the glass specification. From project conception to completion, specifications provide a necessary “check and balance” to ensure that the proper products are being used and that current industry standards are being followed.
Achieving optimal performance of solar control low-e glass and passive low-e glass requires proper placement of low-e coatings on the glass surfaces of an insulating glass unit (IGU). Placement considerations vary depending on whether the glass is solar control low-e glass or passive low-e glass, and whether the IGU is double- or triple-glazed.
To make more informed decisions in the evaluation, selection and specification of architectural glass products, Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG glass) recommends using an installed systems cost approach. The pie chart below indicates the approximate cost percentage of fabricated glass relative to a typical installed curtain wall total cost. The table, “Fabricated Glass Options,” indicates the relatively minor cost impact of selecting various Solarban® solar control low-e coated glasses by Vitro glass on the overall installed cost.
Glass is one of today’s most versatile building materials due to its virtually unlimited aesthetic options and outstanding energy characteristics. The breadth of glass colors available is one reason why glass is so aesthetically versatile. But how does the industry ensure precise color accuracy in glass coatings? And how do you read color in glass?
Heat-treated glass provides both the durability and safety found in many of the world’s most visually breathtaking buildings.
But manufacturing heat-treated glass is a complex and multi-step process. This video provides an explanation of how insulating glass units (IGUs), spandrel glass, tempered glass and heat-strengthened glass are manufactured, courtesy of United Plate Glass in West Butler, PA.
Placement of a laminated lite within an insulating glass unit (IGU) is key to how its glazing system will perform. INSLIP and INSLOP are two commonly used terms to help designers position laminated glass properly.
Here's an explanation of how bent and laminated glass is made, courtesy of Standard Bent Glass in East Butler, PA.
First, large sheets of glass are scored into a range of end-use sizes. Then, these individual lites of glass are edged on a vertical line and sent to a large industrial washer. Next, they either get laminated or bent.
Each year, more than 600 million birds die from collisions with glass in the United States alone. Although bird-friendly building regulations continue to increase in North America, glazing options have been limited.
Here’s a quick demonstration that will give you an understanding of low-emissivity or low-e glass.
There are a wide range of glasses to choose from to meet the needs of any project. Spandrel glass is one such option.
Unlike vision glass, which is meant to be transparent, spandrel glass is designed to be opaque in order to help hide features between the floors of a building, including vents, wires, slab ends and mechanical equipment.
For years, UV light transmittance used to be thought of as the measure of a glazing material's ability to protect furnishings from fading due to sunlight exposure. Now, ISO Damage Weighted Transmittance, or Tdw-ISO, is considered the most accurate criterion for assessing potential fading damage.
When designing with glass, there are a wide range of options to choose from to create a truly unique project. One option in particular–reflective glass–has some significant aesthetic and performance benefits. Even when transparent glass is in vogue, there are specific applications when tinted, reflective glass can be the superior choice. In fact, there are even reflective glasses that provide the solar control benefits of low-e coatings.
Glass fabrication is an important part of glass specification. There are several basic types of fabricated glass, which all offer unique pros and cons. Types of glass fabrication include insulating glass units, laminated glass, opacified glass, decorative glass and more.
Understanding the solar energy spectrum is key to understanding glass coatings. Glass coatings affect the way the different parts of the solar spectrum are absorbed into, transmitted through or reflected off of glass, all of which factor into the glass' energy efficiency.
When designing with large expanses of glass, it is critical to know when the glass may need to be heat-treated for durability and/or safety. The type of processing required—heat strengthening or tempering—depends on the specific application.
Accommodating for wind and snow is one of the important upfront considerations in the design and specification process. There is a multi-step process that must be undertaken to help ensure the glass in your project is able to resist these loads.
Condensation means the IGU is working properly, serving as a thermal barrier between extremes in temperature.
While glass looks great aesthetically, it also has to meet high performance standards. An important part of performance relates to acoustics, whether it’s large, dramatic panels used for the exterior of a building, or smaller panels used to create interior partitions. When designing a project there are a number of sound-related factors you need to understand and take into consideration, including:
There are several key elements that impact the performance of an insulated glass unit. These include the primary seal thickness and width, secondary seal width, the spacer and the desiccant.
Sometimes glass breaks in a building without any obvious cause. When this occurs, it could be due to glass edge damage or surface damage from handling and glazing that then weakens the glass during high winds, building or framing system movement, vandalism or a specific type of inclusion inside the glass. There are more than 50 types of inclusions in float glass, and while the most widely discussed is a nickel sulfide stone, this type of inclusion actually occurs very rarely.
Review the Slide Share for valuable information about key glass performance terms. The slides provide an overview on common terminology used in the glass industry, including: Visible Light Transmittance (VLT), Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), Light-to-Solar Gain Ratio (LSG) and U-Value, both winter and summer.
Glass has become one of the most popular building materials used today because it offers virtually unlimited aesthetic options, combined with outstanding performance. What ends up as large, sweeping glass panels in a high-rise office building, healthcare facility, school or other construction project starts as a simple combination of sand, soda ash, limestone, dolomite and some other minor ingredients.
In How Glass is Made, From the Batch House to the Lehr we covered how glass starts as a simple combination of sand, soda ash, limestone and dolomite, moves to the batch house, enters the furnace, and then goes through the melting, fining, forming, annealing, and cooling processes.
There are three parts to the solar energy spectrum: infrared, visible and ultraviolet. Glass consequently responds to these three different types of light in three different ways: by reflecting, absorbing or transmitting it. Tints and coatings can be used to impact that response in order to improve overall glass performance.
The North American Glass Channel chart demonstrates the many different processes involved in the production of commercial glass and the capabilities of the largest channel participants from primary glass manufacturers and low-e coating manufacturers, to glass fabricators and glazing contractors.
Glass is one of the most popular and versatile building materials used today, due in part to its constantly improving solar and thermal performance. One way this performance is achieved is through the use of passive and solar control low-e coatings. So, what is low-e glass? In this section, we provide you with an in-depth overview of coatings.
A multi-step glass manufacturing process where liquid glass is formed by "floating" it on molten metal.
Understanding the solar energy spectrum is the first step in understanding how low-e coatings work.
Learn more about our full line of Low-E Glass products.
When thinking of some of the world’s most dramatic, visually breathtaking buildings, they most likely involve large expanses of glass. Before these architectural masterpieces can be created, the glass may need to be heat-treated for durability and/or safety reasons. The type of processing required—heat-strengthening or tempering—depends on the glass’ specific application.
Low-E coatings are 500 times as thin as a human hair, yet have a tremendous impact on a building's overall energy efficiency.
Learn more about our full line of Low-E Glass products.
While aesthetically versatile and offering outstanding performance, working with glass does come with some special considerations. This is especially relevant in commercial architecture, where it’s common to specify large glass panels to achieve a dramatic look. A thermal stress break is one such issue.
Some of the world’s most dramatic and visually-breathtaking buildings involve large expanses of glass. Using large, dramatic panels of insulated glass is one of today’s most popular design trends. However, there are several factors that need to be considered in order to ensure a successful project when specifying large insulating glass units.
Glass has become one of the most popular and complex building materials used today by offering virtually unlimited aesthetic options, in addition to outstanding performance. However, designing with glass does require special considerations, especially during the selection and specification process. The following provides an overview on the main points of glass building construction, with additional information and videos on specific topics in the Education Center and in-depth technical information available at vitroglazings.com.
For an easy way to understand how low-e glass coatings help keep rooms comfortable, simply look at how a thermos works.
When working with glass, one of the options to consider is the type of glass unit that will best meet the specific needs of a project. A part of the decision process is determining whether or not to use gas versus air in an insulated glass unit (IGU).