Building Better Cities with Glass Technology

The glass skyscraper, a global symbol of modernity, has become today’s most popular form of architecture. However as more of these towers rise across the world, questions around energy efficiency and carbon emissions cannot be overlooked. According to the United Nations, 40% of the world's energy consumption and around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to buildings and these all-glass towers are often prime culprits for energy waste. In late April, NYC Mayor De Blasio brought even further heat to the subject by stating he planned to “introduce legislation to ban the glass and steel skyscrapers that have contributed so much to global warming."

The problem with inefficient glass buildings is that their windows conduct roughly five times more heat than traditional walls leading to a greater need for air conditioning when it’s hot, and heat loss during the winter. With the average temperature rising each year, further overheating glass buildings this drives up the need for air conditioning. As urban populations expand around the world the demand for space, often within glass towers, continues to grow and the building boom will not be slowing down. According to a UN Environment Global Status report in 2017, they predict that by 2060, the world will add 2.5 TRILLION square feet of buildings, or an area equal to the entire current global building stock. The environmental impact of this scale of development without changes to increase efficiency is incalculable.

There is a reason however that developers continue to build these glass structures. Residential and commercial tenants have come to expect the floor to ceiling windows and abundant natural light when looking for a new home or office. For commercial tenants in particular natural light is key as it has been shown to increase employee productivity and wellness. And of course, in these skyscrapers, no one wants to block a potential city or water view. Just imagine all of these new buildings in Boston’s Seaport not boasting floor to ceiling windows to showcase the amazing waterfront views, sale prices would certainly take a dip.

So how do we marry the very important need to address climate change within the construction and development industry while still building the types of glass towers most everyone has come to demand. Fortunately, there is an option that allows for both the glass needed for natural light and views while cutting down on energy use, smart glass. Developed over 10 years of research and now used in 500+ buildings, View Dynamic Glass, improves a building’s energy efficiency by up to 20% and helps downsize cooling systems. By tinting during peak cooling demand periods and blocking more than 90% of solar radiation. Another added benefit of blocking glare and heat is more usable space as people can work more comfortably closer to windows. View’s technology can reduce the perimeter office surface temperature by 10 to 15 degrees on warm days. View will create a denser floorplate, resulting in a significantly lower environmental footprint per person. 

As cities like NYC and others across the globe continue to move toward legislation on climate change affecting the construction and development industry solutions like View’s technology will allow positive growth toward efficiency while maintaining the trends that developers and building users want. As an added bonus, building users also reap the benefits of more natural light resulting in a healthier more productive workforce.

Contributor Bio

View’s vision is built around the belief that natural light is required to live a healthy and productive life, but the ordinary window is far from optimized to provide it. View’s smart glass windows let in natural light and views and enhance mental and physical well-being by significantly reducing headaches, eyestrain, and drowsiness. They also reduce glare and heat, improving the energy efficiency of buildings by up to 20 percent.

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