Integration and Innovation: Creating Sustainable Facades

With the emerging trends in material technology, architectural design is getting highly competitive. As more developers and owners attempt iconic buildings, architects and structural engineers are increasingly faced with the challenges of how to build complex shapes along with intricate and highly sustainable facades. Well-engineered facades can define a city skyline both in the day and night, and greatly improve a building performance.

Traditionally, HVAC equipment and system sizing are largely dependent on heat flow through the façade. If a façade system can help the building to reduce heat gain, the air conditioning systems will also use less energy to cool the building down. Therefore an energy efficient façade should have a high thermal performance.

With mechanical ventilation, lighting and electrical appliances forming a significant part of a building’s energy use, an energy efficient façade can achieve tremendous savings for the developer and owner.

While the carbon footprint of a building may be one parameter, the measurement of the embodied energy used to construct and run the building may be a better indicator. Ways of determining how construction materials can contribute to an energy efficient façade is to understand which materials can ‘save energy’ before, during and even after construction and its use within the built environment.

The design and fabrication stage can help save energy via a smart selection of materials. This may entail not only the design and fabrication of the material itself but also that of the façade to make it energy efficient.

By understanding your standard panel modulations, like glass or aluminium, we can reduce wastage and optimize the façade design accordingly. For example if a glass panel is of a typical modulation, the need to increase any structure or produce additional structure to support an oversized panel is eliminated.

To have an energy efficient façade, it may mean considering the use of recycled or recyclable materials where possible. Materials like glass, aluminium, steel, concrete and some plastics, can contribute to lowering the energy used in its manufacturing process.

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September 28, 2011

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Mimi Daraphet

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