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Can the Glass Industry Benefit from ASHRAE's WWR Proposal?

The glass industry's been buzzing about the ASHRAE 189.1 proposal for the greater part of the summer, and rightly so. It proposes reducing the prescriptive glazing area limit from 40 to 30 percent of the exterior wall area, which many (myself included) consider a shortsighted and oversimplified reaction. Such constraints overlook the measurably positive impact of windows and views on people, and could negatively limit daylight transfer and other important aspects of building design. But, is our industry's reaction itself too predictable and oversimplified?

The understandable fear is that a restriction on glass in the exterior wall of prescriptive-path buildings would mean less glass is ordered. In an economy inching towards recovering, this could setback job and company growth. 

Given the potential adverse impacts of reducing the WWR, this has been one of the most commented on ASHRAE proposals. Over 72 public comments from 57 different commenters asked for a withdrawal of the proposal. According to the July issue of USGlass, the typical proposal receives between five and 15 comments. This response is one to be proud of. But let's take it a step farther. How we can leverage the WWR proposal for industry growth?

ASHRAE's goal is to reduce energy consumption in buildings, yet there's no reason glass can't be a part of the answer. Whether it's new high-performance glazing options, more sophisticated and holistic approaches to designing buildings for energy efficiency, or recalibrating glass in buildings, the door is open for innovation in the glass industry.

As Gensler's Loren Supp said in a panel discussion I attended a few weeks back, “Increased standards create innovation. We could actually end up with more glass in buildings.” 

Glass in buildings isn't going anywhere. What are some better ways to get to envelope efficiency with glass and framing than by restricting the window-to-wall ratio?

Image: Free Digital Photos.

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