Thermal Break Technology Could Help Improve
Buildings' Energy Performance
December 11, 2009
Finding ways to retrofit building enclosures for energy efficiency
and sustainability was the was theme of yesterday's Building Enclosure
Technology and Environment Council (BETEC) Symposium, which took
place in Washington, D.C., and one key point raised involved the
benefits of thermal break technologies. Upon discussing energy improvements
to glass, one member of the audience pointed out, "We seem
to not be embracing aggressively strong thermal break technology
It seems like you're still [putting up solid aluminum frames
in buildings today
why are we not getting thermal break technology
in the curtainwall?"
According to Dave Hendrickson, a member of the market team with
Technoform Bautec NA Inc., until recently the country has had a
perceived ample domestic supply of energy resources, at low costs
compared to other countries.
"As a result of low energy costs, thermal break products did
not have the attention of building owners and designers as they
do now," Hendrickson tells USGNN.com. "As the supply
of energy resources becomes more scarce and heating and cooling
costs increase, the building industry is becoming more aware of
the need to supply thermally efficient products to meet changing
local, state and national thermal building codes."
During yesterday's symposium, Dudley McFarquhar of McFarquhar Group
agreed that thermal break technology in frames could indeed improve
energy performance. He suggested that architects may need more education
on the benefits of these systems, as many may shy away because of
a perception that deeper frames can hamper vision. However, he adds,
"I think as you move forward certainly thermal systems are
the direction we're going in."
Hendrickson says there are indeed a number of benefits when it comes
to thermal breaks, including thermal efficiency of doors, windows,
curtainwall system designs and glazing technology.
"As energy costs rise, thermal performance is more important
than ever. Thermally broken products reduce energy consumption,
which in turn helps our environment," says Hendrickson. "Some
thermal break material, such as polyamide struts and warm-edge spacers,
offer the architect or designer more freedom in designing products
that not only meet the building's structural, thermal and aesthetic
needs of today, but allow them to specify products that meet aggressively
changing code requirements in the coming years."
He adds that the building and construction industry is already starting
to see traditionally non-thermal parts of the country, such as the
deep south and the warm western states, using thermally broken products.
"While the percentage of thermal glazing and thermal products
in these areas may be small now, the trend is certainly on the rise.
There is no doubt that the industry is seeing a huge surge in changing
building codes, which directly affects all of us," Hendrickson
says. "The Department Of Energy is one of many driving forces
for these changes, which will help us meet national and global expectations
for energy efficiency in all aspects of our economy."
Adding that energy use in buildings accounts for nearly 40 percent
of all energy use in the United States, Hendrickson says, "With
the use of higher performing thermal products, we can all reap associated
energy, environmental and financial benefits."
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