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What glaziers need to know about maximizing green building labels credits

Sustainability Saint-Gobain
If there’s one question architects ask about glass more than any other, it’s without a doubt: “How can we get better performance?” Whether it’s a better U-value, better thermal performance or better visible light transmission, architects seem to be constantly looking to push the building envelope further. In many cases, these requests are driven by the stringent requirements to achieve green building label certifications such as LEED, DGNB, BREEAM or HQE.

The Green Building Council offers multiple pathways to earning points to achieve green label certifications, and glass selection has a role to play in many of those choices. While it may seem that getting the most energy efficiency from your glazing means sacrificing performance in other areas, today’s multi-tasking glass products mean that you can bundle performance factors to earn more credits.

A glazing combination for every performance requirement

Sustainable construction label certification has become an expectation for an increasing number of commercial projects. But that doesn’t mean achieving such certification is cut and dry. As they continue to evolve— ie. addenda updated for LEED v4 as recently as January 2019—glazing contractors must stay on top of this evolving sustainability guideline to serve as a knowledgeable resource for their clients.

Perhaps the most important message to pass along to owners and designers is that no matter what performance requirement they’re trying to achieve, product manufacturers can help create a combination to get there. This is even true with combinations that once seemed to offer limited choice.

Take fire-rated glazing, for example. While yesterday’s fire-rated glazing may have obstructed views, today’s products can provide the protection required by code, the minimum energy performance required to earn LEED Energy and Atmosphere credits—all while offering unhindered views and daylighting needed to secure points toward that Indoor Environmental Quality credit. More importantly (to your client), these combinations can be achieved without sacrificing on aesthetics.

Think of it this way: Insulating glass units provide excellent energy conservation, but they also provide the option of coupling different glass lites in various configurations. So, if you’re looking to match your fire-rated glazing with a specific aesthetic element in other non-fire-rated areas, for example, the solution may be as simple as using an outboard lite that matches that aesthetic.