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K. Norcross Blog #1: Multifunctionality

Kevin Norcross, General Manager for Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America, discusses the value of daylighting and the value it brings to our health, education and happiness. 

Early in January, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) released a report that many people in our industry are talking about: Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report.

The essence of the report was not a surprise. For every dollar invested in mitigation strategies around safety, loss prevention and disruption to everyday life, there’s an $11 benefit. And when it comes to impact resistance (specifically for hurricane winds), there’s a $10 savings for each dollar spent.

Who wouldn’t want to realize a 1,000% benefit?

Of course, in the building industry, there have always been budget concerns and constraints. You can put up a block wall and meet the fire- and impact-ratings that are needed for hurricane zones … but there’s potential for a far greater gain.

In a word, multifunctionality.

Transbay Transport Center 06
Photo Credit: James Z. Wu
Contraflam Liteflam XT120 is a walkable floor that brings daylight over 100 feet underground at the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, USA.

I’m not just talking about the benefits of all-in-one fire- and impact-rated systems solutions, or getting your fire-rated glass with integral blinds. In today’s real estate market, where aesthetics drive up the square-foot value of buildings for lease or sale, fire- and impact-rated glazing and framing increases value beyond that $10-for-$1 return.

Then there’s the qualitative benefits, the ones that are harder to measure by our industry’s standards.

When designers introduce daylighting into a space, the psychological benefits are undeniable. Office workers enjoy 10- to 25-percent better mental function and memory. Call center employees process calls 6- to 12-percent faster. Hospital stays are shorter. Students achieve higher test scores and learn 20- to 26-percent faster. Retail establishments sell more. (Up to 40 percent!)

So it’s not just about aesthetics. It’s about productivity improvement and learning improvement. It’s a quantifiable increase in resale or lease value. It’s not just a life safety issue, it’s a quality-of-life issue. When you add those benefits to real estate values as well as the savings reported by NIBS, it’s hard to defend that block wall, isn’t it?

We all know how easy it is to scope-out safety glazing. While there are many ways to meet the I-Codes that don’t involve fire- and impact-rated systems, the benefits of daylighting and multi-functionality (not to mention thermal control, design benefits, added safety and more) that go along with them add value beyond dollars and cents.