How can we make our façades more sustainable?

How can we make our façades more sustainable?

The global construction glass market is expected to grow in the forecast period of 2020 to 2025 with a CAGR of 3.1 per cent, and is expected to reach $ 57,850 million by 2025. The global façade market is expected to witness a CAGR of 6.40 per cent from 2021 to 2026. The introductio...

The global construction glass market is expected to grow in the forecast period of 2020 to 2025 with a CAGR of 3.1 per cent, and is expected to reach $ 57,850 million by 2025. The global façade market is expected to witness a CAGR of 6.40 per cent from 2021 to 2026. The introduction of smart façades integrated with thermo-bimetals is expected to drive growth in coming years. Several architectural companies are also laying emphasis on the development of modern, eco-friendly façade designs for overcoming limitations pertaining to excess heat control and soundproofing, thereby representing one of the key trends in the global façade market. CW organised a virtual roundtable on the topic to delve deeper into current trends, innovations, latest advancements, limitations, and more, in the glass and façades market. What’s driving growth? Increasing urbanisation and the growing consumer inclination towards aesthetically appealing building designs are among the key drivers for the global glass and façade market. “Based on end-use requirements and how the market is moving after the pandemic, commercial buildings are the leaders in glass demand, followed by residential,” says Jatin Shah, Managing Director, Technical Due Diligence (India), Colliers. “Hotel and hospitality projects are not in the high bandwidth consumption compared to commercial assets.” uPVC and aluminium are materials being widely used in glass façades. In terms of consumption, geographically, Southern India sees 40 per cent consumption, followed by Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal. The future for the market is bright as India is attracting a lot of investments from many funds, notes Shah. Trending innovations Double-glazed glass and solar panel-based façades are some recent market trends. “Solar panel-based façades are going to be the future in the façade space,” notes Azhaguvel Ramalingam, Senior Director-Hyderabad Operations Projects & Development Services, JLL India. “Various coloured tints of glass are entering the market as well. Vision panels are witnessing good demand when it comes to aesthetics.” Dire need for sustainability More than ever before, there is now a dire need for sustainable buildings. Green building certifications also emphasise the need to maintain energy-efficiency, thermal comfort and sufficient natural daylight in buildings. How can glass and façades play a role in each of these? “Forty per cent of the energy produced is consumed for running a building. We have a great liability, which has to be resolved by selecting an efficient façade, the right glaze on the glass, selecting the right material, and also how it is fixed on to the building,” avers Ravishankar Subramanian, R&D Head, Dow Consumer Solutions. “There should not be any metal capping, which will help trap the heat coming inside the building. The structural glazed system using silicone should be used more.” Manufacturing needs for high performance Increasingly, talk of norms revolves around higher light transmission to reduce energy consumption by artificial lighting. “We have started using second skin and double glazing because light ingress in buildings causes glare,” notes GK Venkatesh, Promoter, Nemcon Façade Consult. “However, if we bring in certain possibilities during manufacturing to reduce glare inside the building, it could give us buildings that perform much better.” Villa Ortiga is using double-glazed glass in all its buildings. “This is not a specification but a norm,” says Sarabjit Singh, Founder and Architectural Designer. A lot of the budget goes into glazing as it enhances the user experience and durability of buildings. “The good thing is that the change is happening from the consumer end,” he observes. “Most glass façades, panels and glazing are still imported from abroad, which pushes them to be premium.” Safety, security, fire-resistance concerns The standards and norms regarding glass have changed. For fire-safety, “we need to use automatic vent opening systems, which will ensure that the smoke is vented out in case of a fire,” says Venkatesh. “Fire-resistant materials should not only be used just with glass and façades but also in the systems used to fix them on buildings. We have to change glass lamination and the glazing should also be fire-safe.” The system you choose is indeed very critical. “One material does not decide the fire,” adds Subramanian. “We have to ensure product quality for all the materials used.” “All the buildings we have been designing at JLL have different smoke exert systems,” shares Ramalingam. “The moment there is a fire, the separate system will take up all the smoke and push it out. We have been using fire-resistant glass in buildings as well.” During selection, one product is selected; but when it comes to application, there are a lot of applicators. And these applicators are not properly educated on the proper way of application, notes Mitu Mathur, Director, GPM Architects & Planners. “As an industry, education throughout the spectrum is very important.” The role of adhesives in façades People are now talking about the practical aspects of façades so that our buildings look different and are dynamic. Here, Mathur says, “New developments need to be promoted by façade vendors and applicators. Moving away from mechanical systems and getting more into chemical systems is something one should look at. We were among the first ones to use the chemical system to put up façades in one of our commercial projects. We have been promoting the use of adhesives, especially because they are perfect for places with high humidity. They help buildings to have a longer lifespan.” Limitations in codes, execution, and others While the market is working towards sustainability, some loopholes need to be addressed to cater for high performance of buildings. Speaking from an architect’s perspective, Mathur says, “Especially with government projects, when we specify a product or system, three to four years have passed already by the time they come to execution, and the specification becomes redundant.” She adds that the firm has been trying to talk to the Government to ensure that any project over Rs 5 billion is done in two phases. “Civil tenders should be done separately and finishing and façades separately, considering that most tenders are on an EPC basis now.” She also lays emphasis on the need to promote the many small-scale Indian companies that are coming up. In agreement, Ramalingam adds that in most large projects, design development happens four to five years earlier, construction takes another four to five years and in the meanwhile you have a lot of innovative designs coming up, which are difficult to incorporate. “If you look at any other market, before you procure systems, all the drawings for the design are completed and it goes under the general contracting model,” he points out. “Unlike India, in the international market, they don’t go for separate packages; all of it is in a lumpsum total package.” In Venkatesh’s view, all the elements used to put up façades should be of good quality. “SS anchors and brackets are a few primary requirements to ensure sustainability of glazing.” When a project goes for tendering and commercial negotiations, the first thing brought to the management level is using materials to reduce the budget and take a chance with the quality, he observes. “People don’t know the difference between various products and materials that can be used in projects.” Sometimes, as a decision-maker or specifier, you can demand a warranty for your project. This puts the onus on the user and material manufacturer, notes Subramanian. We do not have standardised codes for façades and materials. “It is a highly unorganised sector and, hence, it puts pressure on material manufacturers who want to put up a system that is sustainable. Being among the stakeholders, there are challenges. For instance, the standards do not talk about Indian climatic conditions and we need to start talking about these to make the industry safer and sustainable.” Checks and balances Checks and balances from start to finish are a must so that the system is in place during the project. So, a lot of problems and mistakes can be avoided, notes Ramalingam. The final designs for a project may change on the engineering and structural system fronts, but from the aesthetic perspective, they mostly remain the same as designed by the architect. The industry needs to be more organised and have its checks and balances in place; specifications and codes have to be clearly written. “We need to imbibe these changes and impose them; we cannot expect change until this happens,” says Shah. “The industry needs to create these standards, educate people, skill people who work on façade installation, and all the parts required to fix a façade need to be tested for all parameters. The transparency, upskilling and having the right code and specification are extremely important. We need to realise that a façade consultant is an extremely important consultant. We cannot have a project without a façade consultant in place. A lot of development is already happening and we all need to walk together and take the industry to the next level.” “We need to start asking for what we want,” states Venkatesh. “Let’s not wait for norms to be included and announced; let us frame the norms.” “In the design and build tenders we work on, we try and involve the façade consultant before the specifications are laid out,” says Mathur. “So that when it comes to design and build, the leverage is only given to the structural design and not any kind of aesthetic or façade systems that are being put in place.” When one puts the onus on anyone, their ability comes into play, which helps get what you want. “This puts a lot of onus on us as a company when we supply,” says Subramanian. “We won’t give a warranty if somebody doesn’t give us a proper design review, choose the right product and right applications. We have set up a project management services team as part of our qualifications to give a warranty for a project as it is an industry need because most of the industry is unorganised till today.” Key expectations from users When asked about the key expectations users have from material manufacturers in terms of services, supply reliability and warranty, this is what our panellists had to say: Jatin Shah: Suppliers and manufacturers need to declare part of the system and not their product. Environmental product declaration is important as well. Mitu Mathur: Education of applicators and architects regarding new materials and ways of application. GK Venkatesh: We need to start asking for what we want. - SERAPHINA D’SOUZA

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