Glass Facades: How Much Harmful for Indian Climate?

May 26, 2020

In India, we often see glass facades profusely being implemented everywhere, predominantly in the big cities. The trend is still upward, and not only private commercial builders, most of the new Government buildings are also adopting it.

Glass panels outside, supporting frames of aluminium from inside, fastened by steel cleats and high-strength screws with the concrete or steel structure of the building. Both the glass panels and the supporting frames (even frameless facades are available) can be of different types in thickness and sizes. Techniques of fixing also varies widely. Nice to eyes while the sky’s blue reflects on the glass and impart sophistication on the overall look of the building.

Glasses used in facades are of varying thickness. They range from as less as 6-8 mm for small panel sizes to 12-16 mm thickness, or even higher for big sized, frameless spider glazing.

Glass facades have few advantages over conventional brick-mortar walls. They are lighter and thereby reduces the cost of building’s foundation to some extent. Also, use of them makes the construction faster. But the flip-side of the coin is much more dangerous.

The external glass walls of a building trap the sun’s heat in the building. This, in turn, increases the temperature inside the buildings.

The use of glass facades impacts the price of a building in many ways. First, the cost of constructing a glass façade is much higher than the brick-mortar external walls (starting from 6-7 times to even higher). Then, to regulate the temperature of a building with glass facade a costlier and more complex system of ventilation and air-conditioning needs to be devised and installed. To run that system, the power requirement also surges to an extent higher than the requirement without the complex systems in place.

Also, the acoustic capability of a building gets reduced by glass facades as more noise pass through the glass walls in comparison to the brick walls. Hence acoustic treatment of rooms often becomes necessary.

Together all these does nothing but increase the cost of construction and the price of the property. Naturally, these costs are bound to be embedded in to the price of the final product and finally the common citizens end up paying for the same.

Not only cost, use of external glass facades impacts nature, too. Increase in power consumption leads to faster eradication of natural fuel resources. The heat reflected by the glass outside is also more than the brick walls, hence the surrounding area’s temperature go on increasing if there are many such buildings in a locality. Also, incidents of birds obstructing with glasses are common as reflection on glasses makes them confused while flying.

Be it increase in price of real-estate or the environmental impact, are those really worthy enough in country like India? Brick-mortar walls also can be decorated well with good architectural planning and choice of suitable shades of the external paints. Instead of using glass by just mimicking the practice of some colder and economically developed countries we can have various famous emblems or cultural stuffs of our country sculpted, as a depiction of honour to those, on the external brick-walls of high-rises.

Central and State Governments along with the real-estate regulatory bodies should come forward immediately and enact strict regulations on use of glass facades in warm weather regions of the country. This will be a big tread towards releasing the price pressure of real-estates to some extent as well as safeguarding the nature in a better way.

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