Sustainable construction is a trend that won’t ever go out of fashion.
As Australians become more budget conscious, affordable eco-friendly buildings are in style, with homeowners favouring homes that are sustainable enough to meet a multitude of needs.
Restoring old resources, smaller spaces, a preference for natural materials and passive design principles have become a staple of Australian housing. And newer homes are all the better for it.
This revolution in sustainable building materials, methods and technology is one that extends far beyond the limitations of bricks and mortar.
Eco-friendly standards are at an all-new high. Here’s how you can make your home more sustainable with window glazing.
The Benefits of Window Glazing
Window glazing is a core part of sustainable homes.
Because windows are a major source of significant heat loss in winter and unwanted heat in summer, investing in energy efficiency comes with big benefits.
Some of these include:
- Improved thermal performance: Double-glazing boosts the windows’ thermal performance to prevent heat loss and better maintain your home’s temperature to make it warmer in winter and cooler in summer
- Reduces energy usage: Less need for heating and cooling systems means a reduced energy consumption, which saves on power bills
- Eco-friendly: Reduces your home’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change
- Reduces noise: High performance double-glazing can reduce outside noise by up to 60%
- Increases security: Double-glazing makes it harder for intruders to break glass or pry windows open
Windows in Building Design
Windows are the eyes of a house.
It’s these entry points that invite attention from outside and in your home, including how much sunlight and heat is held.
Homeowners don’t often realise the importance of windows in design. However, these powerful features are one of the most crucial parts in sustainable building construction because they provide light and ventilation.
About 40% of a household’s energy usage is dedicated to heating and cooling. 87% of heat gained is through the building’s windows.
Larger or too many windows result in a less efficient home environment.
But homes with fewer, strategically placed, double-glazed windows can significantly benefit from the value of energy-efficient window systems.
As a rule of thumb, windows shouldn’t make up more than 25% of your home’s total floor area. Once you go beyond that, insulation in the walls and roof aren’t likely to compensate for the heat exchange.
Single-Glazed vs Double-Glazed
To keep inside temperatures more stable, homeowners have a choice of single, double or triple-glazed windows.
The core difference between them is the amount of space between panes, types of spacers and glass used.
Typically, double-glazed windows have a sealed air gap between two panes, which adds another layer of insulation and thermal resistance. Air gaps are best filled with argon gas, as it’s a slow-moving gas that helps to slow down thermal energy.
The best glazing and glass options for a sustainable home include:
Low Emissivity Glass: Low-e glass has a special low emissivity coating which is measured across a scale from zero to one with one representing the highest emissivity. This type of glass can reduce the amount of heat conducted through the glass by 30%, also reducing glare and preventing damage to inside furnishings.
Hard coat low-e is more commonly used in single-glazed windows and is durable and difficult to scratch. Soft coat is used in double-glazed windows. Both coating styles for low-e glass can come in high or low transmissions, depending on your lighting requirements.
Low Energy Ratings: Windows with a low U-Value rating are better for heat loss.
Passive design is crucial to get the best window performance and maximise your home’s efficiency.
Factors such as the location and orientation of the windows affect your glass and glazing needs. You also need to consider how the windows open.
Drawing on passive design principles can cut back your energy usage costs by more than half. Windows and glazing, thermal mass, insulation, shading, orientation of the property and ventilation through well-placed windows and doors are key components of passive design.
A well-designed home has many tools and design methods to reduce energy use and dependency on power. Sustainable architecture benefits you, your finances, health and the environment. How will you be embracing the green-building movement?