November 22, 2017

Glass Progress

So you think glass is just glass?

Well think again.

While you have been staring out your plain old window for the last decade, Glass has been undergoing a technological revolution.

This progress has been driven partly by man’s insatiable desire to ‘improve, and improve again’, but the key driving factor has been the building industry’s acknowledgement and embracing of the need to use better, safer, more durable – and most importantly – more Energy Efficient products in their construction. Yes, the glass industry is going Green – in a big way. And it is ironic, is it not, that glass has always had a slightly green tinge to it when viewed on its edge.

While the building industry throughout the western world has been constantly up-grading and improving Safety Standards, there has been a parallel drive in the Glazing Industry to improve its products safety performance and thermal loss and gain: old-style glass being notoriously bad at preventing heat and cold from passing straight through it – both ways.

Don’t worry ‘help is on the way’! A collaboration of scientists and technicians working on all these above problems over the years have come up with practical solutions. Even the earlier solution to the problem of heat loss and gain, Double Glazing, has been improved out of sight; I was wowed the other day on seeing venetian-style blinds within the glass of a sealed, double glazed unit. Do you realise what this means? You would never have to clean the blinds! Fabulous.

In respect to Safety: The improvements have been primarily in the strengthening of glass; prevention of shattering and breaking into dangerous shards; heat resistance in the face of fire; and the withstanding of high wind loads – ‘hurricane proofing’ in climatically challenged zones, but equally applicable in curtain walled (all glass) high-rise building.

Images sourced from


Images sourced from


In respect to Energy Efficiency: Besides the use of smart, tinted films being laminated into windows the scientists have moved towards thermochromics, a passively responsive technology where the optical properties of the glass change in response to heat (appearing to darken in the sun), and electrochromic glass that requires voltage to similarly create a gradual tint to dark grey. This latter system allows the glass to be controlled by a ‘smart’ building system, or overridden by an actual human.

Clever stuff, all of which has devoured billions of dollars in research and development funds over the years, and all, ultimately, to better our comfort in the buildings in which we spend so much of our time. Maybe we should just get outdoors more!

Glass Progress was last modified: September 15th, 2013 by Cedric & Rachel