Walk through any modern city street these days and you are likely to see glass fronted buildings everywhere. Its pleasing appearance and ability to harness natural light to reduce electricity consumption makes glass the material of choice for contemporary architects. And with global demand for sustainable buildings set to double in 2018, it will only grow in popularity.
However, for specifiers it presents significant challenges when it comes to heating. Buildings that are made up of glazed facades can experience high levels of heat loss, which can be especially problematic during the winter months. On the flip side, glass buildings can turn into greenhouses in the summertime, making it hot and uncomfortable for occupants.
Also, they are vulnerable to condensation build up, and without the right balance between interior humidity and outdoor temperature, this can develop into an ongoing complication.
This is why it’s so important to carefully consider heating and ventilation in the areas where glazed facades are used.
When choosing a façade heating system, you need to think about its core use – will it provide spacing heating, limit heat loss, eliminate condensation or provide cooling or ventilation? For some buildings you may find that a combination of all of them is required. This needs to be considered at the early design stages as it will dictate which solution will be most effective. By taking a strategic approach to HVAC specification, a system can be introduced which harnesses the benefits of a glass façade and mitigates the potential downsides. Equally, by planning in the heating at the design phase, a solution which saves on floor space can be chosen – a key benefit for commercial landlords.
Trench heating is generally considered to be the ideal solution for façade heating.
Due to its availability in a large range of depths, widths, and lengths, it has the flexibility to cater to the needs of most builds. What’s more, as a ‘hidden’ solution, trench heating can be installed in front of floor-to-ceiling windows without disturbing the aesthetics. In fact, by choosing the right grill design, trench installation can even amplify the décor of a building.
Certain trench systems can feature the additional function of ventilation, and sometimes even cooling. With air quality, both indoor and outdoor, hitting the headlines, this is a serious consideration for any specifier. By choosing a trench product which offers both heating and ventilation, two needs can be met with one solution.
However, as versatile as trend heating can be there are still times when it will not be suitable for certain applications. These include when floor voids are either too shallow or are completely solid, or where construction costs for creating trench channels are prohibitive.
In these instances, low-level free standing perimeter heating can provide effective, glazed façade and space heating and even meet LST requirements, all without impacting the visual feel of a space.
Both trench and perimeter heating have strong efficiency benefits. Certain types contain an ultra-fast Low-H2O element which is either hidden under the grille or within the radiator casing. This means that only a tenth of the water is required to heat the system when compared to standard, steel-panel radiators, so energy bills for the building can be reduced by up to 16 per cent.
Glazed facades create a contemporary look as well as being a sustainable choice for commercial buildings, but they do have their challenges. By working closely with a heating systems provider at the early stages of a project you can ensure the most effective solution is installed.
For more information about how to choose the perfect glazed façade heating system for your project, download our free Façade Heating eGuide.
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