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Glass Trends Rely on Multi-functionality with Storm Protection

By Michael Ondrus, Architectural Business Development Manager, Americas, Eastman


Glass continues to dominate the world of architectural design in the United States, even as

external forces such as energy concerns, violent storms, man-made threats and glass breakage must be continually considered. The beauty of glass, with its abilities to let in light and visually connect indoor with outdoor spaces, ensures that glass will always play a significant role in design and sustainable buildings. Enhancements to glass, including the use of high-performance interlayers and coatings ensure that this favored material continues to have a bright and applicable future. But as the global economy slows, the future of architectural glass lies in the concept of multi-functionality, or glass that can achieve a number of design and code driven objectives in one product.

With the storm season upon us, thoughts of protection from our shelters seem to swirl to the front of our minds like the hurricanes we worry about. Many areas, especially along the coastline, have a mandate for buildings to have some type of storm resistance. Although there may be several options to meet code and weather a storm, one of the convenient methods is to specify and install impact resistant glazing. When glazing system has been properly vetted through the performance protocols and the glass is capable of withstanding impact and subsequent cyclical loads it is ready to protect 24/7. One of the attractive attributes of a hurricane resistant glazing system is that nothing needs to be done before the storm to ensure the protection is in place. There is also the comfort of knowing there is nothing to remove after the storm or storm season to be in compliance with local removal[i] ordinances. The key is, the glass in those window systems needs to be impact resistant and that typically means and enhanced glass like laminated glass.

When considering how to enhance the performance of glass, few architectural products pack as much power as the simple laminated glass interlayer. Saflex® and Vanceva® Polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer in laminated glass offers a slate of added benefits to glazing, which include safety, security, storm protection, acoustic performance and structural stability. In past decades, advanced interlayer products from companies like Eastman Chemical Company have furthered the science of interlayers moving from conventional to specialty products.

Many of these advanced interlayers can also be combined into one laminated glass unit or incorporated as one or more lites of an insulating glass unit to provide strength, impact resistance for hurricane and security applications such as schools and high-risk facilities.

The hygienic aspects of glass and ease and efficiency of cleaning versus more porous façade and wall coverings have also added to the multi-functional intrigue of using glass. The surface of glass has been found easy to clean with germicide and disinfecting solutions with virtually no impact on the durability of the glazing when following manufacturers’ recommended practices.

Another important multi-functional attribute relates to aesthetics, which are highly valued. Since the glass edges are exposed to varying weather conditions, the interlayers have been designed to be robust, preserving the beautiful appearance. Acoustic and safety benefits as well as an impressive range of colors are also achieved using Saflex and Vanceva interlayer systems.

While trends come and go, the “trend” of multi-functional glass has long-lasting, impactful staying power. High-performance interlayers add to the stability, design flexibility and adaptability of architectural glass. Meeting building codes, providing strength, sound damping, solar control, visual beauty and impact resistance for safety, security, storm protection and post breakage performance are all functions attainable with laminated glass when using proper design. Where once there was hesitation for use, due to engineered products, heightened awareness, changing guidelines or building safety codes; the multifunctional capability of laminated glass with Saflex and Vanceva PVB interlayers has been confirmed and accepted for commercial, residential and institution use. In the 28 years since hurricane Andrew, laminated glass for hurricane impact resistance has demonstrated its protection capability. Now coupling that capability with sound control, color options, solar control enhancements, structural performance and security performance in a multifunctional glazing is not only easy to do, it is a desired option that continues to grow. Michael Ondrus can be reached at +1 419 705 6857