Jeff Pearson of Jack Aluminium Systems discusses the importance of considering energy efficiency, security and safety when specifying glazing systems – and why it’s so important not to compromise
Compromise can be a wonderful thing. It’s great for building working relationships, sticking to project budgets and meeting tight deadlines, but there’s one thing I always say to architects and specifiers looking for glazing systems for commercial and public sector buildings – don’t compromise! Glazing specification has never been more important. More and more architects are swapping bricks and mortar for metal and glass for their building fabric. Not only does this speed up project builds, it also makes it easier to do more of the construction offsite. It’s a great way to bring maximum daylight into commercial buildings, offices and shops as well as healthcare, education and leisure facilities. It also means that getting the glazing right is absolutely paramount – and it needs to perform. There are three top specifications for commercial glazing that you shouldn’t be compromising on.
It’s been done to death, but there’s no denying the importance of energy efficiency when creating walls of glass with curtain walling and shopfront systems. Look for thermally broken aluminium frames and low U-values, where entire products have been tested – not just the components. Really think about your application too – if it’s an office, the last thing you need is inefficient glazing that will make workers uncomfortable and especially as it’s now been proven to reduce productivity. If it’s an external wall of a shopping complex or for internal partitions though, you might get away with a non-thermal system, saving costs that can be used elsewhere in the project.
Security is always high on the agenda, no matter what the development. For shops it’s about protecting the merchandise. For schools, hospitals and medical facilities, it’s about restricting access to buildings and making sure that pupils and patients are safe. For other buildings, it’s just about making sure that the right people are inside, and the wrong people are kept out. Always check for PAS24 and Secured by Design accreditations and make sure that testing has been done on complete doorsets. Often, high-traffic entrance doors that need to be secured at all times can be vulnerable to attack. If you need something with an anti-panic opening that’s still super-secure, look for design features such as rebated low threshold and lock strike plates that help to prevent tampering. This keeps doors secure, even if it’s an emergency exit – which brings me on to the next point.
Safety on commercial buildings is absolutely crucial. Nowadays, there is advanced door technology to help ensure that in an emergency, everyone can leave the building quickly and safely, without compromising on security. Remote-access doors, which use electromagnetic doors, can be specified with back-up features so that occupants can escape, even during the event of a power cut. For double doors, clever mechanisms have been designed so that in the event of an emergency, either the master door leaf or slave door leaf can be pushed and both doors will open. These not only increase safety, but also eliminate the need for ‘managed security solutions’ where doors need to be bolted ‘out of hours’.
The best glazing combination
Some aluminium commercial glazing systems use clever engineering to create cost-effective products that incorporate these three features, so specifiers can deliver safe, warm and secure commercial projects. On your next project, make sure that these three points are really considered. Not only will end-users thank you, but it’ll also mean that your build exceeds standards and is future-proof. Future glazed buildings need great, futuristic performance levels, without compromise.
Jeff Pearson is sales and marketing director at Jack Aluminium Systems