Should the Industry Stand Up for Window Walls?
Arriving in Toronto for Win-Door North America, the industry is getting a chilly reception–at least from the Canadian Broadasting Corp. This week's headlines from CBC News offer dire predictions of widespread window failures on the many recently-built glass-walled condos here.
The window walls of the many high-rise buildings constructed in Toronto in recent years are said to be less energy efficient than more traditional materials. The glass-skinned condos are described as "throwaway buildings" that will need to be significantly retrofitted in 15 to 25 years, "but perhaps even earlier." And though window walls have been popular with condo buyers for the views they offer, developers primarily chose this type of construction because of the lower cost, the CBC article also suggests.
With all the construction that Toronto has seen in the past decade, I would not be surprised to hear there have been problems with some of these condos. The CBC report, however, offers what I'd describe more or less as an across-the-board condemnation of curtain wall/window wall construction in high-rise buildings. And in the initial reports, I would note there seems to be no comments from glass supporters. No architects, engineers, manufacturers, etc., involved in these projects are quoted, and frankly, I find it hard to believe there are not a few out there who would stand by their work.
So I thought I would use this week's Talk to spur some response. Take a look at some of the CBC coverage, post a comment below and tell us what you think. This is probably more of an issue for those involved in the commercial and architectural markets, but do you think the industry needs to stand up to this type of criticism in the press? If you're at Win-Door, by the way, stop by the Window & Door booth. We'd love to hear from you in person too.
Survey Results as of 11/28/2011 :
Should the industry respond to press reports condemning window walls?
We got some thoughtful responses this week, which I hope you'll read. You may also find it interesting to go back to the original CBC reports and see the online feedback from readers there. Most of those responses paint with a pretty broad brush. No one seems to suggest that maybe some of the glass condos of Toronto have been built well or that all building materials require maintenance and/or possibly replacement at a certain point. None of the responses seem to acknowlege any advances that have been made in energy efficient technologies. Some comments seem to think condo owners are ridiculous for enjoying their views.
Personally, I don't know the industry should necessarily respond to one negative article or series like this, but I think the flurry of reports suggest we need to do some work. Perhaps, we, as an industry, need to do to more to get the message out about the benefits of windows, doors, skylights and glass. It can be energy efficient. We cannot let the benefits of views, natural light, ventilation, etc., be dismissed as luxuries.