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Designing smart facades

Designing smart facades

Emerging technologies are making facades speak for the agility and dynamic attributes that define millennial buildings

Building facades, Saint gobain, Aluplex, Shueco, Glass facades
2013

More and more building facades offer particular aesthetic geometries, breaking the convention of a flat-glass box structure, and buildings with complex curves and surface treatments are achieving artistic forms. There is also an increased focus on sustainability. This means facades need to be designed to reduce interior energy costs by using sunshades and low-emissivity glass that allows natural lighting in without loss of thermal energy. There is an increased application of passive ventilation like employing double-skinned facades and other techniques, improving user experience without compromising on energy costs.


Prashanth Reddy, MD, FunderMax India

One of the greatest challenges for a tropical climate such as India’s, is to keep the heat from entering the building. Prashanth Reddy, MD, FunderMax India, states: “It is important to use the right facade system for optimising temperature levels inside a building. The primary objective is to keep heat at bay, which can be achieved by using facade systems made of materials with low U values.”

Proper choice of reflectance properties also ensures that the heat island effect is mitigated in the areas surrounding the building.”

A third key concern is the focus to meet budgets. Providing value-engineering facade projects and flexibility in services is Aluplex. The company aims to deliver the project within budget without compromising on the architecture, quality and sustainability. “Aluplex is presently exploring the use of integrated photovoltaic cells within the curtain wall facade system, wherein the panels generate energy, instead of losing it. Due to the limitations of PV cells that lose efficiency with increasing temperature, we are constructing a prototype that includes a solar heat-exchanger for water heating, incorporated within the BIPV curtain wall panel. The water reduces the temperature of the PV Cell, while also heating water for use,” says the company’s director, Rohan Keswani.

The complete facade expanse of M3M Urbana IT Park, Gurgaon, was fitted out by Aluplex.

Due to the limitations of PV cells that lose efficiency with increasing temperature, Aluplex is constructing a prototype that includes a solar heat-exchanger for water heating, incorporated within the BIPV curtain wall panel.”

Latest materials
Aluminium is increasing popular when it comes to external cladding, owing to its malleability. Piyush Srivastava, national facade manager, Shueco, says, “Aluminium facades have been specifically developed to meet the requirements of tropical markets, which makes it perfect for regions with high wind loads and torrential rain.”

Another favoured material is glass, which has come a long way from its original form and function. SageGlass, an electrochromic glass from Saint-Gobain, is a one-of-its-kind in the world that can control the appearance and performance of the facade, according to one’s preference. This dynamic and electronically tint-able glass enables building owners and users to actively control daylight and solar heat, improving occupant comfort and significantly reducing energy consumption and costs.
Architects constantly research and experiment with new and complex facade forms and designs. As a tool to aid their creativity Saint-Gobain has recently launched PICTUREit. The product functions as a publishing canvas that can be printed upon. 

Rohan Keswani, director, Aluplex.

The printing process uses high-temperature fired enamel, which makes it possible to print permanent designs, photographs and text onto all types of glass. Saint-Gobain has also invested in a manufacturing facility that makes high performance glasses of jumbo sizes that scale up to 10.5ftx20ft.

Managing scale
While India may be blessed with abundant natural light throughout the year, most of it is wasted because buildings, especially high-rises, are exposed to glare issues due to excessive light. Furthermore, studies have shown that productivity of people in our country is affected due to poor conditions of visual comfort. Reddy explains, “Tall buildings are exposed to climatic extremities, this makes designing a facade for taller structures relatively challenging. It involves detailed structural calculations revolving around the wind load requirement. This also helps withstand the current spate of floods and cyclones.

Currently under construction, the facade of the DLF Cyber Park building in Gurgaon is being executed by Aluplex in a record time of three months.

"Ignorance or wrong calculations may lead to weak installations, thereby running a risk of damage and injury. The ideal facade in tall buildings must accommodate building movements and should have a hard surface for high impact resistance. Additionally, smog and silica particles may cause visual defects, so the material should also have anti-graffiti properties.”

PICTUREit, by Saint-Gobain, functions as a publishing canvas that can be printed upon.

SageGlass, an electrochromic glass from Saint-Gobain, is a one-of-its-kind in the world that can control the appearance and performance of the facade, according to one’s preference.Environment-friendly choices

Environment-friendly choices
Environment-friendly is a subjective term that encompasses the entire lifecycle of a product — starting with the raw material, whether from sustainable sources and whether it has any adverse effect on the environment. “FunderMax products are derived from paper, from sustainably managed forests that are FSC or PEFC certified,” informs Reddy. “There are no harmful VOCs released from the panels during use, making it perfect for use in interiors as well. Proper choice of reflectance properties also ensures that the heat island effect is mitigated in the areas surrounding the building. It is a minimum maintenance material that requires less water for cleaning. This reduces the strain on water bodies around us.”

Aluminium facades have been specifically developed to meet the requirements of tropical markets.”


Piyush Srivastava, national facade manager, Shueco.

With a 360° sustainability approach, Schueco offers aluminium window and facade systems for economical and future-proof buildings that conserve resources, along with all the necessary technical documentation and certification. Srivastava shares: “For us, it is important to use materials such as aluminium, which have great potential for recycling. The ultimate goal is to reduce the extent of pollution of the environment, reduction of CO2 emissions, which is another important requirement that must be considered in construction.”

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