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Glass that lasts

Taking on the issue of insulating glass failures.

March 23, 2016  By Brian Hubbs

Over the past few decades the use of glass and glazing on high-rise buildings has increased dramatically. More recently, as a result of increased industry recognition of the importance of energy efficiency, the trend is towards more energy efficient glazing systems. Common methods of improving thermal performance of insulating glass units (IGU) includes the application of high performance coatings, use of triple glazing or warm edge spacer technology, and installing solar selective films on or inside the units.

While these solutions have all been effective at improving thermal performance, there have been cases where the implementation of this new technology has resulted in premature and costly failures. Hubbs’ educational presentation uses case studies to demonstrate and explain the variety of problems that can occur with glass and glazing after installation. The case studies included examine each type of IGU failure, and help to explain how different investigation techniques were used to find the failure mechanisms. The presentation includes research findings on common symptoms indicating IGU failure (condensation within the sealed unit, corrosion of the low-E surface films, deflection of the edge spacer, and volatile fogging) and how each symptom shows where the IGU design or manufacturing issues introduced failure mechanisms. Given that, in most cases, a failed IGU will need to be replaced requiring extensive and costly work to remove and replace each failed unit, Brian’s presentation will offer insight into how IGUs work and how to optimize the IGU design for longevity, as well as offer risk reduction recommendations to avoid the most common causes of IGU failures. A checklist of items to include in specifications to address the key aspects of high performance glazing and glass will also be presented.
About the speaker
Brian Hubbs is a managing principal and senior building science specialist at RDH Building Science. He is a seasoned consultant with nearly 25 years’ experience, practicing exclusively in the field of façade engineering and building science — experience that has gained him a reputation among his peers as a practical engineer and researcher who constantly delivers innovative solutions. He has a unique blend of theoretical and hands-on knowledge gained from completing hundreds of building enclosure investigations and rehabilitation projects, as well as from façade engineering and construction review of building enclosures for new buildings. Brian’s experience includes work on high and low-rise commercial, institutional and residential building projects in many cities and in virtually all climatic regions across Canada and the United States. Brian has extensive experience with a variety of building enclosure systems, components, and materials. This includes steep and low-slope roofing systems, wall claddings of all types, windows, stick built and unitized curtain wall, glazing and structural glass walls and skylights, as well as below-grade and plaza waterproofing systems. Brian also has extensive experience designing, testing and constructing unique high-rise building facades with unitized curtainwall, skylights, and window-wall systems manufactured offshore in Asia and Europe. An engaging and vibrant presenter, Brian regularly speaks at seminars, conferences, and guest lectures on a range of building science topics.


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