Fenestration Focus

16 November 2016
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The textbook definition of fenestration, which finds its roots in the Latin word for windows – fenestra, refers to the design, arrangement and portioning of glazing component systems within buildings – “controlled” apertures that permit the passage of air or light or serve to permit entry and egress of occupants.

As such fenestration components in addition to windows and doors include internal & external shading systems, skylights, roof lanterns, clerestories, roof monitors, light pipes, tubular daylighting devices and many forms of specialty glazing.

In North America, where the citizens are 80% urbanized and spend the over 90% of their time indoors, obviously these components also play an essential role in our well-being.

These components act as filters between inside and outside and play a significant role in achieving comfort in buildings by bringing in natural light, solar heat, fresh air and serve as a physical and/or visual connection to the outdoors.

They are subject to all the elements of the outdoor environment including freeze-thaw cycling, UV radiation, driving rain, snow, heat stress, wind loads, impact, dust, acid rain, impact, forced entry and deliberate abuse. These components are also exposed to conditions on the interior including humidity, condensation, temperature variations, and the effects of occupancy.

In addition, fenestration components are expected to transmit light without causing glare, allow entry of fresh air without causing drafts, be airtight but easy to operate, to bring in solar heat in winter – while preventing solar heat gain in the summer.

Also often overlooked is the important function these components play in comfort and safety of the occupant’s which is one of the most important functions provided by the building enclosure.

Thousands of Years/Thousands of Uses

Even though we have been manufacturing glass for thousands of years, the full potential of modern fenestration products has not been fully exploited to date.

It took 2,000 years from the time we discovered “blown” glass before we were able to manufacture glass strong enough to safely fabricate windows. However, once we had mastered the art – we did not look back. The use of glass in buildings is so popular that it appears close to dominating construction.

The use of glass in buildings is increasing and innovation in fenestration products is altering the way we live our lives. Glass is widely used in almost every aspect of our daily lives – in our homes, offices, cars, computers and telephones.

Glass technology has its own language and there are 817 words that are unique to the glass industry.

Glass innovations such as computerized control systems, coating techniques, solar control technology, and the integration of micro-electronic have been combined to create “smart” glass – which is able to react and respond to external forces – are constantly evolving.

Over the years the many innovations and inventions that incorporate glass components appear almost routine, perhaps because it is “invisible.”

We may take it for granted however; glass has managed to gradually transform agriculture, horticulture, architecture, transportation, medicine, science, art and even our culture.

Nine Primary Uses of Glass

  • As a medium for art.
  • As a substitute for precious stones/jewelry.
  • For vessels, vases and bottles.
  • Glass for windows, doors, skylights and other fenestration components.
  • Glass used for mirrors, lens, telescopes, eyeglasses.
  • Scientific and medical instruments.
  • Cameras, television, computers, appliances, automobiles, telephones and many more electronic devices.

Modern life is simply not possible without glass – and that is not about to change!

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