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Glass Buildings: The Energy Challenge

Glass Buildings
Reported by
Theresa Wizemann

Posted April 06, 2009

Presented By


The vitreous high-rise tower is an icon of contemporary urban architecture. From a sustainability perspective, however, building experts and climate advocates are raising concerns about the energy performance of glassy transparent façades. New York City is weighing greener building code recommendations as the city—and the world—reconsider the built environment in the face climate change.

On March 3, 2009, architects and engineers gathered at the New York Academy of Sciences to examine further the energy aspect of glass buildings. Scott Frank of Jaros, Baum, and Bolles provided background on current energy codes and standards, and how recent glass designs have been able to meet them; Adrian Tuluca of Viridian Energy & Environmental discussed energy modeling for code compliance and how well modeling reflects reality; and Chris Benedict, an architect experienced in designing energy-efficient building envelopes, demonstrated calculations used to quantify a design's projected energy performance.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.



Web Sites

Architecture and Energy Limited/Chris Benedict, RA
An architecture firm specializing in holistic building design yielding, safe, healthy and comfortable, energy efficient buildings.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) publishes voluntary consensus standards professionally concerned with refrigeration processes and the design and maintenance of indoor environments. ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 is the most current "Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings" applicable to construction with glass façades. The 2005 Radiant Time Series (RTS) Method Load Calculation Spreadsheets are intended as an educational tool both for the student and for the experienced engineer wishing to explore the new RTS method.

CUNY Building Performance Lab
Housed at the City University of New York (CUNY) Institute for Urban Systems, the CUNY Building Performance Lab conducts research, training, and outreach focused on greening existing commercial properties.

Jaros, Baum and Bolles
A full-service mechanical and electrical consulting engineer firm. Current design and construction projects include the new World Trade Center towers and the associated memorial and transit hub.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

Mayor Bloomberg's plan to create a sustainable city, comprised of 10 key goals to be achieved by the year 2030, including reducing global warming emissions in New York City by more than 30 percent.

The Sallan Foundation
The mission of the Sallan Foundation is to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance cities.

USGBC, New York Chapter
USGBC New York advances sustainable building practices through advocacy, education, and research in the greater New York area.

Viridian Energy & Environmental
A firm focused on consulting for energy efficient, environmentally responsible design and construction.


Rollason C. The Passageways of Paris: Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West. A revised version of a 2002 lecture by the author, describes the writings of 19th century social historian, Walter Benjamin, on the Paris Arcades.


Scott Frank, PE, LEED AP

Jaros Baum & Bolles
e-mail | web site

Scott Frank is a partner with the firm of Jaros Baum & Bolles, a full service mechanical and electrical consulting engineering firm specializing in the design of large commercial and institutional projects throughout the world. Since joining the firm in 1987, Mr. Frank has functioned as principal mechanical engineer for numerous new construction and retrofit project located both within the United States and abroad.

In addition, he currently directs the sustainable design practice at JB&B, including in-house energy and CFD modeling functions and has been involved with several significant green projects, including: 30 Hudson Street (Jersey City), One Bryant Park, 7 World Trade Center, and World Trade Center Towers 1 through 4.

Frank holds Bachelor's and Master's of engineering degrees from Cornell University, is a licensed Professional Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional and is a founding Board member of the New York Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Adrian Tuluca, RA, LEED AP

Viridian Energy & Environmental
e-mail | web site

Adrian Tuluca, Registered Architect and LEED Accredited Professional, is the Principal of Viridian Energy & Environmental, LLC. He has a Master of Architecture from the Institute of Architecture in Bucharest, and a Master of Science in Architecture Technology from Columbia University. He has been performing energy and heat flow analyses for over 20 years. He also did testing and monitoring of energy use in both low rise and high-rise buildings. Adrian led the Building Envelope Systems committee of ASHRAE for several years, was a member of several committees performing testing on building envelopes, and contributed to the ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals.

Chris Benedict, RA

Architecture and Energy Limited
e-mail | web site

The office of Chris Benedict provides architectural services for commercial and residential buildings. She is known for designing elegant holistic solutions to building systems. She has recently completed four new construction residential buildings with 104 apartments. These new buildings each use significantly less energy than typical apartment buildings of the same size, but cost the same to build. She is currently designing a green hotel to start construction in 2008 and two new green apartment buildings in Brooklyn to start construction in 2009.

Benedict is chairman of the Building Enclosure Council of New York (BEC-NY), an AIA sub-committee and the home of Building Science in New York City. She is on the faculty of the Pratt Institute and is a member of the Passive House Alliance and the Mayor's Taskforce for "Greening the Codes."

Nancy E. Anderson, PhD

Sallan Foundation
e-mail | web site

Nancy Anderson is executive director of the Sallan Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to improve the urban environment by advancing useful knowledge for greener, high performance cities. She served an as environmental policy maker in New York City government for twenty years. Prior to that time, she taught sociology and political science at the university level. A lifelong New Yorker, she holds a PhD in sociology and a BA in English literature from New York University.

Michael Bobker

City University of New York
e-mail | web site

Michael Bobker is director of the City University of New York Building Performance Lab. He is also a senior fellow of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems. He has spent over 25 years working in NYC buildings and energy management organizations, and has experience in building equipment evaluation, energy analysis, engineering and construction management, technology application, and technician training.

Theresa Wizemann
Theresa M. Wizemann is a science writer based in Doylestown, PA. Her writing focuses on biomedical science, health, and technology, including public policy, regulatory policy, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical research. Wizemann holds a PhD in microbiology and molecular genetics, awarded jointly from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She completed her postdoctoral research at the Rockefeller University in New York and is a former ASM/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow.