High performance building envelopes have the potential to play a crucial role in reshaping Boston‘s architectural identity, explained Andrea Love, Director of Building Science at Payette. “A number of buildings of the past were all glass boxes that could be located in any climate anywhere. I think we have an opportunity to create climate responsive facades that reflect the location they are in.” Love will expand on the theme at this month’s Facades+AM Boston symposium, where she joins NADAAA Principal Nader Tehrani and Studio NYL Founding Principal Christopher O’Hara in a presentation block on “Boston’s High Performance Skyline.”
Northeastern University, Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. (Courtesy Payette)
Happily, Boston’s AEC industry professionals have a head start when it comes to designing and building environmentally-efficient facades. “I think that because of the Stretch Code and current energy code in Massachusetts, Boston leads much of the country in terms of high performance envelopes,” said Love. Aggressive code requirements encourage rigorous evaluation and creative problem-solving. At the same time, she explained, “many local clients in the Boston area also have environmental and climate commitments which further reinforces the need for high performance facades.”
This is not to say that there is no room for improvement. Even Boston lags behind much of Europe, for instance. Love points to triple glazing as an example of a facade component that, while more or less standard in Europe, has only recently become more common in New England. In addition, she said, architects, engineers, and contractors must work to further their understanding in issues including thermal bridging and the relationship between facades and occupant comfort. “As an industry, I don’t think we focus enough on how our building envelopes impact visual and thermal comfort in the spaces that are being created,” explained Love.
Love is excited about the multiplicative effect an increase in energy literacy has had on designers and builders. “It’s a ripple effect—we are becoming more sophisticated in our understanding of how facades influence building performance,” she said. “We’re also improving how we incorporate analysis tools that allow us to make more informed decisions [during] our design process. And we continue to optimize the performance of our facades with strategies like increasing insulation, high performing glazing and sunshades that actually impact building performance.”
Learn more from Love and other movers and shakers in the facades world at Facades+AM Boston. Sign up today for one of the limited remaining seats.
Tufts University, Science and Engineering Center. (Courtesy Payette)