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Cladding & Curtain Walling

By paying careful attention to glass specification, you will be able to reduce heat losses

Your choice of cladding and curtain walling material could have a big impact on CO2 emissions, especially when you factor in transportation and other life cycle data, which will be affected by products and materials’ expected life. Don’t assume that the nearer the source, the lower a product or material’s CO2 emissions will be. Other factors may come into play and the best guides are EPDs and assessment data from the BRE or other trusted sources.

Many cladding and curtain walling materials, for example metals, are recycled and recyclable and this will affect their environmental profile by limiting resource depletion and minimising landfill volumes. Energy used in production and also CO2 emissions may also be lower where materials have been recycled. Certain forms of cladding construction are inherently less wasteful because work on site, particularly cutting, is kept to an absolute minimum.

By paying careful attention to glass specification, you will be able to reduce heat losses, for example by choosing
double or triple-glazed units and low-e coatings. Solar gain, discomfort and debilitating glare can also be limited
through glass specification and balanced against the quantity and quality of daylight penetration, which can lower the costs and other impacts of artificial lighting. Brise soleil also have an impact on solar gain and glare, but must also be balanced against reductions in beneficial thermal gain and daylight. Cladding insulation, detailed construction and workmanship also has a big impact on heat loss, for example through cold bridges and air leakage. On the other hand, natural ventilation through opening lights, panels, louvres and trickle vents lowers energy use and, subject to air quality regulation, improves wellbeing.

Cladding can be used to generate energy through integral photovoltaic panels which are available as proprietary products. Green wall construction can also be used to promote biodiversity and create beneficial microclimates.

Some cladding materials are marketed for their pollution-regulating properties and some for their phase change
performance. It’s a good idea to be receptive to new technical developments, while also scrutinising validated performance data and CE markings, as well as checking for environmental management accreditation, in particular ISO 14001 procedures, and responsible sourcing.

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