GLASS IN SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS
As new construction becomes increasingly energy efficient, energy consumption is no longer the only criteria that is being considered when evaluating the sustainable performance of buildings. Based on a complete life-cycle approach, the impact of manufacturing the building materials, as well as the construction, transportation, demolition and end-of-life phases, becomes critical to improving a building’s overall sustainable performance.
Glass is an inert and irreplaceable material that brings natural light in buildings: flat glass production from energy efficient furnaces makes it a product of choice for sustainable buildings.
For instance, the total CO2 equivalent emitted by the manufacturing of an energy efficient double-glazing unit is offset on average within 6 to 20 months by the energy savings realised compared to the same building equipped with inefficient glazing. In addition, glass is mainly made of abundant raw materials such as sand, its manufacturing process is energy efficient, requires low levels of water and generates little waste (broken glass, cullet) that can be easily re-introduced in close-loop in the furnace. In fact, today approximately 26% of the materials’ input that goes into European flat glass furnaces is cullet.
The vast majority of glass products for buildings could be recyclable at the end of their lives. This contributes to even lower environmental impact. When recycled in new glass products, glass waste helps to save both raw materials and energy in manufacturing new glass products.