Sustainable Solutions

Sustainable Storefronts

04:01:27 PM on 05/14/2010

I think it’s time to raise the bar on storefront performance. “Sustainable Storefronts” can no longer be an oxy-moron. Higher performing, ultra-thermal storefront and entrance systems need to become the rule, not the exception. That being said, I wanted to take a look at where we are now and address some market misconceptions.

Question 1:  All things equal, when do transparent, ultra-thermal building envelopes have the greatest impact on overall building energy-efficiency —  on typical mid- to high-rise commercial office space or typical stand-alone retail structures?  To the surprise of some, we find that buildings with smaller floor plans tend to benefit the most.  Common sense applies here:  Glazed envelopes enclosing smaller areas (high wall-to-floor-space ratios) deliver the greater impact.

Atrium of


The Terry Thomas building in Seattle, Washington utilized Kawneer Trifab® VG 451T thermal storefront framing, and GLASSvent®  visually frameless windows.  Storefront framing was used for the exterior facade and the atrium (shown at left) on the LEED Gold certified building.


Question 2:  When is a curtain wall not a curtain wall?  Answer: When it’s storefront. The confusion lies in the product category verses the product application. Most readers will be able to define “curtain wall”, but how many times have you heard someone ask to apply a storefront product to a curtain wall application?  Clearly, the motivation of the inquirer here is product cost.  Consider the opposite and seemingly more common occurrence: Is it just me, or are we seeing more curtain wall product used in storefront applications?  One of the many reasons may simply lie in the fact that curtain wall products offer more sustainable solution options with higher thermal performance.  I’m inclined to believe that there is as much Kawneer 1600 Wall product erected in single span applications as in multi-floor curtain walls. 

What do you think? 

    Are sustainable storefronts possible?

        What would an “advanced” storefront look like?




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