Center for the Built Environment
High-performance facades design strategies and applications in North America and Northern Europe
- Author(s): Zelenay, Krystyna
- Perepelitza, Mark
- Lehrer, David
- et al.
A number of buildings built in central and northern Europe over the course of the last two decades utilize a range of more advanced facade design solutions than those typically implemented on U.S. buildings – a trend that has been driven in part by higher energy prices, stricter building codes, and higher expectations regarding the quality of the built environment. Through a critical analysis of select North American buildings and interviews with building professionals in northern Europe and North America, this report identifies both simple and advanced facade technologies that enable the development of commercial buildings that minimize the need for HVAC and lighting energy use, while enhancing occupant well-being. Challenges and lessons learned from detailed North American case study buildings are discussed in the hope that these can serve as a guide for the successful implementation and accelerate the adoption of advanced facade design solutions in the U.S. building stock. Findings from discussions with design teams and building managers reveal that many of the fundamental principles driving facade design in European buildings can and are already being applied in North American buildings. One exception to this trend is that automated facade technologies are only slowly beginning to penetrate the market, accompanied by a moderate learning curve on the projects on which they have been installed. Regular system maintenance, occupant education, and assessment of occupant satisfaction during the building operation phase are critical for ensuring that facade systems are meeting energy and occupant comfort requirements.