A Glaring Omission

A building dubbed the “Walkie Talkie” building in London reportedly produced so much glare that it was able to melt the exterior of a car next door.

It’s been a silent killer really, ignored for far too long by the glass industry. It’s been discounted—a glaring omission really. Based on what I am hearing 2017 will be its year.

Just as we have become educated about energy performance characteristics, followed by the development of energy ratings, then learned about acoustical qualities followed by the development of acoustical ratings, I predict we are going to learn a lot this year about glare.

That’s right, glare. A few months ago, I attended a whole symposium session during Façade Tectonics devoted exclusively to glare and the science around it.  And I have to say it was fascinating.

Glass, for example, can be analyzed for visual discomfort, thermal discomfort or both. We are all familiar with examples of each. The “walkie talkie” building in London that was able to melt the exterior of a car next door is the ultimate example of thermal discomfort. The Los Angeles condos with owners who can no longer open their blinds without nearly 100 percent glare (from metal, at least, not the glass, from Walt Disney Concert Hall) are the ultimate example of visual discomfort.

The metal from Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles reportedly causes so much glare that condo owners nearby cannot open their doors.All the usual hallmarks are already in place. There are glare analysis tools and universities such as Texas that have full labs that study glare. There are even levels of how humans perceive glare (imperceptible, perceptible, disturbing and intolerable).

The effects of glare are disturbing. It can damage human eyesight, devalue property, and can even cause property damage and litigation.  So get ready as glare takes the “spot-lite.”

P.S. I will be at the BEC Conference in Vegas this week, hope to see you there!

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