From an energy and environment viewpoint, the glazed component of a building is, at the same time, the weakest and strongest element. Its disadvantages are associated with heat loss, thermal discomfort and visual discomfort (glare); its benefits include passive solar heat gain, electric lighting power reduction and view. Previous research has therefore sought to assist the industry in accentuating the benefits while eliminating the disadvantages. By focusing on specific technologies, such research has brought about significant developments in both the glazing itself and window systems. However, actual benefits will depend critically not only on the technical capabilities of the glazing but also on the interactions with other building sub-systems.
The IMAGE project set out to encourage appropriate applications of advanced glazing, to raise awareness of products amongst designers and to give impetus to market penetration. The project comprised two complementary activities: the testing of representative advanced glazing systems in laboratories and outdoor test cells and the use of computer simulations to determine the overall behaviour of these glazing systems when applied to different building types operating in different climates.
Standard test procedures were developed for the assessment of the performance of advanced glazing systems in the laboratory and outdoors. A whole range of glazing and window systems, from high-technology glazings to more ordinary framing systems, were tested and have been studied by means of numerical simulation. A good agreement was found between the outdoor and laboratory tests.
The project developed better computer simulation techniques for representing the performance of glazing in buildings. A new software product - the GDST (Glazing Design Support Tool) - has been established to enable glazing manufacturers to subject their products to a multi-variate performance appraisal.
Design integration studies were undertaken to involve building industry professionals in advanced glazing and to obtain the feedback which is necessary for manufacturers to understand market forces and constraints.
Last but not least a marketplace study was carried out to evaluate exploitation potential. This included a market survey of some 300 building industry professionals in 4 countries and an environmental impact study, which involved the development of a software package to determine the environmental life cycle cost/benefit of any glazing system.