NAVIGATING GLAZING DESIGN AND CODE-COMPLIANCE

September 19, 2018

Architects want to give their client a home design that will not only impress but will stand up to evolving codes and requirements over time.

Residential design comes with challenges, especially when homeowners live in regions with stringent building and safety code requirements. Understanding local code and common building challenges can help architects navigate compliance more easily—even when their clients are looking for designs with features like expansive glass installations.

Which Codes to Look Out for

“There is no shortage of performance standards in the United States and Canada for windows, doors and other fenestration components,” says Anne Mendoza with Intertek. Understanding basic code requirements is a good place to start.

International Building Code standards are based on several sets of regulations, including standards from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

Glazing products are tested for performance in a few areas: air infiltration, water penetration, structural performance, forced entry and any secondary testing required by local regulations. Standards such as AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.,S.2/A440 NAFS 2011(NAFS 2011) govern the procedures and performance required for these areas.

Depending on your client’s goals and the project requirements, there are other considerations besides code-compliance you will want to incorporate into your design. These next projects showcase stunning glass design and code-compliance, inspiring architects, builders and homeowners alike.

Goal: An Abundance of Light and Views

Homeowners want more than just code-compliant windows. Advancements in glass technology make it possible for residential architects to design with windows that meet the demands of today’s homeowners.

Ample daylighting is one of those demands: it isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a must.

But traditional windows didn’t always meet the demand for more daylight and certainly didn’t give homeowners pass-through options. Now that the technology is available, and meets code requirements, homeowners are encouraged to think about incorporating more glass into their design, whether they’re building their dream home or remodeling an older home.

“Early builders didn't forgo picture windows by choice,” writes Duo Dickinson for This Old House, “the technology simply wasn't available. Does that mean that only modern houses can feature large expanses of glass? No. It's not wrong to think about big windows facing wonderful views in even the most historically "correct" houses — you just have to pick your spots wisely.”

But larger amounts of glass need to meet structural performance requirements, which can often mean hiring additional contractors or engineers.

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Luckily, if you work closely with your glass product supplier, you can ensure designs that incorporate wide expanses of glass still meet the highest standards in performance. Companies like MGlass partner with structural engineers to ensure architects and builders meet local code requirements while giving their clients the views and natural light they want.

Goal: Making the Outdoors Immediately Accessible

Sometimes homeowners want an all-access pass to the outdoors.

Designers with Specht Architects were able to create the ultimate “beach haven” for a New Jersey family with a home design that is both breathtaking and code-compliant.

"The challenge was to create something open and light-filled that takes advantage of its beautiful setting, yet uses every available square inch of buildable area allowed by law," said Specht Architects.

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But when a coastal home is in a high-velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) or wind-borne debris region (WBDR), local code requirements are more stringent. Additional testing is required in these regions to ensure that architect’s designs are disaster-resilient. Product specifications and the overall home design must be able to withstand extreme winds and flying debris, which requires missile impact testing.

Specht Architects designed the home with safety (and the open sea) in mind:

“Techniques that are often used in boat building were used in the construction of the house. The roof is all fiberglass, and the exterior components all stainless steel. Windows are of the highest hurricane-rating available.”

Goal: A Design That Stands the Test of Time

Architects also need to give homeowners a design that will evolve with their needs, no matter how long they live in the home.

“[Buyers are] realizing that they’re not just purchasing for today, but for 20- to 30-plus years down the line,” says Maria Stapperfenne of Tewksbury Kitchens & Baths. “They’re much more savvy in that regard.”

When designing a home that will stand the test of time, it’s important to consider local code requirements and how those standards will evolve in the future. You’ll want your glass products to be tested to ensure that you’ll exceed requirements, not just meet them, so they will still be code-compliant if codes are changed to be more stringent in the future.

There are a few areas that you’ll want to make sure your products go beyond the minimum standards, if you’re looking to design for the long term.

“The demand for sound-reducing building materials has continued to rise,” writes Anne Mendoza. That demand has led to stricter acoustics testing on glass products.

Architects can ensure their client’s homes are appropriately soundproof by making sure the glass products they choose will perform successfully. Glass products should be tested for sound absorption, transmission and impact.

Architects can also ensure their clients are happy for the long-term by specifying materials that are tested for durability. This includes the components used in glass products, such as hardware, fasteners, weather stripping, sealants, coatings and finishes.

In glass windows and doors, operability is crucial, especially over the course of time. Architects will want to specify products that their clients can use for years to come, so they’ll want to choose window and door products that open and close with ease.

The hardware used in the sleek MLift line offers homeowners a long-term glass solution. MLift’s hardware offers unprecedented ease of operation for homeowners of any age or ability, and the product redefines what a sliding glass door can offer to residential design. The hardware’s sleek lift and slide technology makes the MLift safe and effortless to operate, and can withstand weights up to 500 kg, letting architects choose larger expanses of glass for the door.

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Goal: Creating Homes That Are a Part of the Landscape

Part of creating a home that clients will love is adapting the home’s design to its surrounding environment. This architect designed a home that didn’t just complement its environment: It became an integral part of it.

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“Most modernist houses in the valley are beautifully tuned boxes standing in the landscape,” said project architect Darren Petrucci. “I wanted to make a house that was more of the landscape.”

For a design with this kind of impact, architects will need to create homes that can stand up to their environments. A desert home like this one has to incorporate products that are thermally tested.

Regions that experience extreme weather or temperature fluctuations may have additional energy performance standards included in local code. These requirements ensure home designs offer comfort year-round and provide higher levels of energy efficiency.

Today’s energy codes and high-performance green building codes are pushing for lower U-value requirements in glass products. A lower U-value means less energy is lost. Using an interior surface coating like SunGuard® IS 20 from Guardian helps architects meet these codes by lowering U-values by up to 25% in some applications.

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Inspiration and Code-Compliant Design

Homeowners today want efficiency and luxury throughout their homes. The windows and doors designers and architects choose can give homeowners the look they want.

Architects can find code-compliant solutions for their designs to keep clients happier and in their homes longer by utilizing companies who design their products to exceed code requirement such as MINIMAL Glass + Door.

Visit M-Glass’s projects page for more code-compliant inspirations.

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