Weatherwatch: glass skyscrapers are worst energy offenders

(The Guardian, 30 Sep 2019) Big windows and high air-conditioning needs mean radical new approaches are needed.

Whatever you think of skyscrapers, they guzzle energy. One study revealed that electricity use per square metre of floor area was nearly two and a half times greater in high-rise office buildings (20 or more storeys) than in low-rises (six storeys or less).

The gas use for heating was about 40% more for tall buildings, and the total carbon emissions from these buildings was twice as high.

Glass skyscrapers are the worst offenders. Large windows may provide magnificent views but they leak heat in cold weather; even triple glazed windows lose far more heat than a well-insulated brick wall.

In hot weather, glass windows turn building interiors into ovens, and temperatures rise even further with the heat from people and computers in an office. It was only the development of modern air-conditioning that made the interior of glass buildings tolerable in summer, but carbon emissions from air-conditioned offices are about 60% higher than offices with natural or mechanical ventilation.

Air-conditioning is rising worldwide – by 2050 it is predicted that the energy consumption for air-conditioning could triple. It would be a challenge for renewable energy to meet all this demand and if we are to truly tackle climate change, a radical new way of designing multiple occupancy office space needs to be found.

External link

The Guardian, 30 Sep 2019: Weatherwatch: glass skyscrapers are worst energy offenders