Australia’s largest provider of glass has responded to an academic article written by British university professor David Coley which questioned the role glass plays in sustainable building design.

Climate change means we can't keep living (and working) in glass houses by David Coley of the University of Bath posits that a true commitment to sustainable design from architects would involve the reduction of glazing on buildings because glass is a poor insulator and highly glazed buildings  require a unsustainable level of mechanical heating or cooling.

CSR Viridian, which is also Australia’s only manufacturer of float glass and hard coat performance products, has since responded to Coley’s article on their online blog and offered their own alternative to cutting glazing from Australia's buildings—design them differently.

“Coley places a significant, and unfair emphasis on the fact that windows in buildings need to change, pushing that they should only get smaller,” reads the response from Viridian.

“Whilst it is true that in comparison to a brick wall, glass can be a poorer insulator but we also need to consider, can a brick wall bring to a space what a window does?”

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However, Viridian does agree with Coley on more than just the insulation performance of glass. Viridian also admitted that that climate change is a reality, and that we as a society can’t simply keep pumping our air conditioners to combat the rising and cooling temperatures at the expense of our environment.

“Here at Viridian, we completely agree – the designs and architecture of our buildings does in fact need to change,” says Viridian.

“But does that have to come at the expense of a lack of glass, and therefore a lack of habitability? We think not.”

Viridan then goes on to explain that Coley’s assertions don’t place enough onus on the designer in the delivery of sustainable buildings and suggests that glazing actually plays an important role in high-quality and sustainable design.

Excerpts from their post below:

“Let’s not forget that the basis and primary purpose of a building is liveability and amenity for humans, not just a low-energy-use box. Coley implies that homes and workplaces cannot be energy efficient whilst also reaping the benefits of glass – light filled, comfortable, better quality spaces with an enhanced connection with nature. Well Mr Coley, we actually think the change that needs to occur lies in the hands of the designer, who must play a role in ensuring better building environments – designing more buildings, with more glass, that have exceptional energy efficiency performance.”

“Glass doesn’t have to be left behind when it comes to sustainable design for the places we are going to live and work in the future. Simply stated, architecture needs to change to ensure that the buildings of the future reflect the needs of our future, and it does not have to come at the expense of natural light in our living spaces.”