Insulation is one of the most efficient ways to naturally control the interior climate of a space. In terms of green building, insulation stands as a key element as it is relatively inexpensive, completely free once installed and saves on carbon emissions and the monetary costs of heating and cooling a space.
The image associated with traditional insulation is that of the rock wool or glass wool sheets that slip into the frames of buildings and insulate through heavy protection, adding bulk and a thick protectant between the building’s interior and the exterior elements.
However, green insulation is moving in a very new and aesthetically unique direction, one that takes a ‘less is more’ attitude.
In place of the thick and bulky insulation typical of traditional design and project delivery, architects are now incorporating insulation into the aesthetic make up of a building with the clever use of ‘double skin curtain’ walls.
This exterior design feature is having some serious effects on the interiors of buildings, both from aesthetic and atmospheric standpoints.
A double skin facade is essentially two glass sheet walls. On its own, glass sheeting as an interior protectant and insulator is not a logical option – the glass is too thin and transparent to keep in heat or eliminate solar gain. However, the double skin also provides an internal ventilation corridor that acts as a natural insulator. Heat or cold air from the outside is trapped in the corridor and can be channeled into various natural heating and cooling ventilation systems. The glass is also heavily glazed, which allows for the interior climate to stay steady without allowing excess solar gain or heat loss.
While the double skin facade is an evolutionary new green design process, it does have its drawbacks.
As with most green initiatives, the double facade skin does come with a green premium and can cost more in up front building costs, though these costs are most likely to be recuperated over the life of the building. There is also the factor that the double glass skin does take up additional interior floor space, even if it is a matter of millimetres.
Even though a double skin facade does have its drawbacks, the industry is constantly evolving and this innovation should not be hampered by small concessions. This design feature offers to evolve traditional insulation and offer a highly aesthetic, ultra modern, cleverly green alternative to a traditional building necessity.