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Global Architecture Trends in the US: The State of Energy Saving Facades

By July 26, 2018August 20th, 2018No Comments

The State of Energy Saving FacadesFor decades, European architects have been using energy saving facades to address rising electricity costs and sustainability initiatives.  More recently, we’ve seen an increasing number of American architects adopting the solutions that are widespread abroad.  In nearly every U.S. city and in many smaller communities, more and more building designs are incorporating tensile membrane facades in order to stay ahead of the energy efficient curve.

In the U.S., we continue to see a growing trend with architects who are searching for cost-effective solutions to our warming climate while also wanting to maximize their use of American-made products.

Why the Delay? Understanding the Difference between European & American Markets

Most architects and contractors would agree that energy saving facades are an incredibly viable option for their big-picture efficiency goals, and yet, it’s only been within the last decade since they’ve been widely used in our country.  Within the tensioned fabric architecture industry, there are many theories as to why the U.S. market has been slower to adopt the trend towards energy saving facades than our global counterparts.

One popular theory is centered around the difference in educational programs.  Both North American and European schools now widely recognize that the construction, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance of buildings, infrastructure, and roads contribute to approximately 40% of all carbon added to the earth’s atmosphere.  However, many U.S. programs have only recently begun implementing standard coursework to explore solutions for this growing issue.  European programs have often been led by environmentally focused coursework, such as designing highly efficient structures through Passive Designs or Net Zero Designs.

Another theory is the standard use of air conditioning in American building.  In our country, it would be challenging to find a commercial property that doesn’t have a cooling system installed.  This makes interior comfort less of an issue for the general public because they aren’t suffering from the impacts of solar heat gain as they go about their daily business.

Perhaps the most widely accepted theory for our country’s slower adoption of energy saving facades is the more rigid building codes architects, engineers, and general contractors face.  The European market, many say, is quicker to adopt and adjust to new technologies, while the U.S. market is slower to establish new codes based on new technologies.

The Future of Energy Saving Facades in American Architecture

With increasingly effective fabrics and designs, tensioned fabric architecture is adapting to U.S. codes and regulations.  For example, membranes can easily be selected based on the regional fire regulations and flammability tests with which the project must be in compliance.  Materials and designs are continually evolving to address issues of durability, performance, and wind-load restrictions.

Similarly, companies like Tension Structures are providing American-made solutions that are tailored to U.S. building codes and support local economies.  In short, the future for the tensioned fabric architecture industry is bright as we continue to work in partnership with architects and general contractors to develop innovative solutions for our local market.

Are Energy Saving Facades Right for Your Project?

In the Tension Structures Division of Eide Industries, we specialize in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of structurally complex and creatively challenging commercial, government, and prototype design projects.  Our expertise with tensile facade systems and tension structures supports architects, designers, general contractors, and building owners in their efforts to bring custom tensile membrane projects to life.

Explore the options for your next project by calling 800-422-6827.