Glass and steel have long been essential components in construction, and a number of leisure and hospitality venues rely heavily on the use of these materials to create a sturdy, safe, airy, and welcoming environment for their customers. But many are asking whether these materials should be banned in an attempt to tackle climate change.
The problem with glass & steel
The steel industry remains one of the biggest producers of carbon dioxide; a primary greenhouse gas and major contributor to global warming. Glass, on the other hand, is much less efficient than it may seem, with triple glazing having a U-value of 1.0, compared to the 0.1 U-value of brick. In fact, the glass building at NYC’s 7 World Trade Center is less energy efficient than the Empire State Building with its iconic brick facade.
As a result, there have been recent calls to ban glass and steel architecture in a bid to tackle climate change. One of the most vocal of supporters is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has announced plans to ban construction of glass and steel buildings in the city. However, it’s important to ask whether this is really necessary to facilitate change.
Banning glass & steel… is it necessary?
In banning glass and steel entirely, there are a number of sustainable materials that could potentially take their place, including reclaimed wood, recycled non-wood materials such as plastic, precast concrete, and even plant-based polyurethane.
However, it may not be completely necessary to fully impose a ban on glass and steel, with a number of alternative options presenting themselves which could help to improve the efficiency and sustainability of these materials, such as the use of recycled steel, installation of low-e double and triple glazed windows, and even solar control glazing which is designed to regulate temperature while also maximising natural light.
The truth is that, while banning steel and glass construction is certainly an option to tackle climate change, it is not the only option. We can’t overlook the fact that reinventing modern design could also have a significant impact on the planet. If we started to create buildings WITH windows, rather than buildings that ARE windows, for example, venues could massively reduce the use of glass and boost overall efficiency.
F&B design is at a turning point; now is the time to take a step back from the futuristic styles and take a more down-to-earth approach to do our part for the environment.