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Fenestration: A key element of successful building design

Fenestration: A key element of successful building design

Designing a building or project is no easy task. The role played by fenestration is quite vital in executing projects seamlessly. Here are the factors which make fenestration an attractive option.

The architecture and design in the 21st century has undergone a massive change and it has now become more and more customer centric, climate centric and thinking on your feet is the need of the hour.  Another massive change that we have witnessed is in the doors and windows and fenestration industry. Gone are the days of, fenestration just being an afterthought in designing a building. It has now gained significant importance when it comes to making high-rises, hospitality sector, malls and buildings. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out the reasons behind fenestration becoming a niche industry and its advantages.

Maintenance of buildings
Amin Nayyar, Director, ANA Design Studio, gives his view on the maintenance of buildings and says, “It depends upon the Total cost of ownership (TCO) and what you are doing to the overall building. You will not have payback by just the quality of fenestration glass. It will depend upon factors like what kind of technology are you using in air conditioning, how efficiently are you designing your heat loads, how efficiently are you looking at the building performance, are you going to stick to 22 (+-1) degree and will you talk to your client and look at to 24 (+-2) degree and this simple difference of 22 (+-1) and 24 (+-2) temperature can make a difference of 30 months to the recouping of money 
you are spending. There are several case studies where recoveries have happened in 18-27 months. You need to be in constant communication and get feedback from your clients even after the project is completed as building continues to be one of the largest capital expenses that any industry would have in the developing countries.”

Umaesh Raje, Principal Architect, Space Craft Architects, offers his take on this issue and says, “We are into making hotel buildings and even for hotel clients, everybody wants their buildings to be economical. But we have to educate our clients initially as they come with a fixed mindset like costing and if I am making additional costs to the project then I have to justify that by making them aware about the benefits of it in the long term.”

Ameeta Sharma Menon, Principal Architect, MU Design Studio, gives her opinion the importance of absorbing local texture for fenestration material and says, “What we find from the modern understanding of the fenestration is what works with this inspiration is the locally available stones, which are naturally responsive to the climate around it. If we talk about the coastal region of Maharashtra – Konkan belt has Latrice stone, which is highly polished material which is suitable for that climate. Rajasthan has Sandstone as it doesn’t trap heat and cools the space naturally. Our firm deals with the hospitality sector and we do use these elements quite a bit for the projects.”

Fenestration performance:
There are methods available to check the performance of fenestration. Amin Nayyar says, “Building Management System (BMS) is integral to most buildings now. The quality of sensors and price of it has come down drastically and there are open protocols available like Modbus and others and you don’t have to rely on any particular supplier or vendor. If you place the sensors properly right at the BMS design process then they will offer adequate results on how the building is performing. There are agencies such as GRIHA, LEED which provide standardization process for this.”

Use of wood as a fenestration material for building
Umaesh Raje says, “We can use wood as a fenestration material but in a controlled manner. Wood is a very good thermal insulator but once we start using it for exterior purposes then we need to do some additional treatments to protect that part of the wood. It depends upon the design of the building and the materials used in it. uPVC material is also a good alternative for fenestration as it is cheaper to wood and uPVC has good sound insulation qualities.”

Ameeta Sharma Menon sheds some light about whether the use of green wood as a fenestration material is contrary to the green building concept. She says, “There is a lot of debate and research that goes into wood being used as any kind of construction material right from the sustainability part. A wood that has been responsibly grown, cured for construction is perfectly fine as wood has been the traditional material of construction. Looking at the current climate conditions, wood has to be locally sourced and should adhere to environmental guidelines.”

Role of window frame material in managing energy efficiency
When we talk of window’s energy efficiency, the role of window 
frame material plays a crucial role. Ashwin Reddy, MD, Aparna Enterprises Ltd, agrees to this point and says, “The window frame material plays a very critical role in managing the overall energy efficiency of the window. It works alongside the glass glazing in a window to block transfer of heat. Despite good glazing, a window with poor profile material (if not sturdy and properly sealed) contributes to poor insulation of the space and requires a good amount of effort to maintain temperature inside the given space, especially in extreme temperature conditions. Such windows also have need for regular and exhaustive maintenance to manage the overall look and feel of the window. A window with quality uPVC or Aluminium profile on the other hand effectively insulates the given space and helps in maintaining temperature with minimal effort. Such windows also don’t require extensive maintenance and look good for years with just cleaning at periodic intervals.”

Rachna Agarwal, Founder, Design Ideator, Studio IAAD, gives her take on the issue and says, “The energy-efficiency of a window is codependent on the type of window installed, the function it serves and its contextual presence to the layout and site alike. Particularly, in aluminium systems, the frames have in-built systems where there is a thermal break. In such systems, the transfer in energy is minimised. These can often be of very high quality but come with the facet of increased expenditure and may not be the most viable option at hand.

Double glazed (DGU) windows are an ideal energy efficient choice with the added benefit of minimising noise and increased insulation. This added thermal resistance reduces the heat escape in the winters and keeps spaces at an optimum temperature. Laminated glass in tandem with frames also creates an integrated energy-efficient system with its varied applications.”

Atmanirbhar Bharat
The recent coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the economic scenario for most of the industries and doors and windows, fenestration industry is also no exception. But it has also created a blessing in disguise for the companies to become more self-reliant by adopting ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.

Avanish Singh Visen, Chief Executive Officer, Encraft India, gives his opinion and says, “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (‘Made in India, made for the world), is the perfect thing for India to identify its manufacturing capabilities and use this crisis as an opportunity to scale up and become a manufacturing hub. 

It is a great mission to make use of our resources, potential, and capabilities across the country in various sectors fostering entrepreneurship, nurturing innovation, and creating an eco-system with a robust supply chain. In this wake, India’s industry leaders need to invest in building robust local supply chains that will strengthen India’s position in the global chain.”

Mario Schmidt, Managing Director, Lingel Windows and Doors Technologies Private Limited says, “One has to step out of the comfort zone and do the job efficiently and effectively. When a person becomes Atmanirbhar, he becomes more responsible and can overcome the day to day challenges. Atmanirbhar Bharat will have a positive impact on our sector as each one will become more accountable for what they do.”

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