Publications

Is your building melting cars? There’s a tool to solve that!

by Justin Shultz, Brandon Andow

June 11, 2020

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Glass is a fascinating material. It offers extraordinary aesthetics, can be transparent or translucent, may be reflective, or colored and glossy, but when it’s curved and on a high-rise building, it also can create problematic hot spots. Concave glass can focus the sun's rays onto a small area, like a magnifying glass that directs sunbeams into a hot pinpoint of light. Some refer to this solar convergence phenomenon as “death rays” with the capability of raising temperatures above 200 degrees Fahrenheit, potentially causing physical harm, warping furniture, harming foliage, and even melting cars. 

What can you do about it? The Green Lab uses validated radiation simulation tools to study glass reflections and understand where the sun’s rays will be concentrated at any time of day and any time of year. For example, during the design phase of a high-rise tower, the Green Lab discovered a potential hot spot from the curved, glass wall. The team was able to consider solutions such as alternative coatings, sun shading, and opaque materials, helping the client avoid possible costly alterations after construction.  

By using predictive modeling, you can have that gorgeous glass façade, the benefits of natural light, and the potential solar energy savings. Plus, you won’t scorch the sedan parked across the street. 

Justin Schultz headshot

Justin Shultz, PhD, BEMP

Senior Building Performance Analyst

Brandon Andow headshot

Brandon Andow, PhD, RA

Senior Building Performance Analyst

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