We have been complaining for years about how much energy is being wasted by building towers with floor to ceiling glass; now The Urban Green Council warns that it could be deadly. In a new report, Baby, it's cold inside, they claim that in a major power failure during the heat of summer or the cold of winter, they could be deadly.
Without electricity, buildings are dependent on whatever protection is provided by their walls, windows, and roof. In today’s buildings, that protection is modest at best. If it wore clothing, the typical New York City building would have a light jacket on—not what you’d wear outside in winter, and certainly not performance gear.
They point out that older buildings were built differently, and not so reliant on constant supply of energy.
One hundred years ago, buildings heated by wood or coal faced cold indoor temperatures if fuel ran out. But they did not depend on electricity to run their heating systems and would not suddenly lose heat all at once. Similarly, buildings with natural ventilation didn’t depend on air conditioning and fans. Today’s buildings are different, and we face the risk of a power outage causing a widespread, immediate loss of heating or cooling capabilities citywide.
They call for higher standards of building performance, including more insulation, better windows, a reasonable window to wall proportion, proper sealing and shading. Which sounds a whole lot like what regular readers of TreeHugger will have read before.
Meanwhile, in the Wall Street Journal, intrepid reporters asked apartment owners what they thought of floor to ceiling glass. One couple describes their $ 6.35 million apartment:
The 3,100-square-foot apartment on the 10th floor has high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, and is a short walk to their children's school. "The glass walls are great," she said. "You have a view of Manhattan city life at night that is unbeatable."