What's going to happen to all those glass towers?

Toronto glass
CC BY 2.0 Loozrboy

We have written numerous articles on the problems of all-glass buildings, so I was asked to be on the Globe and Mail's Globe Now video to discuss the issue, and the future of all those glass buildings built in Toronto, but it has relevance to other cities as well. John Massengale wrote recently in New York about why all the builders love glass:

The modern glass curtain wall on most iconic towers is cheap, for four reasons: the materials are cheap; the fabrication of the glass walls, frequently made in China, is cheap; the curtain walls require little craftsmanship or skilled labor; and the manufacturers take the computer drawings of the architects and translate them into construction drawings, saving the architects work as well.

And he is talking about the iconic buildings. I am talking about the run of the mill condos that have the great views but the cheap floor to ceiling aluminum framed window wall, where the different rates of expansion and contraction between aluminum and glass will eat away at the seals, where the argon will leak out of the double glazing and get even worse thermally, and which are uncomfortable summer because of the hot sun and winter because of the heat loss through the glass and through the radiator fin balconies. Listen to five minutes of me:

What's going to happen to all those glass towers?
Lloyd Alter talks about glass walls and radiator fin balconies, and why in fifteen or twenty years there may be a big bill to pay.

Related Content on Treehugger.com