By: V.S. Rajan, GEZE India Pvt Ltd
Energy conservation, climate change, and air quality are the words that we hear frequently nowadays. Over the last few years, we have witnessed a greater focus on the quality of living. Further, due to the pandemic situation, safety and hygiene have become important considerations for occupants of the buildings. In building structures, the fenestration system plays an important functional role., Doors and windows are integral to the building structure, be it residential, commercial, or education buildings to name a few. They act as a passage for entrance and exits for not only occupants but act as a barrier from external elements. The right balance of natural lighting, thermal control, air quality, and acoustics is desirable for people inside the building.
In major cities, the trend is for high-rise buildings. Also, in individual residences, clients have become more aware of the doors and windows. Today we see a trend for wider and taller doors and windows systems. The proper selection of the door and window is becoming important. There are several options available in window types sliding systems, swing systems, parallel opening windows, and skylight windows.
A wide variety of hardware system solutions are now available from indigenous and also from overseas manufacturers for doors and windows in both sliding and swing systems, be it for conventional systems or performance-based systems. However, careful consideration has to be given to understand the project requirements, like accessibility, structural requirements, performance parameters, local regulations, fire safety, environmental conditions, durability, and maintenance while considering hardware systems.
Hardware being the functional components of doors and windows, the correct selection of hardware components as per the system design and construction is needed for optimal performance of fenestration. It is no longer a case of one size fits all. Also, in the building structure, requirements of the hardware requirements can vary depending on the location, say for doors at the entrance of the buildings the hardware selection criteria may be different for interior doors or balcony doors. In high-rise structures the hardware requirements on windows and doors on the 4th floor can be different from requirements on say 43rd floor.
Improper selection, faulty design and construction with hardware will have a detrimental impact on fenestration quality and also impact the building structure. Air leakages, water seepage, and thermal loss, are a few manifestations that will impact fenestration functionality.
Few key considerations that are gaining prominence in fenestration are energy efficiency aspects Energy efficiency in buildings is becoming important, the air conditioning and lighting systems of a building consume a lot of energy. Therefore, buildings should be planned such that they use as much natural light and atmospheric cooling (or heat) as possible to minimise energy consumption. A good selection of hardware systems is thus important, as it has a direct impact on the interior environment of the building. A properly designed, engineered, installed and maintained fenestration will go a long way in complementing the building’s sustainability.
Building automation is another important factor to make the building more energy efficient. In intelligent building control, lighting, air conditioning, shade control, and door and window technology are linked together and automatically controlled. Energy consumption can be reduced significantly by intelligent automation. The reason: Sensors such as temperature sensors, air quality indicators, brightness sensors, movement detectors, or weather stations are more energy efficient than humans in their response. Windows are playing an increasing range of roles in modern buildings.
Large windows are in high demand currently, and not just for design reasons. They flood rooms with plenty of natural daylight and give users a feeling of warmth and freedom. In addition to technical factors such as light penetration, heat, sound, and burglary protection, plus resistance to wind and rain, they also have to take on important functions such as ventilation or smoke and heat extraction. They improve the indoor climate by providing natural ventilation, play a crucial part in respect of energy efficiency, and ensure smoke and heat extraction in the event of a fire. In addition, there are building-specific demands in terms of hygiene, comfort and safety.
Building automation improves not only the energy efficiency but also the indoor air quality. If smart window systems are centrally linked with the building management technology, rooms can be ventilated and supplied with fresh air as needed. The advantage: Automated window ventilation consumes lesser energy than most of the mechanical ventilation systems. In addition, heating costs can be saved if ventilation and heating are jointly controlled via building management technology.
Fresh outdoor air is important for a healthy indoor climate. As there is an increased risk of contracting viral infections from airborne particles in closed rooms, regular ventilation is recommended in order to ensure a good exchange of air. A good supply of fresh air can boost our ability to perform. In Schools for example a good supply of fresh air can boost our ability to learn by at least 15%. Today, doors have developed into multi-functional systems. This has been driven primarily by increasing demands for security and protection. Accessibility, convenience, fire protection scenarios, escape route planning, access control, and hygiene factors are important in doors, especially in building projects. The size, weight and material of the door must be considered. Here, for instance, frameless all-glass doors demand a different set of hardware as compared to framed glass doors
Door planning ensures smooth integration of systems and clarifies the purpose of the doors, bringing all the product groups together and coordinating them to allow for the seamless integration of different systems. This ensures that the numerous customer-specific and statutory specifications for the door, and the functions necessary to implement them, can be combined in the smartest way possible. Details on the lock and door fittings, as well as additional components like door closers, hold open systems, or door automation.
Regular Maintenance is an important consideration for the fenestration functionality. Maintenance is important in many cases to comply with the terms of some manufacturer’s warranties, which is another reason to ensure the products are maintained in accordance with the Operations & Maintenance Manuals. The operation of products with moving parts are needed to be maintained on a regular basis in order to ensure their continuous smooth operation and to prolong their operational life and longevity.
In conclusion, a fenestration system creates an immediate visual impact on the building structure, and its functionality contributes to live ability. The industry needs to follow the best practices and also adopt the latest technologies. The environment is changing and as an industry, we need to also contribute to creating more sustainable and healthy living.