Multifunctional Building Material Glass - A Colourful Bunch Of Requirements

Building Material Glass - Considerations Of Modern Architectural Glass Design



Glass as a building material plays a very important role in modern architecture, determines our visual landscape, and fulfills practical functions individually customized to versatile needs. No matter if thermal insulation, solar control or sound insulation, particular design effects, safety glass or glass as a component of solar-energy assemblies – the industry currently provides glass products with individual technical properties appropriate for various purpose and performance. Looking at the use of glass today, requires to understanding different topics related to the building material glass itself such as anisotropy effects, the technical specifications of the huge variety of glass configurations but also how to define the appropriate glass thickness.


Photo of Michael Elstner

Michael Elstner

Director of Technical Advisory Service & Strategic Communication

AGC Glass

Photo of Steffen Schäfer

Steffen Schäfer




State-of-the-art glass design in building is a challenge for all parties involved: architects, engineers, consultants as well as suppliers and contractors. The building material glass must comply with various specifications and requirements. It starts with structural requirements, goes on with production capabilities, and ends up with visual and aesthetic expectations. Figure 1 summarizes all of it in a simplified manner. Popular topics prioritized in the last years’s papers, are summarized here.

Figure 1: Requirements for glass products
Figure 1: Requirements for glass products

The last two decades have been a major step forward for the application of glass. Due to advanced production technologies, progress in material analytics and also related to the determining the technical data, the options to use glass in many different applications and with improved quality standards . Also, the interest in research about the material glass grew over the last 20 years, to better understand the behavior and the properties of glass. Figure 1 is illustrating generally which requirements are set to the building product glass. Depending on the application some of these requirements are voluntary or mandatory or even some more could apply. It is important that all parties work together right in time to reach the expected goal.

This paper describes some of the important topics which we have been addressed over the last years. It must be mentioned that the decision making process should take into account but not be limited to these four topics, but also consider others aspects as shown in Figure 1.

Technical Data of Glass Products

To use glass in different building applications, it must be further processed into architectural glazing products which can fulfill the multiple requirements set by regulations or the design of a

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Anisotropy Effects

Amongst the latest architectural glass requirements, visible anisotropic effects acquired special relevance over the last years as increasing amounts of heat-treated glass were used in buildings to meet the stringent

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Thermal Stress Analysis

The use of glass in windows and curtain walls in residential as well as in high-rise buildings needs to be designed very carefully. Apart from typical engineering practices which addresses

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Structural Calculation of Glass

ASTM E1300 is the main US standard for determining the load resistance of glass in buildings. The safety concept is based on a “Failure Prediction Model (FPM)”. Depending on the

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.


The four topics described above are not new subjects. But it shows that there is still a great potential for basic research in glass appropriate and sustainable design For certain

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Rights and Permissions

[1] Wilson H. R., Elstner M, Spot Landing: Determining the Light and Solar Properties of Fritted and Coated Glass, Challenging Glass 6, Conference Proceedings, 2018.

[2] Jonsson, J.C., Wilson H.R., Bilokur, M. (2021) “Preliminary report on LBNL 2019 inter-laboratory comparison for laboratories submitting scattering glazing data to the CGDB”, LBNL web site:, direct link

[3] NFRC 300, National Fenestration Rating Council Document NFRC 300-2020[E0A0], NFRC 300-2020[E0A0]: Test Method for Determining the Solar Optical Properties of Glazing Materials and Systems 2020

[4] NFRC 301, National Fenestration Rating Council Document NFRC 301-2020[E0A0], NFRC 301-2020[E0A0]: Standard Test Method for Emittance of Glazing Products, 2020

[5] ICON, Cloud-Based Semantic Structures, Verified Models and Advanced Experimental Methods for Optical and Thermal Characterization of Building Envelopes and their Components, including those inaccessible to current methods, Final Report February 09, 2022. Can be downloaded from

[6] Hidalgo L., Elstner M., ANISOTROPIC EFFECTS IN ARCHITECTURAL GLASS, Façade Tectonics World Congress 2018

[7] Dix, S.; Müller, P.; Schuler, C.; Kolling, S.; Schneider, J. (2021): Digital image processing methods for the evaluation of optical anisotropy effects in tempered architectural glass using photoelastic measurements. In Glass Struct Eng 11 (6), p. 10. DOI: 10.1007/s40940-020-00145-3

[8] Dix, Steffen; Schuler, Christian; Kolling, Stefan (2022): Digital full-field photoelasticity of tempered architectural glass: A review. In Optics and Lasers in Engineering 153. DOI: 10.1016/j.optlaseng.2022.106998.

[9] Polakova M., Schäfer S, Elstner M., Thermal Glass Stress Analysis – Design Considerations”, Challenging Glass 6Conference on Architectural and Structural Applications of Glass Delft University of Technology, May 2018,

[10] Doebbel, F.; Elstner, M.; Patterson, M.; Davis, W.: Optimized Secondary Seal of Insulating Glass Units for Structural Sealant Glazing Application, GlassCon Global Conference Proceedings 2014, Philadelphia 2014.