Sustainable Silicone

Building Blocks for Carbon Neutrality



Photo of Jon Kimberlain

Jon Kimberlain

TS&D Scientist

Dow Silicones

Photo of Adrienne Bowman-Grittini

Adrienne Bowman-Grittini

Senior Technical Service and Development Specialist

Dow Silicones

Photo of Stanley Yee

Stanley Yee

TS&D Scientist

Dow Silicones



Silicone materials have a long history in high performance building projects. Known for durability, they can reduce a building’s carbon footprint by improving energy performance.

Historically, silicone materials’ performance attributes enabled 50 years of successful applications in structural silicone glazing and use as a thermal break in energy-efficient glazing. Looking to the future, silicone-powered technologies will influence improved energy performance via unique secondary sealant technologies and hybrid materials.

Leveraging past knowledge, looking at present research and envisioning future technologies, silicone materials will be a vital building block for innovation to achieve carbon neutrality in building performance.


Room-temperature-vulcanizing (RTV) sealants rely on moisture in the air to crosslink polymers into a cured rubber with a range of physical properties depending on the polymer backbone. Once crosslinked, these

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History of Silicone Materials for Sustainable Buildings

An early use of silicone materials in construction was weathersealing horizontal glass tubes around the perimeter of a building located on the western shore of Lake Michigan in Climate Zone

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Structural Silicone Glazing

Structural silicone glazing originated in the 1960s when a sealant was used to stiffen the connection between glass plates to an interior glass fin to give the appearance of an

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Durability of Silicone-Based Materials

Durability of silicone-based materials is derived from its molecular composition (Noll, 2012). The polymer backbone is comprised of alternating silicon and oxygen molecules, as shown in Figure 4. Like the

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Hybrid Sealants

Hybrid sealants are formulated from combined chemistry sets of a different polymer backbone to a different reactive end to leverage the different performance characteristics of each (Klosowski, et. al., 2016)

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Conclusion and Future Work

Silicones have been a fundamental chemistry building block for high performance buildings for decades. Elasticity and weatherability enabled silicone-based materials to provide durable performance to manage air and water infiltration

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Rights and Permissions

Research and Markets, 2016. “Global Construction Industry Growth at 5.5%: Trends, Forecast, and Opportunity Analysis: Key Players are China Railway, China Railway Group, China State Construction Engineering, Grupo ACS & Vinci S.A - Research and Markets”.

Kimberlain, Jon, Brett Laureys, and Nathan Harres. "Investigation of Performance Factors for Silicone Sealant Installed in 1958 as a Weatherproofing Material into a Building in Climate Zone 6." In Durability of Building and Construction Sealants and Adhesives: 5th Volume. ASTM International, 2015.

EERE/Department of Energy. Windows and Buildings Envelope Research and Development. Washington, DC: U.S. DOE, 2014.U.S. DOE.

Carbary, Lawrence D., and Jon H. Kimberlain. "Structural silicone glazing: optimizing future designs based on historical performances." Intelligent Buildings International (2018): 1-11.

Carbary L. D., “A Review of the Durability and of Performance Silicone Structural Glazing Systems.” Glass Performance Days, Tampere Finland June 2007

Carbary, Lawrence D., Valerie Hayez, Andreas Wolf, and Mahabir Bhandari. "Comparisons of thermal performance and energy consumption of facades used in commercial buildings." Glass Performance Days, Tampere, Finland (2009).

Noll, Walter. Chemistry and technology of silicones. Elsevier, 2012.

Owen, Michael, and Klosowski, Jerry. “Durablity of Silicone Sealants.” In Adhesives, Sealants, and Coatings for Space and Harsh Environments. Springer Science and Business Media, 2013

Panek, Julian R., and John Philip Cook. Construction sealants and adhesives. Vol. 71. John Wiley & Sons, 1991.

Zhang, Haibing, and Andy Cloud. "The permeability characteristics of silicone rubber." In Proceedings of 2006 SAMPE Fall Technical Conference, pp. 72-75. 2006.

Klosowski, Jerome, and Andreas T. Wolf. Sealants in Construction. CRC Press, 2016.