Float glass manufacture is an energy-consuming process, but many of our products reduce energy consumption when used in buildings. It is important to consider this overall balance when assessing environmental impact.
Energy issues are key to the building glass industry, as glass products can make an important contribution to combating climate change. Different types of glass we have developed over the years, especially low-emissivity double glazing and solar control glazing, can significantly reduce the need for heating and cooling in buildings, thereby reducing energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions.
In regions where the ambient temperature is often uncomfortably hot, the increasing tendency, as people aspire to a better lifestyle or have more disposable income, is to install air conditioning and that of course brings with it an energy and carbon burden. In that case, the primary objective is to keep heat out. Residential and non-residential buildings that use more energy than necessary to stay cool are a major source of unnecessary CO₂ emissions. Solar control glass allows sunlight to pass through glazing while radiating and reflecting away a large degree of the sun’s heat. The indoor space stays bright and much cooler than would be the case if normal glass were used.
The huge potential for energy savings and CO₂ emission reductions from using high performance glazing in Europe has been quantified in a study from Glass for Europe.
Commissioned by the European trade association of flat glass manufacturers, of which NSG Group is an active member, comprehensive modelling was undertaken by Dutch scientific institute TNO. The research reports energy and CO₂ savings that can be realised for heating and cooling of buildings across EU Member States by 2030 and 2050.
If all buildings in Europe were installed with windows incorporating high performance glazing, the study found that:
• 75 Mtoe1 of energy could be saved annually, equivalent to a reduction of energy consumption of nearly 30% in buildings
• Almost half of these energy savings can be realised in 10 years, by doubling the annual window renovation rate
• Up to 94 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year could be avoided
1 Mtoe is one million tonnes of oil equivalent.
The findings of this research emphasise the need for EU and national policies to put energy efficiency first and increase renovation rates of our building stock using high performance glazing available on the market today.
More information about this study, including a breakdown for each country, can be found in the Glass for Europe 'Glazing Potential' publication: