Pros and cons of glass facade buildings

With many commercial and residential buildings across India opting for glass façades, we look at the advantages and disadvantages that this exterior material offers

One of the most noticeable trends in commercial real estate industry in India has been usage of glass for facades of the buildings. Indian cities, especially metros, have mostly glass façade buildings only these days. Glass definitely looks elegant and many of the corporate tenants prefer nice shiny buildings for office spaces. This is another reason real estate developers and architects prefer glass façades as they can ask for higher rents from tenants for their sassier and shinier buildings.

Glass, instead of walls, does provide unobstructed view to the occupants of the building and since glass can be molded and bent into any shape, it is of advantage to the architects and developers in many ways. It has many disadvantages, as well. Here we look at some of the key features of glass as façades of buildings.


Advantages of glass

  1. It adds to the beauty and panache of a building. Since it can be made translucent or molded in different shapes, it can offer a lot of flexibility to the architect in terms of usage in the building.
  2. Glass can transmit 75%-80% of the natural light in both the directions, something which no other substitute does. Glass can transmit light without clouding or yellowing.
  3. The glass is usually weather resistant so it can easily withstand different  weather conditions like rains, sun and wind. It does not lose its shape or shine in any weather.
  4. Glass does not rust so it is better than iron and does not succumb to its surrounding environment conditions.
  5. It usually has a smooth surface so in a way it is dust-proof. It requires minimal cleaning.
  6. It is versatile in the sense that when it is combined with laminated or colour sheets, it can offer various looks and appearances.
  7. It reduces weight on the foundation of the building and makes the building lighter as compared to walls.
  8. Right kind of glass can reduce energy consumption for the occupants of the building and bring down electricity bills.
  9. Glass façades require low maintenance and a swift monthly cleaning may be enough most of the time.
  10. Most glass types are abrasion resistant which means that it will not wear out when rubbed against another material.

See also: Anthony Raj: Indigenous architecture can make earth a better place


Disadvantages of glass

  1. Glass façades cause a lot of glare which is a major disadvantage of glass.
  2. Glass absorbs heat. This means that it can act as a greenhouse and hence, not suitable for countries with hot climates.
  3. Most glasses are not earthquake-resistant and not suitable for countries that witness frequent earthquakes. To ensure earthquake-resistant homes, a very expensive kind of treatment given to glass can make it earthquake-resistant but such type of glass is not very affordable.
  4. Use of glass in a building may result in higher costs in making the building safe and secure because glass results in a lot of transparency.
  5. Glass is a rigid and brittle material. This means it breaks easily when a sudden pressure is applied to it.


Pros and cons of glass façade buildings

Adds beauty to the overall spaceCauses a lot of glare
It can transmit natural light in both directionsAllows absorption of heat and act as a greenhouse
Usually weather-resistant and requires minimal cleaningGlass façades are not earthquake-resistant
Requires low maintenanceInvolves higher cost and breaks easily when sudden pressure is applied


Impact of glass façade building on environment

The extensive use of glass in buildings, may be counter-productive to global efforts towards sustainable and green buildings. Since such buildings take a lot of energy to heat and cool, most of the experts agree that glass façade buildings do not fit with most climates. Opaque walls result in lower energy consumption, as the heat is transferred to the exteriors at a very slow pace.



What are the advantages of using glass?

Glass buildings are mainly weather and rust-resistant. They are also dust-proof and water-proof.

Why is glass used in buildings?

It is used as transparent glazing material in buildings and windows.

Why are glass buildings bad for the environment?

Glass buildings do not fit well with most climates as it allows heat to pass in and out easily.

(With inputs from Surbhi Gupta)


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