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Aspects of sustainable fenestrations

Text: Nitin Mehta, Executive Director, ALCOI

Sustainability is now an essential aspect when designing built environments, even more amid a global climate crisis in an Indian environment. The country experiences a sub-tropical climate while the frontier regions experience harsher weather, which impacts the architectural character of the region’s built environment. Also, they are affected by the region’s cultural dominance and traditional building methods.

Fenestrations are now an integral functional element for spaces, which must be combined with passive site-responsive and context-specific measures. One must address the higher urban densities that create more footfalls in the public space. There is a rapid increase in urban and suburban skylines as the built environment continues to grow vertically. Thus, facades have now become ventilating and aesthetic structural elements.

One must use durable materials such as aluminium to ensure quality and longevity in fenestration, primarily due to its anti-corrosive and high malleable abilities. It is easy to innovate and work with, guarantees longevity and lends excellent value, is recyclable and consumes less energy than steel during its manufacturing and recycling process.

Primary requisites include ensuring thermal comfort through natural ventilation and light within a space and are available in toughened, tempered and laminated glass variants. The right choice lowers the mechanical load on light and ventilation, ensures higher energy efficiency and prioritises natural light and ventilation. Indigenous and locally-sourced materials reduce costs; have a longer lifespan, recyclable and are durable and cost-effective.

One can support fenestration technology using ventilated facades, sun-shading devices and dry stone cladding to reduce heat gain. Also, they can design the building mass following the site’s orientation to optimise solar absorption. User-friendly, flexible and openable fenestrations yield maximum benefits.