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Understanding Fenestration

There are a variety of design considerations made by architects when determining the concept for a new building project. Many of these considerations involve new and innovative ways to improve the energy efficiency of a building in order to save money, increase occupancy comfort, and reduce the impact to the environment. One important consideration is the fenestration of a building. Fenestration is any opening in a building’s envelope including windows, doors and skylights. Anything placed into that opening (glass, frame, and attachments) is considered a part of that building’s fenestration. Understanding the effect of each component of fenestration and how to use that data to contribute to innovative design is key for architects and designers. All components of fenestration have a thermal impact and influence the overall performance and energy efficiency of a building. There are many factors concerning fenestration that an architect and/or designer should consider depending on the specific goals of the project. Is the design intent to reduce heat gain? Is the project goal to increase natural daylighting and reduce the dependency on artificial light? Is the main concern controlling visual comfort in an occupied environment? Understanding all the components of fenestration, how they work together and how this fenestration data is calculated can help answer many of these questions regarding design intent.

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