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Kirsty Hammond looks at the benefits of the use of glass in our buildings

Glass has had a presence within our lives for thousands of years.

The material, due to its translucence, meets today's desire for increased transparency. It allows a view of both inside and out and lends a feeling of serenity and space to our homes and living spaces.

Glass is a resistant, stable building material. It is hygienic and easy to maintain.

Used in architecture glass, has been used as a construction material for many years. The invention of steel coupled with glass in the late nineteenth century underpinned the development of architecture in the twentieth century and the buildings we see today.

Glass buildings contribute to our wellbeing and improved mental health.

Kirsty Hammond Kirsty Hammond Editor of Specifier Review


In more recent decades the use of glass has increased hugely, the advent of green technology in construction has allowed glass to undergo a renaissance.

From solar powered glass to roofs to load bearing walls, glass is without doubt here to stay.

In recent years designers have begun to specify glass for structural applications. There is little else that can rival glass as a material with both versatility and aesthetic appeal.

Recent innovations have elevated glass to be one of the most significant materials in building construction globally.


Glass has been a smart choice for many years but is still often overlooked. As far back as 1961, St George’s School, Wallasey was constructed using glass and successfully captured free solar heat.

The heating needs of the building were minimised, this leap forward led the way for our current focus on intelligent buildings. The constant technological advances in glass mean that huge glazed surfaces are now integral in low energy buildings.

New construction will need to be energy efficient if we are to meet the daunting but necessary zero carbon targets of 2050.

Based on the reuse, recycle circular approach not only the impact of manufacturing will be critical but also the materials used.

Glass generates minimal environmental impact. Glass is made of abundant non polluting raw material, the manufacturing process is highly efficient, uses low levels of water and generates a small amount of waste. Glass products are also recyclable at the end of their life.


Glass is a sustainable, fully recyclable material. Used as a construction material it can provide many environmental benefits. As a material it can be considered in the challenge of climate change. Glass will help save our natural resources.

Glass is a successful insulator, less known it can also be beneficial for use in the automotive industry, aviation and other polluting sectors, glass can be weight-lightening when used as glass fibre. It can generate renewable energy through solar-thermal and photovoltaic application.

The beauty of glass is obvious, but it is also a resource efficient material made from abundant sand and glass waste. It fulfills the closed loop that we all need to adopt.

Aesthetic beauty

There is a huge array of glass and glazing options at the fingertips of architects and engineers. Glass can be adopted as a decorative element in buildings, homes and even multi-storey construction.

The transparency and translucency of glass ensures aesthetic beauty to any building. It helps to create elegant spaces in any part of the building. The way in which light transmits through glass in a building is so stunning that it has evolved into a powerful tool for an architect.

Nowadays, glass is an essential part of many facades and roofs. No other material can replicate the aesthetic quality of a glass. It kicks in as a new opportunity for designers and architects to outline the designs creatively. It forms an essential part of the building designs driving the designers to use it widely.

In recent times, in many countries glass construction has become the symbol of development where these buildings are seen as a symbol of affluence and luxury.

As far as construction goes, large glazed areas are used not only for their energy saving properties but for the natural light that can be harnessed within a building.

Glass buildings contribute to our wellbeing and improved mental health.

Could we even see the hospitals of the future being transparent? Given that we spend 80% of our lives inside, the provision of daylight is crucial.

Kirsty Hammond Editor of Specifier Review