Safety trends in building glass are addressed in a relatively new discipline – yes, you can even get a degree in it – called fenestration. Created as a master’s degree program and professional certification by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, a fenestration degree encompasses test methods, code requirements, product and material information, and technical and performance standards for the use of glass in building projects.

Any exterior door installation company that deals in storefront doors and windows technically specializes in fenestration, which is basically just the arrangement and composition of all the doors and windows in a given building/space. Just as important as appearance, the specs of your commercial glass entry doors and windows are important factors in the safety, security and efficiency of your facility.

This not only results in financial gains for your business, but increases the comfort and environmental quality of the inside of your business. How? Proper fenestration in a facility can eliminate things like drafts, cold or hot areas in rooms, and decrease buildup of moisture and mold growth.

Fenestration Trends & Commercial Glass Entry Doors

So, what’s driving the need for this new master’s degree? And why should a business owner looking at a commercial door glass replacement in a renovation or new building project care? Building owners expect a lot from the glass in their doors and windows. They want security, energy efficiency, attractive designs, and also an assurance that glass doors and windows can withstand extreme weather. A consultant who is schooled in fenestration can help guide builders in these areas.

But building owners are also looking towards upcoming fenestration trends that make their business’ glass doors and windows more than just pieces of glass inside frames. They want clean lines, natural light, and operable windows that allow for an indoor-outdoor feel. This has resulted in a boom in new products, including dynamic new storefront systems, tilt-and-turn windows, and automatic doors.

Having a specialist in fenestration involved in the installation or replacement of your storefront door and window system can be useful as new fenestration products and business owners’ needs complicate the situation. A fenestration degree allows an exterior door installer to optimize ease of use, operability, and security at each glass port of entry/exit at a commercial facility.

Fenestration Developments in Storefront Doors & Windows

Manufacturers have responded to demand for new types of fenestration for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the solutions to various problems building owners and managers face:

  • A thin, lightweight glazing product has been designed to hold glass together on impact for four minutes – long enough to give occupants a meaningful lead in case of emergency. The quarter-inch thick glass holds together under impact with heavy lamination between two safety glass panels. Compare this to installing bulletproof glass, which can be up to 3 inches thick and cost significantly more that this lightweight product.
  • SchoolGuard Glass is a type of window glass developed in response to the Sandy Hook massacre. The glass panes are lightweight, but there’s a heavy layer of lamination between them that’s meant to give people inside up to 4 minutes before the glass is breached by force of an intruder.
  • To bring down the shocking figure of 300 million birds killed each year by collisions with glass, Guardian Glass Bird1st has developed bird-friendly exterior glazings. These glazings are applied to laminated glass to break up reflectivity and to make the glass more visible to birds. Similarly, many window manufacturers now make window glass that is reflective on the outside.
  • SageGlass Harmony offers in-pane tinting that eliminates defined lines between clear areas and tinted areas. Tinting blocks heat gain and glare without restricting views.
  • Safti First offers Superclear 45-HS-LI. The product uses low-iron glass for super-high visual clarity, with visible light transmission of 90 percent (compared to 88 percent for premium filmed ceramic).
  • Manufacturers continue to produce highly insulating windows that are more energy efficient, with triple pane glass, and low-E, but with an eye to bringing the cost down.
  • Impact-rated glass for storefront doors and windows is laminated and treated to resist things like extreme wind or force from someone trying to break in. This is an important feature in a building being able to withstand acute weather events.

Learning How to Read Fenestration Information on Commercial Glass Products

The National Fenestration Rating Council (yes, that’s a thing) has created an involved analysis and certification process for glass used in commercial door and window settings. They rate several variables that tell potential customers about the qualities of the glass:

  • U-Value: the level to eliminate heat transfer at the portal.
  • SHGC (Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient): ability to reduce heat and UV intrusion from sunlight.
  • VT (Visible Transmittance): Clarity of the glass.

This database allows architects, engineers and commercial door installation and maintenance specialists to easily calculate the energy-efficiency of any type, size and arrangement of fenestration system. They do this by analyzing the above variables for the three seal-out spots in a storefront door or window: frame, spacer, and glazing.

So, when planning your next commercial glass installation for your facility’s entry doors and windows, make sure to consult with an expert in fenestration before you invest in a storefront system; it will be well worth it in safety, security and energy-efficiency of your business over the long term.