The two sides of a double-skin facade: built intelligent skin or brand image scam?
Authors: Safamanesh, Bahareh; Byrd, Hugh
Double-skin facade (DSF) buildings regularly appear in popular architectural journals and claims are made that the buildings are either ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘intelligent’. This results in myths about the performance of buildings that are perpetuated by designers eager to maintain a brand image. A literature review of research on the performance of DSFs reveals that the vast majority of the analysis is carried out by simulation methods and that there is a lack of empirical evidence obtained from monitored buildings.
This paper will present some early findings from buildings with DSFs that are currently being monitored to assess the contribution of a DSF to reducing the building’s cooling load. It will also analyse the physics behind the common simulation models to examine whether the models are a reasonable representation of reality. Initial evidence indicates that DSFs in sub-tropical climates offer little energy savings and could even contribute to increasing cooling loads.
It is argued that buildings that have implemented DSFs would be more energy efficient if the proportion of glass in the true elevations had been reduced rather than applying a DSF. It is the hypothesis of this paper that a DSF has become a way in which an excessively glazed building can maintain its transparent architectural image while still claiming to be ‘green’.