Glass Windows

Our houses and buildings today have more glass than at any time in history.  We all just love looking out at the world and admiring its beauty.  OK, maybe it all is not quite so beautiful.  My wife and I were visiting our client in Newark and the motel looked over a junkyard.  The view from the desk and bed was OK … just as long as you didn’t walk over the to the window and look out from there.

As a boater, it is now quite clear that the windows to the master stateroom have grown exponentially, even if they are close to the waterline.  Years ago those windows were called portholes and were built like they were the front of diving helmets.  The main salon windows now are absolutely huge.

So what?  Well, energy efficiency of boats has never been a criteria.  After all, when you understand the fuel efficiency of a motor boat you quickly realize that is an oxymoron. When I grew up it was pretty common to think of getting 3-5 miles per gallon for my little outboard and the wooden skiff, and I could get even more if I kept the speed down.  Today’s modern yachts can get 2-3 miles per gallon if you keep the boat in a no wake condition, but they now consume between 2 and 10 gallons per mile at 20 mph and much worse if you go faster than that.

Of course, if you aren’t going anywhere, fuel efficiency doesn’t matter, and since we use our vessel as a floating condominium it actually makes sense compared to property in Sarasota.  In fact, it makes perfect sense, especially since our marina costs do not meter our electricity use.  We pay a flat fee for our power consumption, and ironically, because the marina doesn’t measure individual slip power consumption, they have no idea we use so much more electricity for both heating and cooling compared to the older boats here.

Why?  Because of the glass of course.

Today’s glazing is much more efficient than that of the past where it was about an R = 1.  The modern coatings and multiple panes can bring that up to about 4-5.  But, compared to modern wall materials, that is still pretty awful.  Modern walls are an R value of 15 and higher, and much higher if you really work at it.  Ceilings of course make these numbers look awful.

So what?  Why are we letting modern architects use so much glass if we are really obsessed with energy?  Because it helps sell you say?  Why, if this is an existential crisis, is selling good for the planet?  Because these newer homes and business buildings are better than the old ones?  Why do we need new buildings?

Why, why, why … and the list goes on if you are really thinking.

It is time to clearly recognize that the world’s path is irreconcilably conflicted if we fail to be willing to destroy economic growth.  We can’t mine our way out of the shortages of materials to build EVs and PVs.  We can’t power our way with renewables to a lower carbon footprint if we fail to stop growth of the world economies.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where breaking the glass ceiling, rightful as it is, takes precedence over facing obvious abuses like our glass windows.

I love our free capitalistic economy.  I am only pointing out that our corporations and politicians are all hypocrites if they think can continue growth this way.

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