Dangers of All-Glass Living: Report Details Heat Gain in Glass Buildings

East, Newsletter, Sustainability
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Three glass residential towers stand along Manhattan's West Street at dusk. (Dan Nguyen / Flickr)

Three glass residential towers stand along Manhattan’s West Street at dusk. (Dan Nguyen / Flickr)

As glass towers continue to fill-in New York City’s skyline, it’s easy to be jealous of the wealthy elites and their glossy homes in the clouds. While those floor-to-ceiling windows offer some killer views, they may also pose serious health threats to those inside the glass curtains.

(Courtesy Urban Green / USGBC)

(Courtesy Urban Green / USGBC)

According to a new report by the Urban Green Council, people living in all-glass apartments could experience dangerously high temperatures during a summer blackout—similar to the one experienced after Hurricane Sandy. On the first day of a potential power outage, temperatures inside one of these sky-high fishbowls could rise to nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. By the seventh day, they could reach triple digits (see chart below).

Joaquin Phoenix in "Her." (Warner Bros.)

Joaquin Phoenix in Her. (Warner Bros.)

There’s more bad news—these buildings don’t fare much better in the winter. The study finds that “between two buildings that are otherwise equivalent, the one with more window area will be colder during a winter blackout.” That Slanket isn’t looking so funny right about now.

And for all the money tenants are paying for those floor-to-ceiling windows, it seems that they’re kind of over the views. An earlier report by the Urban Green Council found that 59 percent of window area in all-glass apartments is covered. Inside these glass houses—curtains drawn—most residents are just watching Netflix like the rest of us.

But to be fair, considering all the new glass construction in New York, their view probably isn’t so much a soaring skyline, but an intimate look into their neighbor’s living room across the street. Turns out it’s not so lonely at the top after all.

(Courtesy Urban Green / USGBC)

(Courtesy Urban Green / USGBC)

One Response to “Dangers of All-Glass Living: Report Details Heat Gain in Glass Buildings”

  1. Michael Benami Doyle says:

    This is not news. It already happens in buildings like this and always has. Building-wide HVAC system needs repair? Exterior or balcony work in buildings with on-balcony HVAC units? Both of these situations trigger no cooling for temporary periods–sometimes extended periods. My residential tower in Chicago has suffered through the latter of these scenarios for each of the past two summers. I can attest to how hot it gets, even with curtains drawn. It isn’t, however, a new phenomenon.

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