Glass Curtain Wall Technology and Sustainability in Commercial Buildings in Auckland, New Zealand


  • Yi Wu Estimating Services (NZ) Limited, Auckland
  • Claire Flemmer School of Built Environment, College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North,



Glass curtain wall, Stick-built, Unitized, Energy use, Sustainability


Glass curtain wall provides an attractive building envelope, but it is generally regarded as unsustainable because of the high energy needed to maintain thermal comfort. This research explores the advances in the technology of glass cladding and the complex issues associated with judging its sustainability. It assesses the technology and sustainability of glass curtain wall on a sample of thirty commercial buildings in Auckland, New Zealand. Field observations of the glass-clad buildings, coupled with surveys of the building occupants and of glass cladding professionals are used to investigate the cladding characteristics, operational performance, sustainability aspects and future trends. The majority of the sample buildings are low-rise office buildings. The occupants like the aesthetics and indoor environment quality of their glass-clad buildings. However, continuous heating, ventilation and air conditioning are needed in order to maintain thermal comfort within the buildings and this has high energy consumption. The increasing use of unitized systems with double glazing instead of stick-built systems with single glazing improves the sustainability of the cladding through less material wastage and better energy efficiency. Inclusion of photovoltaic modules in the curtain wall also improves energy efficiency but it is currently too expensive for use in New Zealand. Environmental sustainability is also improved when factors such as climate, the orientation of glazed façades, solar control, ventilation and the interior building layout are considered. Any assessment of glass curtain wall sustainability needs to consider the economic and social aspects as well as the environmental aspects such as energy use


Al-Kodmany, K. (2016). Sustainable Tall Buildings: Cases From The Global South. International Journal of Architectural Research. 10 (2): 52-66.

Arslan, G. & Eren, O. (2014). Analysis of effects of glass selection on energy efficiency in glass façade systems. Proceedings 4th International Conference on Advanced Construction, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Bae, M.J, Oh, J.H. & Kim, S.S. (2015). The effects of the frame ratio and glass on the thermal performance of a curtain wall system. Energy Procedia. 78 2488–2493.

Baggs, D. (2015). All-glass facades won’t exist in sustainable cities. Sourceable Industry News and Analysis, Architecture. Retrieved October, 2019, from

Barkkume, A. (2007). Innovative Building Skins: Double Glass Wall Ventilated Façade. Innovative Building Skins: Double Glass Wall Ventilated Façade. Research paper for New Jersey School of Architecture, pp. 1-26. Retrieved October, 2019, from

Bedon, C. (2017). Structural Glass Systems under Fire: Overview of Design Issues, Experimental Research, and Developments. Hindawi Advances in Civil Engineering, 2017, ID 2120570, 1-18.

Bedon, C. & Amadio, C. (2018). Numerical Assessment Of Vibration Control Systems For Multi-Hazard Design And Mitigation Of Glass Curtain Walls. Journal of Building Engineering. 15: 1-13.

Bennett, A.F. (1987). Structural glazing in New Zealand: Development and current status. Building Research Association of New Zealand report # 13, National Building Technology Centre Seminar on Glazing, Sydney, Australia, 1-13.

Bouden, C. (2007). Influence of Glass Curtain Walls On The Building Thermal Energy Consumption Under Tunisian Climatic Conditions: The Case Of Administrative Buildings. Renewable Energy. 32(1): 141–156.

Butera, F.M. (2005). Glass architecture: is it sustainable? International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Cooling for the Built Environment, Santorini, Greece, 1-8.

Byrd, H. & Leardini, P. (2011). Green Buildings: Issues for New Zealand. Procedia Engineering. 21: 481-488.

Cuce, E., Cuce, P.M. & Young, C.H. (2016). Energy Saving Potential Of Heat Insulation Solar Glass: Key Results From Laboratory And In-Situ Testing. Energy. 97: 369-380.

Cuce, E., Young, C.H. & Riffat, S.B. (2015a). Thermal Performance Investigation Of Heat Insulation Solar Glass: A Comparative Experimental Study. Energy and Buildings. 86: 595–600.

Cuce, E. Riffat, S.B. & Young, C.H. (2015b). Thermal Insulation, Power Generation, Lighting And Energy Saving Performance Of Heat Insulation Solar Glass As A Curtain Wall Application In Taiwan: A Comparative Experimental Study. Energy Conversion and Management. 96: 31–38.

Ding, G.K.C. (2008). Sustainable Construction – The Role Of Environmental Assessment Tools. Journal of Environmental Management. 86: 451-464.

Flemmer, C.L. & Flemmer, R.C. (2005). Measures Of Sustainability: What Do They Mean And How Well Do They Work? Proceedings of the 2005 Australia-New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics (ANZSEE) Conference, Palmerston North, New Zealand, pp. 1-10.

Futcher, J., Mills, G., Emmanuel, R & Korolija, I. (2017). Creating Sustainable Cities One Building At A Time: Towards An Integrated Urban Design Framework. Cities. 66: 63-71.

Hachem, C. & Elsayed, M. (2016). Patterns of Façade System Design For Enhanced Energy Performance Of Multistorey Buildings. Energy and Buildings. 130: 366–377.

Kassem, M., Dawood, N. & Mitchell, D. (2012). A Decision Support System For The Selection Of Curtain Wall Systems At The Design Development Stage. Construction Management and Economics. 30(12): 1039-1053.

Kazmierczak, K. (2010). Review of Curtain Walls, Focusing On Design Problems And Solutions, Proceedings of the Building Enclosure Science and Technology Conference (BEST2) Conference (pp.1-20). Portland, Oregon.

Kumar, G. & Raheja, G. (2016). Design Determinants Of Building Envelope For Sustainable Built Environment. International Journal of Built Environment and Sustainability. 3(2): 111-118.

Lim, J.Q.Y. & Gu, N. (2007). Environmental Impacts Of Ventilation And Solar Control Systems In Double Skin Façade Office Buildings. 41st Annual Conference of the Architectural Science Association, Victoria, Australia, 149-156.

Maheswaran, U. & Zi, A.G. (2007). Daylighting and Energy Performance Of Post Millennium Condominiums in Singapore. International Journal of Architectural Research. 1(1): 26-35.

Manz, H. (2004). On minimizing heat transport in architectural glazing. Renewable Energy. 33(1): 119-128.

Mehta, M., Scarborough, W. & Armpriest, D. (2018). Building Construction: Principles, Materials and Systems. 3rd edition. New York: Pearson Education.

Onyeizu, R. (2014). The Delusion Of Green Certification: The Case Of New Zealand Green Office Buildings. Proceedings of 4th New Zealand Built Environment Research Symposium (NZBERS), Auckland, New Zealand. 1-20.

Onyeizu, E. & Byrd, H. (2011). Understanding the Relationship between Occupants’ Productivity and Daylighting in Commercial Buildings: A Review of Literature. 5th International Conference & Workshop on Built Environment in Developing Countries (ICBEDC), Penang, Malaysia. 1-13.

Pariafsai, F. (2016). A Review Of Design Considerations In Glass Buildings. Frontiers of Architectural Research. 5: 171-193.

Selkowitz, S.E., Lee, E.S. & Aschehoug, O. (2003). Perspectives on Advanced Facades With Dynamic Glazings And Integrated Lighting Controls. CISBAT 2003, Innovation in Building Envelopes and Environmental Systems International Conferences on Solar Energy in Buildings (pp.1-7). Lausanne, Switzerland.

Shameri, M.A., Alghoul, M.A., Elayeb, O., Zain, M.F.M., Alrubaih, M.s., Amir, H. & Sopian, K. (2013). Daylighting Characteristics Of Existing Double-Skin Façade Office Buildings. Energy and Buildings. 59: 279-286.

Simmler, H. & Binder, B. (2008). Experimental and Numerical Determination Of The Total Solar Energy Transmittance Of Glazing With Venetian Blind Shading. Building and Environment. 43: 197-204.

Young, C.H., Chen, Y.L. & Chen, P.C. (2014). Heat Insulation Solar Glass And Application On Energy Efficiency Buildings. Energy and Buildings. 78: 66–78.




How to Cite

Wu, Y., & Flemmer, C. (2020). Glass Curtain Wall Technology and Sustainability in Commercial Buildings in Auckland, New Zealand. International Journal of Built Environment and Sustainability, 7(2), 57–65.