The True Cost of Triple Glazing: Weight, Expense, and Overkill

Architects and building designers today face a formidable challenge – creating envelopes that meet stringent energy codes and rigorous performance requirements. With the proliferation of strict “stretch codes” for commercial buildings, project teams often turn to triple glazing as an easy route to superior insulation. But this knee-jerk specification comes at a cost beyond just the windows themselves.

The added weight of triple-pane IGUs demands beefier structural framing. The expensive units also pile on to material spend. In many cases, new technologies offer equivalent thermal performance in an easier-to-handle, and easier-to-afford, single-glazed package. This also allows designers to save money, effort, and material across the entire building structure.

The Heavy Burden of Triple Glazing

Let’s compare some numbers to understand the weight impact of triple glazing. A standard 1″ insulating glass unit (IGU) with low-e coating and argon fill weighs about 3.5 lbs per square foot. Moving to a typical triple-glazed IGU means adding a third lite of glass and a second gas fill space. That pushes the unit weight to around 5 lbs per square foot or more.  40-50% increase over the double-glazed equivalent.

While a few extra pounds per window may not seem significant, consider the implication across a whole multi-story curtain wall. The dead weight adds up quickly. To compensate, the curtain wall framing, anchors, and supporting structure may need to be upsized substantially. Bulkier mullions and framing detract from the transparency and aesthetics that often drive glass façade designs. Higher capacity anchors may require thicker slabs or deeper footings. This compounds quickly into added material and labor costs throughout the building structure.

An Expensive Endeavor

Aside from indirect structural impacts, triple glazing introduces major direct expenses as well. The extra lite of glass, additional sealants and spacer materials, incremental framing, and more complex fabrication boost the per-unit price. Industry averages peg triple-glazed products as two to three times more expensive than comparable dual-glazed units.

Compounding fabrication and component costs with weight-driven structure upsizes leads to astronomic budget overruns. Real dollar estimates depend heavily on the specific project. However, additional spending can easily swell into six figures. This is for a commercial building utilizing a triple-glazed curtain wall or window system.

Function Over Form: Specifying the Right Glass

Fortunately, triple glazing itself aims to solve a problem that the latest construction innovations have already addressed. Revolutionary new composite IGUs from certain envelope specialists can achieve the same brutal thermal performance and condensation resistance that architects expect from triple glazing. But they deliver it in a cost-effective, easy-to-integrate, single-glazed package.

FreMarq Innovations, for example, produces aluminum windows and curtain walls with astonishing U-values as low as 0.24 using standard 1″ glazing units. Our Zero•Net™ fenestration products can outperform many triple-glazed fenestration systems. By specifying solutions like these, designers can meet their energy and efficiency goals without driving up weight or breaking the bank.

Getting More From Double Glazing

Today’s most advanced building envelope assemblies escape the compromises and harsh budgets imposed by visually appealing but structurally challenging triple IGUs. Architects seeking the best balance of thermal prowess, effortless integration, and value can connect with specialists producing these next-generation dual-pane technologies. Keeping material light and budgets in check often comes down to having the right window, framing, and glazing partner on board from the earliest stages of design.

FreMarq Innovations leverages the latest glazing innovations to create high-efficiency curtain wall and window assemblies without the need for cumbersome and costly triple glazing. Our products also achieve unmatched thermal performance and condensation resistance using standard 1″ insulating glass units.

For example, FreMarq’s assembled commercial windows boast U-Values as low as 0.24 with dual pane glazing. This surpasses the performance of many triple-glazed systems on the market today. Our advanced thermal breaks, composite framing, and multi-chamber construction set us apart from competitors who can only meet the latest strict energy code requirements through overdesigned triple glazing.

By specifying FreMarq for your next building envelope project, you gain access to the industry’s best thermal performance in an affordable, lightweight commercial window system. Keeping material light and budgets in check often comes down to having the right window, framing, and glazing partner on board from the earliest stages of design.

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