High-Performance Building Envelope

Triple Glazing and Bird-Safe Glass

Stony Brook University, Institute for Discovery and Innovation in Medicine and Engineering Building (I-DIME)
Stony Brook, New York

Designed to be net-zero-carbon-ready, this building will achieve the goal – in part – by optimizing the insulative properties of the building envelope. Doing so decreases the operational energy requirements of the building, and, thus, its carbon footprint.


While the overall opaque wall-to-window ratio is 4:1 – a very sustainable ratio – typical double-paned Insulated Glass Units (IGU) in curtain wall systems would not be sufficiently insulative for the requirements of this building. Therefore, the I-DIME building employs triple-paned IGU’s with an SHGC (Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient) of 0.32 and U-value of 0.28. This U-value is the equivalent of an R-3.6 wall, rather than the R-1.9 typical for double-paned IGU’s. The higher insulative value reduces both the heating and cooling load on the HVAC systems and, furthermore, eliminates the need for supplemental baseboard radiation throughout the building. (The increased first cost of the glazing system is essentially offset by the savings gleaned from not needing to install the baseboard heating system.)


Beyond the triple glazing itself, digital ceramic fritting will be applied to all east and west glazed façades. The 60% opaque pattern will reduce glare as well as morning and afternoon solar heat gain, thus reducing the cooling load and consequently the operational energy required by the building. Again, lowering operational energy reduces carbon footprint.


Separate from energy and carbon savings, the frit pattern on the glass will also serve an important bird-welfare purpose. Every year in the U.S. and Canada, it is estimated that as many as 600 million birds die in collisions with building glass. Because this building is located in a wooded location, bird flight paths are known to cross the site. The frit pattern is specifically designed to provide a needed visual avoidance cue to birds in flight that glazing is present in their path.

Learn more about the project here.