Glass is essentially an infinitely recyclable material and it is this attribute that secures glass its place in the hall of fame for sustainability, recycling and the environment. Glass is manufactured from naturally occurring minerals including silica, which depending on the glass application makes up over seventy per cent of the end glass product. Glass is the primary construction material of the modern era and is used in the creation of anything from entire glass buildings to smaller fixtures within buildings such as glass partitions and glass worktops. Glass is the fundamental constituent in a passive solar building design where windows, walls and floors are built to collect, store and distribute solar energy. In other words, there is little need for machine-based heating and air conditioning and hence less of an adverse effect on the environment.
The use of glass in construction also allows for the control of light by allowing access to the good rays and keeping the more dangerous ones out. To add to its environmental kudos, glass is inherently non-toxic and its surface is naturally flat, which actively discourages contaminants. Glass’s recyclability properties and the use of recycled glass in standard and specialised production is fast becoming standard practice. Although not widespread yet, more and more recycled glass is used as a construction material in buildings and for common fixtures such as glass partitions and glass worktops within buildings.
Green buildings are more than a 21st century environmental fancy; they are also easy on the eye and far more aesthetically pleasing than construction materials such as concrete. Architects design glass constructions for performance and the environmental value these constructions provide. Buildings are optimised to be energy efficient and the insulating properties of the glass products reflect the structure’s usage, whether for commercial or residential purposes.