The Wicked Problem of Façade System Assessment
Keywords:Façades, building skin, curtainwall, building envelope, façade performance metrics, façade performance , sustainable façade systems, building resilience
Building façades are key to the building systems integration necessary to realise critical health, carbon,
resilience, and sustainability goals in buildings and urban habitats. In addition, façade system design
and delivery may be the most rapidly developing building technology, with novel materials, assemblies
and techniques introduced in the marketplace frequently. However, these developments are occurring
in the long-running absence of an appropriate framework for façade system performance evaluation.
There has been no general convergence on the assessment criteria nor, for the most part, on the metrics
to accompany those criteria. The convergence of myriad and often competing variables that characterise
the building façade mark the development of a comprehensive integrative assessment framework as
a wicked problem, The lack of such a framework inhibits meaningful development and adoption of
innovative façade technology, leaving aesthetic considerations to drive application and compromising
the evolution of performative system behaviour. It prohibits a meaningful comparison between façade
systems, or of new techniques with prior applications. Adoption of new façade technology is constrained
as designers, building owners, and, most importantly, authorities with jurisdiction at the level of city
government are unable to accurately value its performative contribution to occupants, to a building
project, or to the urban environment.
Very early efforts and thinking in the development of a comprehensive Integrative Façade Assessment
Framework by the Façade Metrics Working Group of the Façade Tectonics Institute are documented
here. A preliminary review of existing façade system metrics and assessment strategies reveals they
are fragmented, too narrowly focused, and lack the comprehensive integration to provide an accurate
evaluation. With a strong focus on energy performance in new buildings, deep and vital considerations
like retrofit and renovation strategies, passive survivability, durability and service life, and resilience are
often neglected entirely. We outline some new directions that begin to address these gaps and suggest
a data-rich, visual framework and knowledge-sharing platform to advance progress with enhanced
metrics and façade systems evaluation and comparison.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Keith Boswell, Stéphane Hoffman, Stephen Selkowitz, Mic Patterson
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