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Celebrating glass as a building material in 2022

2022 will be the International Year of Glass, highlighting its significance in sectors like the aerospace and automotive industries, health care and architecture.

The International Year of Glass

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Since 1959, the United Nations General Assembly has designated specific years to acknowledge fields of international endeavour and their importance in society. It has been decided that 2022 will be the International Year of Glass, highlighting its significance in sectors like the aerospace and automotive industries, health care and architecture.

As humans, we have been using glass for centuries. From the glass fibre cables that power the internet to the containers used in delivering life-saving medicines, it holds a vital role in our everyday lives, making them easier, safer, and better. And at Gray & Dick, it’s unsurprising that we’re incredibly passionate about glass and its role in construction.

Glasgow-city-theatre-royal      glasgow-city-theatre-royal      glasgow-city-theatre-royal

A stronger material than ever before
Once considered a fragile and brittle material, technology has helped glass come a long way over the years, making it incredibly flexible when it comes to construction. If we take toughened and laminated glass as an example, with the advent of science and technology, these products are robust, durable, and offer an unwavering level of strength.

Glass is a material that has a remarkable amount of workability, which is especially useful in architecture. It offers many diversified properties, such as being toughened, resistant to thermal breakage, and can be designed to fit a whole range of different structures. It also retains its integrity and appearance for far longer than traditional building materials that may be susceptible to adverse weather or rust.

Furthermore, it can be produced using the most sustainable manufacturing practices. In fact, the production process uses fewer pollutants than some alternative building materials, helping to push forward net-zero design goals. Of course, this is especially topical at the moment following COP26. It contributes to the circular economy, as it’s a fully recyclable product. The whole process of recycling glass uses less energy than alternative materials like plastic, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.

Glass panels on the side of St Enochs subway station      St. Enoch Subway Station, Glasgow, Scotland     St. Enoch Subway Station, Glasgow, Scotland

The smart use of glass in sustainable building
While the manufacturing process of glass is certainly much better for the environment than many other industries, it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when building an energy-efficient home or public building. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Glass allows natural light to enter rooms easily, reducing the need for artificial sources. Technological advancements also mean that it’s excellent at regulating heating and cooling, helping to meet vital energy requirements in construction while also reducing long-term costs.

Edinburgh Ticket Office     Edinburgh architecture     

And finally, it has a strong aesthetic appeal that will remain for years to come. While designing with glass requires a specialist set of architectural skills, it can transform a variety of buildings, modernising them, making strong design statements, and creating sleek, sophisticated works of art. Just take the Lindores Abbey Distillery as an example. From glass box extensions, glass facades, canopies, and walkways, the design options are almost limitless when choosing to incorporate glass. 

At Gray & Dick, we’re looking forward to seeing even more innovative work taking place in 2022 using this remarkable and incredibly unique material.

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