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New high-rise condos

Peter L | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I read about a large scale high-rise condos being built in downtown Phoenix. What I was surprised at was there is nothing mentioned about energy efficiency. We are talking Arizona and no solar panels are being used to offset the electricity. There is no LEED certification being sought. Nothing about how energy efficient the building will or will not be.

It’s a beautiful building but with all standard double pane glazing, it’s just a heat sink and an energy loss. All of that large glazing with maybe an R-2 rating sitting in the Arizona sun. The building has plenty of flat roof top space for solar PV panels.

I thought in 2015 there would be more incentive to build it using better energy efficient materials, utilizing PV solar (especially in Arizona), utilizing better windows (triple pane), using ductless mini splits for the condos and not standard HVAC units, seeking LEED certification, water conservation toilets, showers, etc.

What do you people think?

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  1. Nate G | | #1

    Oh look, another "architectural masterpiece" that favors flash over practicality. At least there's an opportunity to add solar PV in the future.

  2. Peter L | | #2


    Possibly, as long as there is no mechanical equipment on the roof that would get in the way of the PV panels.

    It is a beautiful building but the energy efficiency of the construction is another story. It will be a steel and concrete building but concrete's R-Value is pretty low. Even an 8" thick concrete wall would be around R-1 to maybe R-2 depending on the mix. I assume some type of insulation is being added to the interior walls, maybe fiberglass batts or rigid foam? It doesn't state anything.

  3. Eric Habegger | | #3

    I'll try to be nice here by not saying anything about Arizona, and Phoenix in particular, with regard to this building complex.

  4. Peter L | | #4


    We have thick skin here and nobody's feelings will get hurt. You need to be heard and the truth needs to be told. Change will not happen unless people speak up.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    I'm not sure what it is about this project that caught your eye. If your point is that most architects and builders in the U.S. aren't particularly interested in reducing energy use to levels that are lower than code-minimum buildings -- you're right, of course. But that's hardly news.

    Second, I'm not sure what you mean when you criticize a building in Phoenix for having "standard double-pane glazing." I suppose it all depends on what's "standard" in Phoenix. Clearly, there really isn't any reason to install triple glazing in Phoenix -- so pointing out that the building has double glazing doesn't tell us much.

    What really matters is the solar heat gain coefficient of the specified glazing -- so mocking the fact that the windows are double-glazed is beside the point.

    Finally, your assumption that there is a direct correlation between LEED certification and energy performance strikes me as somewhat naive.

  6. Peter L | | #6


    I will let these articles speak for themselves regarding window glazing on high-rise structures:

    As far as being "naive" with LEED. I understand the dynamics of LEED certifications but attaining a LEED certification is a better goal than attaining code minimum. I hope you would agree to at least that point?

    I will let this article speak for itself:

    Sorry that my post wasn't news worthy.

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    Peter L,
    The article about the Empire State Building shows that the owner of a building in New York decided that triple glazing made sense. (Certainly, a cold-climate building will see energy savings, and the noise reduction is an additional benefit.)

    I've never seen an argument that triple glazing is a good investment in Phoenix. When an architect specs windows in Phoenix, the usual advice is to choose low-e double glazing with argon gas, and to make sure that the SHGC is very low.

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