It’s no secret that architects and designers prefer an all-glass entrance system to a bulky, full-framed counterpart. The reasons are clear: more glass and less visible hardware means unobstructed views, better daylighting, and a high-end, minimalist aesthetic. Unfortunately, increasingly stringent energy and air infiltration codes—such as California Title 24—pose a challenge when specifying exterior entrance systems with all-glass visuals. This includes monolithic heavy-glass doors. It becomes a give and take scenario that can ultimately result in selecting standard, aluminum-framed thermal doors that don’t have much to offer in terms of attractive aesthetics.
How can architects overcome this challenge and strike an ideal balance between thermal performance and aesthetics? With energy codes on the trajectory that they’re currently on, it isn’t difficult to see that the future of all-glass entrances may very well be thermally broken systems with insulating glass (IG) units. IG units can significantly reduce heat transfer year-round to lower energy usage and costs. This is welcomed news in an era where energy consumption is at its peak.
It’s common for IG units to be installed on aluminum thermal doors that incorporate wide vertical stiles. Handle hardware is then mounted onto these wide door stiles. Although this traditional approach provides high performance and function, it lacks the premium visuals of the sought after all-glass entrance system.
Fortunately, some manufacturers have been paying attention and the industry is beginning to see much needed innovations in glass entrance design.
One such manufacturer is CRL-U.S. Aluminum (C.R. Laurence). The company recently released its Entice® Entrance System, which allows handle hardware—including panic devices—to be mounted directly onto IG units using proprietary through-glass fittings. This produces a distinctive floating-on-air look, while being able to support the loads imposed by emergency egress hardware during the emergency exit test required by UL. Because it’s a dry-glazed system, the IG perimeter seal is not compromised over time.
Entice® features ultra-narrow 1-1/8” vertical styles, as well as thermally broken framing and cladding that delivers U-factors as low as 0.33. In essence, the system provides all-glass aesthetics and the full-frame thermal performance needed to meet stringent energy standards, including those set forth in ASHRAE 90.1-2016.
Because it’s now possible to mount handle hardware onto IG units, tubular panic devices can serve as the perfect complement to all-glass thermal doors. Their slim and elegant design enhances the minimalist look and simultaneously improves safety and security.
CRL-U.S. Aluminum has introduced advancements in the access control device category as well. Their new Entice Panic Device features a slim, independent horizontal crash bar that’s engineered to easily and securely attach to the vertical panic component. This lets architects specify a panic device that provides rail-to-rail ladder pull aesthetics on the interior and exterior of the door. The Entice Panic Device can be installed on both monolithic tempered glass doors and IG units for added versatility.
Any time architects are specifying fenestration systems, they must place close attention to the local energy codes that dictate thermal performance requirements, especially since they vary from region to region. Partnering with the glazing systems manufacturer and contacting the Authority Having Jurisdiction in the early stages of the design process is highly recommended to avoid complications down the road.
"We’re going to see many states rollout rigorous energy codes. Ensure that the entrance systems specified meet these codes by working with the manufacturer at the start of the project," said Ron Wooten, FenestrationMaster® and Director of Product Testing & Certification at CRL-U.S. Aluminum.
Energy codes are evolving and calling for higher thermal performance from fenestration systems. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the role insulating glass will play in all-glass entrance system design and specification. With some research and consideration, you’ll be able to specify a glass entrance system that gives you the look you want and the performance you need.