Advantages and Disadvantages of a Commercial Glass Roof System

A roof is the most essential part of a building. In the past, roofs were only seen as a means of protection from the elements.

But with the development of modern building materials, roofs are now much more. They can be used to regulate the temperature of a building or provide consistent top lighting.

A good example of such modern roofs is commercial glass roof systems. These multipanelled glass installations are put up over commercial buildings to improve lighting and ventilation.


commercial glass roofing system in sydney


Glass roof systems are often used as a daylight strategy to minimize the use of electricity in commercial buildings during the day.

They provide consistent natural lighting that illuminates all corners of a building and are an excellent installation for commercial buildings such as malls and office complexes.

Glass roof systems are available in different designs, colors, and coatings. You may choose them based on impact resistance, light transmission, and thermal performance capabilities.

However, before installing a glass roof system over your building, it is important to learn the benefits and drawbacks of installing them.

This article explains what glass roof systems are and shows you the advantages and disadvantages of putting them up.


What are commercial glass roof systems?

Glass roof systems, also known as roof glazing, are made up of glass and framing.

The frame holds together the glazing over a commercial building in a predetermined shape.

It may take the shape of the building’s roof or form others, such as a pyramid shape.

These roofing systems provide excellent thermal performance, have high fire ratings, and are condensation resistant.

They give a room structural integrity and are strong and durable. They also provide excellent illumination (up to 70 percent) because the glazing used to make them has a high visible light transmission.

Therefore, roof glass systems are a popular installation over huge commercial buildings.


Different types of glass roof systems

The position of a glass roof system is determined by the height and slope of the roof.

They are often categorized according to their placement on a roof. For instance, single sloped glass roof systems are installed on one side of a sloping roof.

We also have double sloped glass roof systems (also known as ridge sloped roofs) that you can install over both sides of an A-frame roof.

Glass roofs also come in different sizes ranging from small to humongous, depending on the size of the roof over which they are installed.

Long-spanning glass roof systems cover the length of a building’s roof, and short spanning roof systems only cover a small section of the roof of a building.

You may also categorize glass roof systems based on the framing that holds them up.

Some look frameless because the frame supporting the structure is hidden from view. These types of systems are known as frameless glass roofs.

Others use transparent framing made of iron glass to support the glazing. These are known as structural glass roof systems.

Then we have glass roof systems you can open or close mechanically or manually, known as retractable glass roof systems.


Types of metal and glazing used on glass roofing systems

The glazing used on a commercial glass roof system is the most important part of the installations.  It is often made using energy-efficient material that can insulate buildings against noise, heat, and cold.

Glass glazing for roofing systems provides maximum light illumination and permeation. Since it is often installed over large installations, the glazing material used to make glass roof systems is usually reinforced and impact resistant.

Therefore, it can withstand strong winds and dead loads during extreme weather. In fact, some types of roof system glazing can withstand 250 times more pressure than regular glass.

The type of glass glazing used over glass roof systems also does not discolor. It remains clear and transparent for the length of its life cycle.

You can expect it to provide up to 70 percent light transmission due to its high visible light transmission too.

Due to its clarity, you do not need a lot of glass to illuminate a space. That often lowers the cost of installation and maintenance of glass roof systems.

Some examples of glazing materials used to make glass roof systems are cellular polycarbonate glazing (CPG), laminated safety glass, and fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP).

The metal framing used to put up glass roof systems is also important because  it holds the glazing together. That’s why it is made of durable materials such as extruded aluminum.

Aluminum is preferred because it is easy to fabricate and can be designed into different shapes such as barrel vault, polyangular, octagon, and curved shapes.

It is also used to make pyramid and extended pyramid glass roof systems. It is also insulated to prevent energy loss and heat transfer, which helps maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and increases energy efficiency.


Advantages of commercial glass roof systems

Glass roof systems provide the following benefits when installed over a commerical building.

  • Providing natural lighting

Glass roof systems are used in place of artificial lighting to illuminate commercial buildings. They are more affordable than electricity because they use sunlight which is a natural resource.

The benefits of natural light extend beyond illumination. It increases the productivity of workers by helping them to see better.

And students in schools with glass roofs exhibit higher scores than those in buildings with inadequate lighting.

The light from sun rays also improves our moods by increasing the production of feel-good hormones such as Serotonin, which leave us with a feeling of well-being.

Therefore, the illumination from the glass skylight creates a conducive environment for people to engage in commercial activities.

And they are often installed over retail stores such as malls, where they contribute to better sales and productivity by providing a conducive environment for people to shop and work.

In hospitals, glass roof systems are known to increase patient recovery times due to the therapeutic properties of sunlight.


  • Lowering electricity costs

You can reduce your electricity costs by replacing artificial lighting with natural light through the use of glass roof systems.

You can also use it as an affordable ventilation option in a residential or commercial building.

An example is with retractable roofing systems, that you can open or close based on surrounding temperatures. Such installations are often used to reduce the need for cooling systems during hot months.

The heat you get from natural sun rays streaming through glass roofs can also eliminate the need to heat up your building using electrical heating systems.

Therefore, in winter, you do not have to use as much electricity to keep your building warm as you would in a building with a regular roof.


  • Beautifying indoor spaces

Natural light beautifies a space better than artificial lighting. The visual comfort you get from natural light also makes everything look and feel better.

Therefore, glass roof systems are in high demand due to their ability to stream high quality natural light into a commercial building.

Such light brightens up all corners of a building as opposed to artificial light, which gives spaces a yellowish look and often does not reach all corners.

That’s the reason buildings that depend on electricity lighting have a gloomy and dull feeling sometimes. You need clear natural light to create a visually appealing space.

Glass glazing lets in high quality natural light, which accentuates the colors in a building and improves ambiance.

These roofing systems also give a building a stylish, modern look that increases its value. Thus, they are investments in your building and are popular for their benefits.


  • Improving thermal performance

A commercial building should have a comfortable amount of insulation and heat throughout the day.

Glass roofs provide excellent thermal performance, which reduces utility costs by lowering the need for air conditioners and heaters.

Since large buildings use a lot of electricity, installing a glass roof system is a great way to minimize these costs.

Using solar glass in glass roofing systems is a great way to combat thermal issues associated with these glass installations.


  • Extend living spaces

Glass roof systems are an excellent way to extend working and living spaces. They are a better option for commercial buildings than closed roofs.

You can use them to create a conservatory outside your home or a restaurant on a rooftop.

You may also use them over installations with a lot of foot traffic to create well-lit walkways on various floors and foyers.


Disadvantages of glass roof systems

While glass roofing systems provide amazing benefits to building owners. They are also some drawbacks to installing them. These are;

  • High maintenance costs

Glass roofs cover a large area of a building, and they require a lot of time and money to maintain because they are cleaned regularly and need repairs from time to time.

These maintenance measures are costly. They may discourage people from putting them up.

However, there are ways to combat this, such as using self-cleaning glass, which will cut down on cleaning costs.

Using experts to install your glass roof system will prevent repair costs originating from a bad installation.


  • Susceptibility to leaks

Glass roof systems are susceptible to leaks. They are held together using waterproofing that wears off from time to time due to exposure to the elements.

Leaks may also occur if a glass roof system is not installed correctly. Therefore, anyone with such a roofing has to budget for such problems and find  ways to prevent or fix them.


  • Cost of installation

It costs quite a bit of money to put up glass roof systems. Repairing them when they get damaged costs a lot too.

Therefore, putting up and keeping a glass roof system in good condition is not a cheap venture.

However, the benefits they provide, such as reducing electricity costs and making building a comfortable place to work in, may outway these expenses.


Are glass roofs better than regular roofs?

In light of these advantages and disadvantages, can we say glass roofs are better than regular roofs?

Yes! While regular roofs only provide a covering over a building, glass roof systems light up a space and ventilate it like in the case of retractable roofing systems.

They are a better option for commercial buildings than regular roofs.  Therefore, they are used as roof systems in daylighting strategies to illuminate buildings using solar exposure.

They are a great roofing option for commercial buildings such as airports, classrooms, hospitals, restaurants, libraries, sports facilities, and malls.



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