The Path to Drawdown: High-Performance Glass
Buildings and construction account for 38% of global CO2 emissions and 35% of energy use. Much of this energy-use is the result of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), lighting, information and communications systems, security and access systems, fire alarms, elevators, appliances, and indirectly through plumbing.
In most buildings, some of the energy used in heating and cooling the interior goes to waste through windows. Windows, even when closed, are much less efficient than insulated walls at keeping room temperature in and outside temperature out - by a factor of ten or more.
High-performance glass solves this by replacing conventional plain glass. High-performance glass uses any of several technologies that can reduce heat flow through glass, including multiple layers, low-emissivity glass, tinted glass, and vacuum glazing.
High-performance glass is already widely adopted in wealthy countries. In the rest of the world, a faster and wider installation of high-performance glass can help reduce a substantial amount of GHG emissions by 2050:
- In 2018, 5 billion square meters of high-performance glass were installed in residential buildings, and 130 million sq. meters in commercial buildings
- By 2050, 13.7 billion sq meters should be installed in residential buildings and 7.5 billion sq meters in commercial buildings
If this scale can be achieved by 2050, high-performance glass can avoid 12.6 gigatons of emissions and save $3.9 trillion in energy costs over building lifetimes for an installation cost of $10.8 trillion.
Tecnoglass (stock ticker: TGLS) is a leading manufacturer of architectural glass and associated aluminum products for the global commercial and residential construction industries. Their brands (Tecnoglass, ESWindows and Alutions) are fully integrated in a single facility, allowing them to offer single-source responsibility on each product. Headquartered in Barranquilla, Colombia, they serve customers in North, Central and South America.
TGLS's Role in Drawdown
Tecnoglass manufactures a wide range (p. 11) of glass products for the construction market, many of which ensure energy savings from heating and cooling. For example, their Low-e Glass is a low emissivity glass manufactured by depositing metal parties on the surface of the glass inside a vacuum chamber. It offers excellent thermal insulation designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Their Thermo-Acoustic Glass is manufactured with two or more glass sheets separated by an aluminum or micro-perforated steel profile, this product has a double-seal system that ensures the unit’s tightness, buffering noise and improving thermal control.
While Tecnoglass sells their products to customers throughout North, Central and South America, the US is their largest market, accounting for 91% of total revenues (p. 4). Their revenue has been growing steadily, increasing by 4.21% year-on-year since 2016.
TGLS: What We Like
Tecnoglass is taking proactive steps (p. 57-61) to reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacturing operations:
- Since 2017, they’ve installed 15,237 solar panels on the roofs of their manufacturing facility in Colombia, which generate 19,555 MWh, equivalent to avoiding emissions from over 3,000 passenger cars for one year
- Tecnoglass also reduced electric energy consumption by 8,150 MWh per year of natural gas, helping avoid 4,350 tons of CO2 per year. That’s the same as avoiding emissions from 475 homes’ energy use for one year
- They recovered waste heat from two engines that generate energy with 3,750 KW natural gas
- They collected 4,6 tons of used oil and used it as industrial fuel
- They send 3,108 kg of used batteries to a recycling program in 2020, increasing the percentage of used batteries recycled by 7.1% compared to 2019