Homes with full walls of glass are a relatively new concept. One hundred years ago, most glass was still handmade, and windows usually consisted of small panes separated by mullions. With the advent of modern glassmaking techniques and larger panes of glass, great expanses of glazing in homes have become commonplace and expected. With this also comes the challenge of managing heat gain and loss and the problems of glare and privacy. Double glazing— two pieces of glass separated by a vacuum—a response to the first energy crises of the early 1970s, signaled a new interest in developing ways to use glass while conserving resources and preserving privacy. As with many new innovations, double glazing was a relatively cumbersome process and was considered by some to be an inelegant solution to the problem of conservation.
The exploration of the world of reactive glass has brought a new and sleek look to windowpanes. Used at first in commercial settings for signage and displays, reactive glass quickly became a favorite of architects and professional interior designers, enhancing both exteriors and interiors across the country. The manufacturing process is generally the same for most types of glass, with small changes affecting the way the glass reacts to light or is able to manipulate light for the interior. Glare reduction and energy conservation are the most obvious applications for this type of glass, which can be expensive compared to standard glass; however, the energy savings will eventually compensate for the larger up-front cost. Although maintenance is usually the same as standard glass, installation of reactive glass requires the services of a trained professional for optimum performance.