Development of a Transparent Sustainable Wall System with Load Bearing Backup Framing for Residential Construction

Open Access
Standley, Joseph A.
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 20, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Ali M Memari, Thesis Advisor
  • sustainable
  • racking
  • lateral load
  • photovoltaic
Typical residential construction in the United States relies on light-frame wood shear walls to provide lateral and gravity load resistance and to form the exterior building enclosure. Currently, there are relatively few alternative construction materials or structural systems available to homebuilders. In this thesis, a new type of panelized wall system for residential construction was developed that is intended to replace typical wood-frame shear walls. The new wall system, in this thesis called the Residential Glazed Wall Panel System (RGWPS), is a prefabricated wall panel consisting of a structural steel back-up frame, transparent polycarbonate sheathing, and a curtain-wall glazing system that contains an integrated photovoltaic panel. The design motivation behind the RGWPS was to increase day lighting and provide an electricity-generating photovoltaic system by using a sustainable, panelized product. The purpose of the research conducted in this thesis was to compare the performance of the RGWPS to that of light-frame wood wall construction. This preliminary evaluation was intended to determine whether further design and development of the RGWPS is a warranted endeavor. The structural performance of the RGWPS transparent polycarbonate sheathing was evaluated under monotonic and cyclical in-plane lateral shear loads using ASTM E 2126-08, and the compressive load performance of the RGWPS backup frame was evaluated using ASTM E 72-05. Thermal and energy performances were evaluated using THERM, WINDOW and Energy-10 software. Finally, a materials and systems analysis was performed using a combination of life-cycle assessment, embodied energy calculation, and reuse/recycle evaluation.