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Foundation Approves Research Funding on Spandrel Assemblies in Glazing Systems

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August 24, 2023

The RCI-IIBEC Foundation has approved a grant for research into the thermal performance of spandrel assemblies in glazing systems in collaboration with the Charles Pankow Foundation. This is the second phase of the Pankow Foundation’s study of spandrel glazing.

According to the Charles Pankow Foundation grant request, the current state of practice for evaluating spandrel assembly thermal performance is lacking, and the analytical approaches are inconsistent. Right now, building codes and standards are inadequate, leading to variable design execution on projects. While energy codes have become more stringent, spandrel assembly technologies have largely remained the same. Glazed wall systems, including curtainwall and window wall, are facing criticism due to their perceived high levels of embodied carbon content. This spandrel project will study how targeted embodied carbon “investments” (e.g., amount of insulation, insulation type, framing material) can yield meaningful reductions in operational carbon emissions over the life of a building.

“This is a slam dunk for the foundation,” said Mike Blanchette, chair of the RCI-IIBEC Foundation. “The two foundations recognize there is a need for improved design guidelines and consistency in calculation methods to identify opportunities to improve materials, details, and systems, and to inform future code provisions.”

“The Charles Pankow Foundation is proud to lead this industry-critical research that ultimately will improve building energy performance and reduce carbon emissions,” said Rik Kunnath, Charles Pankow Foundation president.

Testing will occur at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and thermal modeling will be performed by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the engineering team of RDH, Morrison Hershfield, and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger.

Research is expected to be completed by September of 2024. Funding for this project was made possible by the donations to the RCI-IIBEC Foundation’s General Fund for Research and Education. For more information, visit the foundation’s website at or contact Foundations Development Officer Rick Gardner at 919-859-0742 or