An estimated 30 million commercial buildings were built post WWII, many of them high-rises containing workplaces and housing. Designed by such notable architects as I.M. Pei, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and Philip Johnson, and firms such as Harrison & Abramovitz, SOM, and HOK, many in the building sector are now trying to figure out what to do with these inefficient buildings without altering their characters.

Known for their concrete façades and floor-to-ceiling windows, these mid-century high-rises are leaky and lack sufficient insulation. While some best practices have been employed to reduce overall energy costs, the windows remain the single most wasteful element, and to change them would require massive renovations.

To determine whether it is worth upgrading a building, architect James Timberlake asks three key questions: how much is the facade, or curtain wall, to blame for inefficiency; does replacing the curtain wall really add up; and are there are methods for energy efficiency by employing, rather than replacing, the curtain wall?

To read more about these key questions, visit Fast Company.

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