Working in a BREEAM-certified building can be a pleasure for Boost Pro Systems because they are designed and built with sustainability and occupant health in mind. However, a common problem for our clients is a marked drop in mobile phone signal level, which can usually be traced to the use of low-emissivity (low-E) glass in their construction. In this article, I will discuss the necessity of using low-E glass, how it affects the electromagnetic waves used to transmit mobile phone signals, and how a DAS (Distributed Antenna System) can mitigate its effects.
The Green Benefits of Low-E Glass
Low-E glass has a thin coating that minimizes the amount of energy passing through it and is categorized based on the manufacturing process and type of coating used. Hard-coat low-E glass uses a metallic coating, usually tin, that is sprayed onto the glass surface at high temperatures. It is favoured in colder climates due to its tendency to allow some of the sun’s heat to pass through and aid in heating the building interior. Soft-coat low-E glass generally uses a silver lining sandwiched between panes of glass in a vacuum chamber and is significantly more expensive. It is preferred in warmer climates where it reduces air conditioning costs by minimizing heat transmission into a structure. Both glasses achieve their goals while allowing visible light in, albeit at varying levels of effectiveness.
Low-E glass is one of the mainstays of modern building construction, where the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) system dictates many design decisions. The BREEAM system assigns a rating to a building based on the number of sustainable and environmentally friendly features included in its design. A higher rating can not only ensure lower operating costs but also yield significant tax credits from authorities.
Effect of Low-E Glass on Mobile Phone Signals
Unfortunately, BREEAM ratings do not take into account an issue with low-E glass that can be a nuisance for a building’s occupants in today’s technological world. The ability of low-E glass to reflect energy and improve insulation also impacts transmissions to and from mobile phone towers, preventing them from penetrating buildings through the glass. The result is high signal attenuation (a reduction in signal strength) and poor indoor coverage.
Installing a DAS (Distributed Antenna System) Solution
Boost Pro Systems’ DAS deployments alleviate the issue of poor coverage by using a network of indoor antennas spread throughout the building. An external donor antenna is used to supply the signal to the indoor antennas through media such as cat 6 cabling. Users can be served directly by antennas within the building rather than making do with poor reception from signals having to travel through low e glass windows. Users gain the energy efficiency of low-E glass and the benefits of a high BREEAM rating without suffering from intermittent coverage and disappearing bars on their phones. They can achieve their goal of owning and working in a sustainable, environmentally friendly building without negatively affecting their modern lifestyles.