The in-service performance of commercially available curtain walling systems has undergone steady progress over the recent decade chiefly through the technological developments of high performance glazing. However, the industry-standard combination of aluminium frames and the infill glazing panels leads to thermal losses and relatively high thermal transmittance (U-value). Fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) is a relatively novel construction material with several advantageous properties, such as high specific strength and stiffness, low thermal conductivity, high corrosion and weather resistance. Its use in facades, therefore, provides the opportunity to reduce the number of parts (compared with aluminium-based systems) due to the absence of thermal breaks, which may in turn bring about a step-change to curtain wall thermal performance and energy efficiency of buildings.
An integrated FRP façade module for energy-efficient buildings was proposed by ARUP in 2008. This study focuses on optimising one of the components in the façade module known as the spandrel panel. A finite element model, which is validated by an analytical model based on Levy’s method, is constructed to investigate the structural performance and an analytical model is constructed for thermal analysis. A suitable multi-criterion optimisation method is identified and deployed using the spandrel panel as an example. Furthermore, the significance of various façade components to the overall thermal performance is identified and compared.