With increasing concern over plant conservation, there has been a renewed interest in large-scale, enclosed botanical garden structures. Historically, these have been glazed structures, but more recently, synthetic polymers have been used as a replacement for soda lime glass.
To create the required habitat for photosynthesis within these structures, there are several critical parameters to be optimized such as Photosynthetically Active Radiation, Visible Light Transmission, Solar Heat Gain, and UV-A & UV-B indices. The cladding material in these buildings should perform favorably within those parameters, while also maintaining the sometimes-competing demands of human comfort during occupancy. The use of glass in these structures is evaluated and compared with other materials, such as ETFE, in promotion of plant growth, along with structural behavior and aesthetics.
Geometry also plays a critical role in both minimizing the use of MEP equipment for the internal climate and minimizing the embodied carbon and material usage in the structure. The impact of material choices on geometry are enclosed within the text.