There was a time when an expansive glass exposure presented residential architects and home builders with a costly conundrum.

Accept diminished home energy performance – and higher utility bills for the homeowner – or beef up the exterior wall assembly, the HVAC system, or possibly both to compensate for glass thermal loss.

But why compromise? When it comes to modern home design, bigger glass is better.

Today a new generation of oversized wood-framed multi-panel sliding doors, casement windows, and awning windows defy that compromise between scale and energy efficiency.

Residential architects and home builders can now specify wood-clad multi-panel sliding doors up to 12-feet high by 60-feet long. Yes, homeowners now have fewer and fewer limitations on their “million-dollar view.” And casement windows? Imagine dimensions of up to 8 feet by nearly 4 feet.

New, thermally more efficient window and door systems blur the line between indoor and outdoor environments. No aluminum framing. No steel framing. These are architectural-quality “big glass” systems that respect high style while quietly taking the energy performance question off the table.

“There have never been so many big glass options available to builders and architects across all climate zones,” reports Kris Hanson, Marvin Windows and Doors group product planning manager. “Next-generation big glass windows and door systems can now achieve a 0.28 U-factor with standard, dual pane insulating glass.” U-factor is an insulating metric; any U-factor under 0.30 is considered outstanding for doors.

The challenge for home builders and residential architects is to understand the new options and adjust their offerings accordingly. Twelve-foot high multi-slide doors. Eight-foot high casement windows. Ten-foot high by seven-foot long awning windows. Easy operation. Larger windows and doors offer considerably more value to homeowners provided new home design takes full advantage of big glass breakthroughs.

The news is even better for coastal residential development.

Wind, salt, and moisture represent especially difficult hazards. This is often compounded by a coastal home buyer’s understandable desire for more seaside glass exposure. This presents home designers and builders with the tricky challenge of balancing homeowner expectations with nature’s harsh reply.

But now there are solutions that meet even this challenge head-on. A few window and door manufacturers have introduced PG-50- and IZ3-rated multi-panel sliding door systems. The same extreme-weather rating designation is expected soon for big glass casement windows as well.

No architect or builder wants to limit the dreams of a coastal home buyer. Thanks to a hardy new breed of multi-panel sliding doors, casement windows, and awning windows, those million-dollar views have never looked better.