Energy-efficient window tips for your next sustainable building project
Tip 1: High-stability frame materials can reduce costs and waste.
Traditional window frames can bend, causing windows to crack and the seals around them to break and letting air and water move freely through the window. Broken windows like these require replacement and often wind up in landfills. Many window frames are also made from materials that conduct heat, reducing the efficiency of the insulation they provide.
Fully recyclable materials offered the project managers and building engineers renovating this 1927-era, Boston home a low-cost but high-performance option that will steer clear of the waste in a landfill. High-stability, fiber-composite (uPVC + glass-fiber) frames provide the strength and stiffness of steel without the heat-conducting properties of metal.
Tip 2: Compression seals and welded corner joints reduce heat escape and encourage longevity.
Once window seals and joints begin to deteriorate, the insulation of the home is compromised and windows often need to be replaced. Drafts and leaks tax heating and cooling systems in a home — increasing energy usage and homeowner expenses — while broken windows create waste after they are replaced.
The 265 windows in Orchards at Orenco — currently the largest passive-house-certified, multi-family housing complex in the nation — will let little to none of the freezing Portland air inside. Highly elastic seal material placed at three levels surrounding the window withstands continuous stress over time, resulting in fewer leaks, drafts and window replacements.
Traditional windows also have mechanical corner joints that deteriorate over time, letting water and air from the outdoors seep in. Choose windows with welded corner joints and durable seal material to ensure effective insulation and boost window longevity.