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What’s New in Green Technology for Windows and Doors?

By Gates Dearen

Crystal Clear app energy star
Crystal Clear app energy star (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I often hear people talking about green technology and how we as consumers have to do more to protect the environment. HomeRite Windows and Doors is a big proponent of green technology and green building techniques since before it became fashionable to go green.  Our company has several certifications for environmental safety and green building practices.  The windows we install use many green technologies to save energy and improve sustainability. In this article, I will cover what’s new and exciting in the green windows and doors arena. I will also discuss what makes a window or door product qualify as green along with questions you should ask when looking for green products. Finally, I will cover questions that help you compare products and questions that will help you pick the right vendor.

As far as energy savings go, windows and doors are the "weak link" in the energy efficiency chain.  It is estimated that as much as 30% of heat loss is due to inefficient doors and windows. Choosing the right energy saving windows and doors has always forced customers to balance aesthetics, ease of maintenance, energy efficiency and budgetary considerations. The good news today is that there are many affordably priced energy efficient windows and doors in a variety of construction technologies.

New, Exciting and a Little Expensive. 

Bright Ideas - Day 263 of Project 365
Bright Ideas - Day 263 of Project 365 (Photo credit: purplemattfish)
The news in windows is all about three things right now:  New types of glass, new construction methods and Smart windows.  

In one of my recent articles, I talked about new glass construction methods. Read my article, "ASK ABOUT GLASS,” if you want the details. The bottom line is that today’s glass is much more energy efficient than it was just 20 years ago. New construction methods have also helped improved energy efficiency and brought about the creation of new hybrid windows. One of the most exciting additions to windows is what is called smart windows. These windows allow a person to go from clear to opaque or translucent with the flick of a switch or slide of a dial. These windows will be primarily used for commercial buildings and could therefore save businesses a lot of money. Currently this technology is in its infancy. However, like all technologies, as it reaches wide spread adoption over time, its price will come down.

What Makes a Window or Door Green?

I thought it would be important for you to have some guidelines as to what makes a product green. A Window or door can be very energy efficient but not considered a green product. This does not make it a bad product. For some applications, a high-energy efficiency window that does not meet all green standards may still be the best product for the job. Remember most consumers have to balance their needs for aesthetics, energy efficiency and budget. For many being green is icing on the cake. Having said that, here are six criteria that can be used as a guide to help you choose green:
  1. What kind of materials is used in the manufacture of the windows and doors and what is the source of these materials?
  2. Can the windows and doors be produced from recyclable material or renewable materials?
  3. What is the environmental impact of collecting these materials for the manufacturing process?
  4. How are the windows and doors actually manufactured?
  5. How much ongoing maintenance is required and does it have an environmental impact?
  6. What energy savings do the windows and doors provide when they are completed and installed properly?   See our website for Energy and tax Saving Features.

How Can I Compare Green Windows and Doors?

Ocotober 17th, 2009: Moosicorn Dried In
Ocotober 17th, 2009: Moosicorn Dried In (Photo credit: Moosicorn)
When it comes to comparing windows and doors, most consumers usually shake their heads and throw up their arms in frustrations due to the sheer number of features.  I always tell people to make a list of the features that each product contains. I also tell them to compare important benefits like the aesthetics, overall energy rating and product warranty, and let’s not forget the budget. In today’s economy, budget is always a factor. My list would look something like this:

  • Price Installed
  • Energy Rating
  • Material Used
  • Color Choices
  • Aesthetics
  • Warranty 
On top of that, I like to ask a specific list of questions to any windows and door vendor or manufacturer to make sure I understand the big picture and exactly what I am getting. Always ask these ten questions when purchasing windows or doors.

My Top 10 Questions for Vendors
  1. Are the materials recycled or renewable?
  2. Is the manufacturing process sustainable?
  3. What is the Energy Star rating of the window or door?
  4. Is there an energy rebate on or tax saving on this product?
  5. Are they a member of the US Green Building Council?
  6. Does the manufacturer have the Lead-Safe seal from the EPA?
  7. Does the installation follow environmentally friendly practices?
  8. How long have you been installing windows or doors?
  9. Can you get references from customers who have already had the windows installed?
  10. What is the warranty? (10 years, 20 years, Lifetime?)

Are Green Windows Better Than Non-Green Windows?

I often am asked the question, “Are green windows better than non-green windows?”  For me there is no simple answer.  Instead, my response usually centers on the customer’s needs.  If their primary need is to be "totally green," then the answer is yes.  However if their need is a combination of price, aesthetics, energy efficiency, warranty and green choices, they have to decide what is the most important criteria to them because ultimately it’s their home and they will be living with their choice for some time to come.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Door in Jacksonville Florida.  Owners Gates Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home.  Their approach is a little different. They're simply looking to match the home owner with the right windows for their home and   budget.  Home improvements are enough of a hassle ― they’re here to make life easier with first-rate, energy efficient products, affordable prices, installers that know best practices and who have respect for your home.
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