Super Homes-Maximizing the Envelope for Savings, Health and HappinessAug 23, 2023
Few homeowners understand the benefits of new technologies that can help in making their homes more energy efficient, quieter and healthier. It is up to us to help them sort through the possibilities for windows, air quality, insulation, and air barrier membranes. Wondering how to develop a better relationship with your customers? The building envelope is a great place to start!
European windows - added value for home owners
Although Windows are the key to a successful envelope design, their many characteristics are often not well understood, and it can be difficult to keep up with new window systems. Noise reduction, specialized operability, passive level performance, and unique ventilation options can all add significant value to owners. When implemented in tandem with a strong building envelope, you can help owners save money and feel comfortable in their home year round—making your clients happier than ever.
With all the benefits large windows bring, such as natural light and interconnection between indoor and outdoor spaces, it’s no surprise they are usually favored over small, restrictive windows. Unfortunately, many traditional windows have been structurally deficient; causing sagging, loss of operability, and displeasing size constraints. However, there is a cost-effective solution available today: European style frames with integral steel support and triple pane glazing. These windows allow for significantly larger openings and siidelines with little to no distortion.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
Now, while larger windows are undoubtedly almost always preferred, when we get into energy performance, more doesn’t necessarily mean better! Solar heat gain (the metric to measure this is called the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, or SHGC), which is limited by a thin film laminated on the inside of the glazing unit, is a perfect example of this. Too little light will make the home feel cave-like and unlivable. Too much light will create higher cooling demands along with UV degradation of furniture and finishes. A popular technique frequently underutilized in single family homes is having varying SHGC’s per elevation. With its roots in Passive House design, this technique utilizes natural solar gain in the winter (a high SHGC) to help heat the home, and has lower SHGCS on elevations that are hit by the summer sun.
Another heavy hitting feature of European windows is their thermal resistance. A high-performance window can offer triple pane glass with U-Values down to 0.14 (R-7)! Triple pane offers a higher percentage of exterior glazing and savings of up to 20% in heating and cooling costs. It also allows for the possibility of a reduced thickness for insulation in walls, floors, and ceilings. That big window your client wanted is becoming a reality!
European windows - tilt + turn functionality
With proper ventilation being key in all homes, European style windows have a solution the doesn’t compromise safety: Tilt + turn functionality. While still engaged in a ‘locked’ position, the windows tilt inward, allowing for fresh air. This encourages clients to open windows regularly and will help reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions and chemicals that are common in new homes.
Remember when we mentioned integration with the building envelope? Breather membranes are used to flash window openings and seal the walls of the home from both air and moisture. When installed properly they help to keep moisture out, assist water vapor to escape, and limit air movement which is key to getting the most out of your windows. Installing the membranes properly and in the right sequence is crucial in achieving an air and watertight wall assembly.