Upping the Green Factor: Combining Energy Efficiency with Sustainability

Upping the Green Factor: Combining Energy Efficiency with Sustainability
  • Opening Intro -

    Recent global events, said to be spurred by our continued apathy towards doing what’s best for the environment, seem to have – finally – hit home.

    The importance of going green is now stressed in every American home, which is why homeowners are now trying to make better, smarter, and greener choices.

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This is true even of once seemingly inconsequential choices, such as selecting window materials for our homes – people are now aware that choosing the right materials can yield cost savings. Oftentimes, however, homeowners typically still focus solely on the aspect of energy efficiency, which – while it does do the planet a good turn – misses out entirely on the other half of the green equation: sustainability.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose one over the other. These materials score points on both energy efficiency and sustainability.

Composites

  • Engineered wood:
    window frames are made from derivative wood products that feature fewer imperfections compared to traditional lumber, which results in less waste. If there are scraps from the production process, they can be recycled for a different use. Those that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are especially sustainable, since they come from forests that are managed well.

    In terms of energy performance, engineered wood is a great insulating material. This means less heat transfer, which is especially beneficial for those who live in cold regions. Advanced framing technology also enhances the material’s capacity for air sealing, which means less leakage.

  • Fiberglass:
    is another popular window frame material. Composed of naturally-occurring materials such as sand (which is primarily used in the glass), it is a worthy consideration for any eco-conscious homeowner. It also has low embodied energy, i.e., the total energy necessary for producing a product.

    As an energy-efficient component, fiberglass offers low thermal expansion coefficients. Thermal expansion is the rate by which a material contracts or expands – according to the changes in temperature. Those in mixed climates will benefit from fiberglass frames, as well as anyone who wants to more effectively manage heat transfer in their homes.

  • Fibrex:

    a patented product by Renewal of Andersen, is also a good choice. This material is made from reclaimed wood fiber, which can be recycled back into the production process when they reach the end of their life cycle. It also meets the requirements of the certification standard Green Seal.

fibrex

When it comes to the cost savings one can generate off of good energy performance, Fibrex also scores well. Windows clad in this material expand and contract very little, minimize unwanted heat transfer, and possess stronger structural stability.

Wood

Wood window frames – prized for their classic aesthetic appeal – are big performers in terms of sustainability, too. Wood products are manufactured from hardwoods and softwoods. The production process also demands little from the environment, since wood does not require a lot of synthetic applications to arrive at the final product.

Wood, however, does not perform as well as composites when it comes to the elements. Wood frames can easily warp, rot, or corrode when they are exposed to temperature extremes. But they are good insulators.

Final Section

Material selection is only half the package; proper installation also plays a critical role in the resulting success of your windows. Hire a licensed window installer or contractor who has a thorough understanding of your region’s climate zones, as well as specific energy and building regulations.

Author Bio
Paul Thibeault has 40 years of experience in the remodeling industry. He now works for My Flawless Window, where he uses his knowledge to guide homeowners through their home improvement decisions. When he’s not working, he plays and coaches hockey, and goes fishing and boating.

Image credit: Renewal by Andersen

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