green-building-newsheader image
0 Helpful?

Workshops Set to Spur High-Performance Windows

Three sessions scheduled for next month are aimed at encouraging manufacturers to up their game in window design

Posted on Aug 31 2015 by Scott Gibson

The North American Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Network (NAPHN) has announced three workshops in September aimed at helping manufacturers increase the development and production of climate-specific windows suitable for Passivhaus construction.

Workshops will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 22; in Toronto on September 28; and in Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 30.

"These workshops are designed to provide support and assistance to a broad spectrum of manufacturers looking for ways to improve their current window performance or to design new profiles to meet the climate specific Passive House Component Certification criteria," NAPHN said in a news release.

The announcement follows the award of a nearly $900,000 grant in July by the Canadian government to Dynamic Windows and Doors. The money is to help the company produce a window that could be used in Passivhaus construction at its Abbotsford, British Columbia, plant. Dynamic would be the first to market a made-in-Canada wood Passivhaus window, according to the Canadian government.

NAPHN said the grant represented "the first major North American government investment to develop high-performance components" needed for certification. Manufacturers will get information on how to design, make, and certify high-performance windows with various frame materials as the market for these products continues to expand.

A "robust" European market offers more than 200 window products certified by Germany's Passivhaus Institut (PHI), NAHPN says. But according to NAPHN co-presidents Bronwyn Barry and Ken Levenson, there is a single U.S. manufacturer of a window certified by PHI, Synergist Windows in California. The scarcity of North American producers forces builders to look overseas.

In an email, Barry wrote that there are "very few" locally made windows that are insulated adequately for the most densely populated areas of North America. She cited one study which found less than 1% of windows produced in North America could achieve even the "cool temperature" U-factorMeasure of the heat conducted through a given product or material—the number of British thermal units (Btus) of heat that move through a square foot of the material in one hour for every 1 degree Fahrenheit difference in temperature across the material (Btu/ft2°F hr). U-factor is the inverse of R-value. requirements of PHI. Further, a "hygiene and comfort" requirement designed to eliminate cold spots on window surfaces is poorly understood, she said.

(The Passive House Institute U.S., which is not connected to PHI, has its own window data certification program.)

Registration information for the September workshops is available at this NAPHN website.

Tags: , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Tonu Mauring via Flickr

Aug 31, 2015 3:39 PM ET

Window companies at NAPHC
by Reid Baldwin

I notice that there are at least 7 window companies among the exhibitors at the North American Passive House Conference in Chicago in a couple weeks. About 1/4 of the exhibitors are window companies. About half of those window companies are European.

Aug 31, 2015 10:00 PM ET

by w d

While the NAPHN is doing its work on better performing windows, the AERC (at LBNL) will be testing the effectiveness of window attachments. It would be good if the two groups could find ways to share their progress with each other, even though some may argue that a properly designed and installed window needs no attachment.

Sep 1, 2015 4:36 PM ET

Canada leads the way - again!
by Bronwyn Barry

Thanks for posting this article on our NAPHN Advanced Window workshops, Scott. It's remarkable that the Canadian Government has funded the development of a Passive House window profile by Dynamic Windows. I'm happy to share that Dynamic Windows is a registered participant and I'm excited to see what profile they develop for the local market.

On top of the Canadian Government funding to Dynamic, it's also notable that the City of Vancouver is currently accepting Passive House Certification (PHI) in lieu of NFRC thermal performance data. We expect this to become a policy trend in many other jurisdictions. As Andrew Peel has commented, "The Windows of Change are Blowing" and they're clearly pointed in the Passive House direction!

Sep 1, 2015 6:24 PM ET

Edited Sep 1, 2015 6:25 PM ET.

by Malcolm Taylor

It makes sense that Vancouver would accept that projects built to Passive House standards would necessarily surpass the building code's less stringent thermal performance standards, but that is completely different than arguing that PH certification is something approving authorities should be aiming for, or incorporating into their standards.

Sep 1, 2015 6:54 PM ET

by Bronwyn Barry

Who's arguing?

Sep 1, 2015 7:26 PM ET

by Malcolm Taylor

Isn't that implicit in the 10 Point Plan?

Register for a free account and join the conversation

Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!