New Green Building Products — September 2011
High-performance windows, doors, and tapes for your next superinsulated home
About every six months, I report on new products that catch my eye. This round-up features products from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean: high-performance windows from Maine, Ontario, and Lithuania; high-performance doors from Poland; and high-performance tapes from Switzerland.
Linwood Windows is a small window manufacturer in Tenants Harbor, Maine. Owned by Richard Cohen, the company makes European-style tilt/turn windows out of Douglas fir. All windows are custom made; the usual lead time is 12 to 14 weeks.
The fir frames are milled in Maine using European shaper blades. According to Cohen, windows using frames milled with similar shaper blades have met the strict PassivhausA 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. Institut standard for certified Passivhaus windows.
Linwood Windows can be ordered with double, triple, or quadruple glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill.. A wide variety of glazing options are possible, including triple glazing with a center-of-glass 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. of 0.13.
Linwood’s triple-glazed tilt/turn windows cost between $120 and $160 per square foot.
Intus Windows are manufactured in Lithuania and distributed by Intus Consulting in Washington, D.C. Intus sells both vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate).-framed and wood-framed windows. All Intus windows are tilt/turn style windows with triple weatherstripping. The company’s triple-glazed vinyl windows are some of the least expensive high-performance windows available in the U.S.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
18 Penn Plaza, Suite 23A
Bangor, ME 04401
Distributor of Drewexim doors from Poland
30 Constellation Court
Toronto, Ontario M9W 1K1
Manufacturer of Eternity double-hung windows
1042 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20007
Distributor of Intus windows from Lithuania
P.O. Box 511
Tenants Harbor, ME 04860
Manufacturer of Passivhaus windows
Small Planet Workshop
4646 Oyster Bay Road NW
Olympia, WA 98502
Distributor of Siga tapes from Switzerland
Most of the windows that Intus sells in the U.S. have triple glazing with two low-e coatings and warm-edge spacers. (However, if the customer prefers, double glazing can also be ordered.) The windows are glazed at the Intus factory in Lithuania. Intus assembles its own insulated glazing units (IGUs), using Saint Gobain glass for Intus wood windows and Guardian glass for Intus vinyl windows. High-solar-gain triple glazing is an available option.
Intus vinyl windows use vinyl lineals (profiles) manufactured by Deceuninck Group (Belgium). None of Intus’s vinyl windows are Passivhaus-certified.
Intus sells two lines of vinyl windows; the less-expensive brand, Elite, costs about $35 to $38 a square foot for operable triple-glazed windows.
The higher-performing brand, Eforte, has vinyl frames with a lower U-factor than the Elite frames. The Eforte window accommodates glazing that ranges from 1 inch to 2.2 inches thick. Operable Eforte windows with triple glazing cost about $40 to $45 per square foot.
Intus wood-framed windows are called Premmier windows. Premmier windows all have exterior wood claddingMaterials used on the roof and walls to enclose a house, providing protection against weather. . The less expensive Premmier windows, Premmier 78 windows, cost about $75 to $80 per square foot for operable windows with triple glazing and aluminum cladding.
The high-quality Premmier windows, Premmier Passiv, are certified by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. These Passivhaus-certified windows cost about $95 to $100 a square foot for triple-glazed operable windows. Passivhaus-certified windows include a layer of insulation between the wood frames and the exterior aluminum cladding.
According to Intus representative Aurimas Sabulis, the lead time for an Intus vinyl window is 10 weeks. Wood windows take a little longer — about 10 to 12 weeks. Intus windows do not have NFRC ratings at this time.
Intus also sells a line of aluminum windows with thermally broken frames.
Inline Windows makes triple-glazed double-hungs
Lots of manufacturers sell fiberglass-framed windows with triple glazing. Builders who need an operable window usually choose from just three style options: casement, awning, or tilt/turn. Although double-hung windows with triple glazing are available from a few manufacturers, most such windows have low-performance glazing and leak a lot of air.
Inline Fiberglass has just released a new double-hung fiberglass window, the Eternity. Unlike most double-hung windows, the Eternity can be ordered with triple glazing; not only that, but it actually has good performance specifications.
Making a triple-glazed double-hung window usually results in compromises, and Inline’s new window, dubbed the Eternity, is no exception. The biggest compromise: the window’s glazing pocket only allows glazing with a maximum thickness of 1 1/8 inch. That's a little thin.
If you are using argonInert (chemically stable) gas, which, because of its low thermal conductivity, is often used as gas fill between the panes of energy-efficient windows. gas, the best triple glazing is 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 inch thick; such glazing won’t fit in the Eternity. If you want to include high-performance glazing in an Eternity window, you’ll need to order it with kryptonA colorless, odorless inert gas, often used with argon in fluorescent lighting and sometimes used as gas fill in high-performance glazing., a more expensive gas than argon. (Thin krypton-filled IGUs perform better than thin argon-filled IGUs.)
Inline offers several glazing options. An Eternity window with triple glazing with two low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. coatings and krypton gas has NFRC ratings of U-0.16 and a solar heat-gain coefficient (SHGCSolar heat gain coefficient. The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1.) of 0.18. If that dismally low SHGC depresses you — and it should — you can order Inline’s Synergy glass package. This option consists of triple glazing with 2 low-e coatings and krypton gas; the NFRC whole-window rating is U-0.17 and a SHGC of 0.46 — very respectable specs indeed.
When tested for air leakage according to ASTMAmerican Society for Testing and Materials. Not-for-profit international standards organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. Originally the American Society for Testing and Materials. E283-04 (Standard Test Method for Determining Rate of Air Leakage Through Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, and Doors Under Specified Pressure Differences Across the Specimen), an Eternity window with an area of 17.2 square feet had infiltration and exfiltrationAirflow outward through a wall or building envelope; the opposite of infiltration. results of 0.07 cfm. This is an excellent result for a double-hung window.
By now, most builders of energy-efficient homes have settled on their preferred window supplier. Buyers can select a U.S.-made triple-glazed wood window, a Canadian-made fiberglass-framed window, or a European-made Passivhaus window. When it comes to entry doors, however, there have been few choices available.
American entry doors are thin flat slabs that close against a single stop, and many entry door brands include just one layer of weatherstripping. European doors are built differently. For one thing, they are thicker, which means they feel more solid and often have a higher R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. . They also have rabbeted edges that step down: the door’s perimeter has rabbets that mate with a rabbeted jamb equipped with two or three layers of weatherstripping.
Almost everyone agrees that German doors are built to high quality standards than typical U.S. doors. The main drawback to German doors is that they are very expensive. However, U.S. builders who are frustrated by the low performance of U.S. doors and the high price of German doors now have a third option: Polish doors.
Drewexim doors are manufactured in Koszalin, Poland. One U.S. importer and distributor of Drewexim doors is Fenestrations Plus of Bangor, Maine. According to owner Nate Campbell, the territory served by Fenestrations Plus includes most of New England.
Drewexim doors are available in pine, meranti, oak, and mahogany. If the door will be painted, finger-jointed pine is available at a lower price than stain-grade pine. Aluminum-clad doors are also available. Door panels are manufactured with a core of foam insulation sandwiched between two layers of veneer.
Drewexim doors can be ordered with either double or triple glazing. The standard door thickness is 68 mm (about 2 5/8 inch), significantly thicker than standard U.S. doors (1 3/4 inch). Drewexim also offers extra-thick 88 mm (3 7/16 inch) doors.
A pine Drewexim entry door with a triple-glazed light costs between $1,800 and $2,300; more exotic wood species cost more. The necessary lead time is at least 12 weeks; delivery may be delayed by the need to fill a container before a shipment can be scheduled.
One U.S. purchaser of a Drewexim door is architect Jesse Thompson of Portland, Maine. Thompson described some of the features of his entry door, pictured below: “This is a 68 mm standard solid stained pine door (not the thermally broken 88 mm style). The inset panel is a laminated insulated wood panel, and the light is triple-glazed. Hoppe hardware is standard and included.
“The hinges are adjustable: an Allen key inserts into the drilled holes, allowing the door panel to be raised, tilted, and lowered to adjust inside the frame easily through the years.
“The door has a European ‘threshold.’ It's not a full width and depth sill; it's more like an extrusion rabbeted into the bottom of the door panel that holds the jambs together. It's designed to allow the door unit to be placed on top of a finish floor that runs continuously under the door — if you're in a 300 year old stone building, for example — without having to cut a slot lower than the door unit like U.S. doors. We installed it by setting the door unit on a strip of Advantech the same height as the finish floor to come, so we could later slide the finish floor under from one side, and a trim sill under from the other side. U.S. doors are designed to sit on the subfloor; these aren’t. That was confusing at first.”
Minor installation confusions aside, Thompson is pleased with the value offered by Drewexim: high quality at a reasonable price.
I first mentioned Siga tapes over a year ago, in my blog titled One Air Barrier or Two? Since that article was written, an increasing number of U.S. builders have recognized the advantages of high-quality Siga tapes.
Siga is a Swiss company that manufactures a complete line of air-sealing tapes for builders. The tapes are imported and distributed by Albert Rooks of Small Planet Workshop in Olympia, Washington.
All Siga tapes have a tenacious adhesive. However, these high quality tapes aren’t cheap: expect to pay from $30 to $59 a roll for narrow tape, and even more for wide tape.
For taping the seams of an interior air barrier, Rooks recommends Rissan 60 tape. (The number refers to the tape’s width in millimeters; 60 mm = 2.36 inches.) One roll containing 82 feet of tape costs about $33; the price drops to about $30 a roll when you buy 10 rolls.
For taping the seams of exterior sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. , Rooks recommends Wigluv 60 tape. Wigluv tape works well on unprimed OSB or plywood; concrete, however, needs to be primed. (Rooks suggests that the seam between a concrete foundation and the mudsill or the bottom of the wall sheathing can be bridged with Wigluv tape.) One roll containing 131 feet of tape costs about $59; the price drops to about $53 a roll when you buy 10 rolls.
Both Rissan and Wigluv tape can also be ordered in wider versions; of course, the wider the tape, the higher the price. If you need primer for a concrete foundation that will receive Wigluv tape, Rooks sells that as well. Siga Dockskin primer costs about $35 a can.
Last week’s blog: “Spray Foam Jobs With Lingering Odor Problems.”
- Lindwood Windows
- Intus Windows
- Martin Holladay
- Inline Fiberglass
- Jesse Thompson
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