Builders and designers looking for high-performance windows now have two more options: a New York-based distributor specializing in European windows suitable for Passivhaus buildings and an online evaluation service that makes window recommendations for specific building designs.
The window company is Prossimo. Its co-founder is Ben Freed, who with no prior experience acted as his own general contractor and built a net-zero energy home for about $170,000 after being told it couldn’t be done.
The difficulty of obtaining high-performance windows convinced Freed and his friend Jared Madsen to form partnerships with window manufacturers in Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia and sell them in the U.S.
Freed said by telephone that Prossimo helps builders navigate the differences between European and U.S. made windows, including sizing, colors, unit sizes, glazing packages and hardware. Launched in May, Prossimo has so far imported windows and doors for five projects, Freed says, and is the first high-performance window company focused on the affordable market.
“Our main offerings are not Passivhaus-certified,” he said. “They are Passivhaus-suitable. The U-factors you get are able to get you to certification on your project. To be cost-effective, that’s the approach we’re taking. The actual certified windows are the next level up from what we offer right now. What we offer now, the R-7.5 range, is more than enough to get you a certified Passivhaus.”
Prossimo arranges for fabrication with its European partners and has the windows or doors shipped directly to the user. They’re sold under the Prossimo label. The lead time is between 10 and 12 weeks after the builder makes a deposit.
Freed pledged to sell operable tilt-and-turn windows with triple-pane glazing and an R-value of 7.5 for $25 per square foot. Fixed windows sell for $17 per square foot.
Builders can get quotes through the Prossimo website.
Free window consulting
The frustration of finding suitable windows for high-performance designs prompted New York architect Michael Ingui and several partners to launch a website called Fentrend.
“Finding the right window at the right place, comparing windows, has been so difficult,” Ingui said by telephone.
Working with plans or elevations submitted by builders or designers, Fentrend compares windows that would be suitable for the project and sends back a report that lists available windows, sizes, different performance levels, plus contact information for applicable manufacturers. The process typically takes about five days, Ingui said.
There is no charge for the service. “It may not be the most lucrative business model,” he said, “but it’s a good service.”
More than two dozen window companies have signed on with Fentrend to participate in comparisons of features and specs.
In one instance, a client who had been planning to install “crappy aluminum windows” from a New York City company sent plans to Fentrend, which later recommended Klearwall windows from Ireland. They saved the customer $10,000 on a $400,000 window package, and while the windows weren’t Passivhaus-certified, they outperformed the original windows by five times, Ingui said.
As a result, heating and cooling equipment in the building could be much smaller and less expensive than planned.
“It’s a pretty significant difference,” he said.