Windows + Doors for Sustainable Homes
What is a Green Home?
According to the US Green Building Council, green homes use less energy, less water and fewer natural resources than conventional homes. They also create less waste and offer healthier living environments.
“A green home incorporates smart design, technology, construction and maintenance elements to significantly lessen the negative impact of the home on the environment and improve the health of the people who live inside.”
-US Green Building Council.
Other factors that affect a home’s green rating include the home’s location, size and design. In addition, insulation properties, water conservation, renewable energy, landscaping, energy efficiency and indoor air quality all contribute to a home’s green rating. Although home owners may not be able to control every factor that contributes to a home’s sustainability, most home owners do have the ability to make important decisions that can lead to a more energy efficient and healthy home.
Green Attributes of Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are important elements of a home’s building envelope. Not only can the right windows and doors create aesthetically pleasing homes, but they can also contribute to a healthier indoor living environment and a reduced environmental footprint.
When selecting windows and doors, there are three features that must be considered: indoor environmental quality, energy performance, and durability — how long the new products will last. It is also desirable for the products to be recyclable.
Indoor Environmental Quality
There are three ways windows and doors contribute to the quality of a home's indoor environment: by the amount of natural light, the effectiveness of ventilation, and minimizing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by adhesives, sealants and finishes.
Natural light contributes not only to the health of the home's occupants, but also reduces the need for electric lighting, especially during the day time. As a result, at least one green building program recommends that natural light should reach at least 75% of a home's interior. To increase available natural light, more windows and/or glass doors can be added to the home or existing windows can be replaced with larger ones, if space permits.
Adequate ventilation is essential to indoor air quality. To ensure plentiful fresh air, homeowners should consider the number, size and placement of windows and doors based on the home's orientation and exposure to prevailing breezes. Learn how Innotech windows and doors can maximize ventilation in your home.
Indoor air quality is also affected by the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by paints and sealants that are on or in some windows and doors. Although most green building programs require all paints and sealants to have low levels of VOCs, some even go as far as to recommend zero levels of VOCs. When selecting the right windows and doors, homeowners should consider whether or not and how often the windows and doors require painting, staining or varnishing, and if the components are assembled with potentially harmful adhesives.
It is reassuring to note that naturally finished Innotech windows and doors are VOC free.
All green building programs place a strong emphasis on the energy efficiency of windows and doors. Because windows can account for up to 30% of heat loss in a home, choosing very energy efficient products can significantly reduce a home's energy consumption. Most green building programs require windows and doors to meet ENERGY STAR™ requirements for their geographic location at a minimum, and some reward the use of products that exceed the ENERGY STAR™ requirements with additional points.
Innotech windows and doors are among the most energy efficient in North America, reducing a home's carbon consumption and saving money on heating and cooling costs. Standard double-glazed Innotech products are ENERGY STAR™ qualified for Canadian Zones A to C (see map). They exceed the requirements of all US ENERGY STAR™ zones, and they exceed the requirements of the BC Energy Efficiency Act.
Triple glazed Innotech products are qualified for ENERGY STAR Zones A through D, the highest ENERGY STAR rating in Canada, which covers the entire country.
One of the most significant attributes of a sustainable building product is how long it will last before it needs to be replaced. Needless to say, if a product needs to be replaced every 10 years, the product’s overall environmental impact — and cost to the home owner! — is far greater than a product that may only need to be replaced every 30 or even 50 years, the expected life of an Innotech window or door.
Every home requires different durability features depending on the home’s location, design and exposure to extreme temperatures. For example, windows and doors that are exposed to strong wind, driving rain and ocean spray will require components that are more water-tight and more corrosion resistant than windows and doors that are sheltered by neighbouring buildings or landscape features.
Durable products have features that include easy maintenance, such as easy replacement of glass without the need to replace the entire system or hardware components that can easily be adjusted to account for normal settlement and wear. They are also designed to effectively manage water infiltration, movements related to temperature changes, and other operating stresses.
Innotech window and door products are designed to last longer in all climate conditions and environmental exposures, thus minimizing their overall environmental impact:
• Heavy duty, steel reinforced profiles are more resistant to damage and warping
• Triple weatherseals seal out water, noise and drafts
• Corrosion resistant (1000 hour salt spray) and adjustable hardware lasts longer
• Easy glass replacement from room side, unlike most window and door systems
• Welded critical joint construction resists water infiltration to protect the home's building envelope
Most Innotech manufacturing waste is recycled. And Innotech window and door profiles are 100% recyclable at the end of their useful service life.
Choosing the right windows and doors will reduce a home’s environmental impact and provide a safe and healthy environment for its occupants. While the different green building programs provide good guidelines, home owners must also take into account their home’s unique requirements to find the ideal windows and doors.