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Durable Windows for Durable Walls

Last month, Innotech was selected to discuss high-performance windows with the Natural Resource Canada Vancouver LEEP™ Builder Group. Prior to our presentation, two fenestration experts discussed window design and installation methods.

One of those specialists was Al Jaugelis of RDH Building Engineering. He discussed selecting and installing durable windows. Here are five important takeaways from his insightful presentation:

1. Durable Window Framing

Not all vinyl or PVC has the same quality features. Reputable North American window and door manufacturers use profiles tested and certified to comply with the AAMA 303 specification for PVC quality, which sets a standard for properties such as dimensional stability, heat resistance, colour integrity and long term durability. It is reassuring to know whether or not your window and door manufacturer of choice uses framing members certified by AAMA.

2. Durable Insulating Glass

In addition to a durable frame, durable windows must have a durable insulating glass unit (IGU). While building codes require IGUs to comply with strict accelerated durability and argon gas retention requirements, there is no active enforcement of this requirement. There are however third party certification programs that ensure IGUs are subject not only to initial testing but also ongoing quality inspection. Purchasing windows and doors from manufacturers who use tested and certified IGUs helps protect builders and home owners by ensuring greater durability.

3. Durable Vinyl Frame Designs

The design of a window system plays a large part in its overall durability. Many lower cost vinyl windows rely on tapes or adhesives to retain the glass within the frame. However, the most durable vinyl windows rely on rigid structural members to hold the glass securely in the frame, and to maintain original performance attributes when glass is broken and needs to be replaced.

4. Install It and Forget It

Window installation is critical to the long-term performance of a wall. A durable window installation extends the rainscreen concept into the rough opening to prevent catastrophic air and water leakage into the wall.

5. Future Proof the Window Installation

While durable windows can provide decades of optimal performance, it is wise to anticipate the day when they could be replaced by products with improved functionality or aesthetic properties. Using replaceable exterior trims can allow for easy future window replacement without damage to the critical air control barriers in the wall.

About Al Jaugelis

Al Jaugelis is a fenestration specialist with RDH Building Engineering Ltd. Specializing in both air-water-structural and energy performance issues, Al has a keen understanding of fenestration industry standards, testing, and certification programs in both Canada and the US. Al is currently an associate member of the CSA A440 Committee, an active member of the Fenestration Canada Technical Committee, the NRCan Energy Efficient Fenestration Steering Committee, and is a technical consultant member of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). He writes on window and door issues on the NAFS in Canada blog.

About the Natural Resource Canada LEEP™ Initiative

Natural Resources Canada’s Local Energy Efficiency Partnerships (LEEP) initiative is a builder driven technology assessment, selection and trial process. It is intended to help builders identify, assess and select new innovative technologies for their use in their projects to achieve higher energy performance. The BC’s Home Owner Protection Office, BC Hydro, Fortis BC, the City of New Westminster, and the City of Vancouver all worked with NRC to bring LEEP™ to BC.