How to Choose Sustainable Materials for Your Windows and Doors
Building is on the rebound. Almost 10 years after the recession, when nearly all building was halted, builders are back to business and the number of residential construction projects continues to grow.
Builders today have more choices of materials than ever before. Wood, vinyl, and fiberglass are all popular choices. And all provide sustainable benefits to homes, offices, and Mother Earth.
If new windows and doors are in your future, read on to see which material is best for your application.
Timber harvested from sustainable forests is widely used in creating home products. When timber is cut, seedlings are planted in its place. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent organization that promotes responsible forest management. Their certification system is internationally recognized for products that are the result of responsible forestry.
“We at Pella Corporation work with the FSC to ensure the timber used in our wood windows and doors is sourced from sustainably managed forests,” said Dan Parrish, engineering manager at Pella Corporation
Because preparing timber for the wood windows involves little carbon usage, Pella is optimizing its usage of the wood with up to 80 percent of incoming lumber actually utilized to create products.
Waste is also minimized and repurposed. Pella’s remaining sawdust is turned into animal bedding. A local recycling company purchases scrap windows, separating the glass from metal, and recycling the components. And Pella’s scrap aluminum is sent to an aluminum recycling facility. Pella ships waste from aluminum processing back to suppliers. That waste then gets reused.
Wood stands up to extreme heat and extreme cold, and the treatment applied to wood during manufacturing protects the wood from rot. The aluminum cladding on the exterior is low maintenance, which means the windows will last a long time. It does not crack, split, warp or become brittle over time.
Vinyl is widely used for windows. Easy care, energy-efficient vinyl windows don't need painting, staining or refinishing. Fully welded sashes and frames add strength and durability. Cost effective, durable, energy efficient with low impact on the environment.
Vinyl is also highly recyclable. It can be used to create other vinyl products. Pella funnels much of its vinyl waste back into window material.
Fiberglass is known for creating extremely durable windows and doors with insulating properties. Pella’s Duracast is stronger than vinyl. It requires little maintenance with no painting, staining, or refinishing.
This window material is also recyclable. Pella optimizes yields and efficiency with its own fiberglass manufacturing processes. Duracast fiberglass achieves durability with thinner wall cavities in the profile than other fiberglass windows and doors, which means Pella is saving the environment by using less material.
Made of sand, glass is one of the most sustainable building materials homeowners can choose. It’s fully recyclable into other glass products, and recycled over and over again throughout its lifetime. Pella recycles post-industrial glass.
But not all glass is created equal when it comes to keeping energy in the home. Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25-to-30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use.
Therefore, it is important to choose glass that has the ultimate energy-saving properties.
Manufacturing sustainable windows is only 5 percent of the story. By selecting energy efficient windows, a consumer can save energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR designation on windows. ENERGY STAR-qualified new and replacement windows lower energy bills. According to ENERGY STAR, the typical home will save $126–$465 a year when replacing single-pane windows. Homeowners can save $27–$111 a year with double-pane, clear glass replacement windows. Rigorous testing helps ensure energy efficiency standards are met.
“Pella has the unique capability to do full testing and certification to industry standards onsite. Pella utilizes its test lab to find sustainable and innovative ways to build its products.” said Mike Hamand, Pella engineer.
As homeowners become increasingly educated and concerned about the products used to build their homes, options abound that are sustainable, durable, energy efficient and beautiful. And when paired with the right glass, the combination can be a positive for homeowners’ wallets.