Tips for selecting green windows and doors

What is green?

Green buildings are located, designed, constructed and maintained to promote resource conservation and in turn, to help enhance the well-being of occupants. Green buildings use resources wisely, to help minimize negative impacts on occupants and on the environment by:

  • Drawing on energy-efficient designs and materials built to last
  • Using recycled or sustainable materials
  • Helping  improve indoor air quality
  • Landscaping exteriors to conserve energy and water
  • Providing a comfortable, easy-to-maintain, sustainable environment

In addition, green buildings often provide greater design flexibility, can help improve occupant productivity, and help reduce maintenance and replacement costs over the life of the building.

What is sustainable design?

Sustainable design seeks harmony with the environment as it balances human needs (as opposed to wants) with the carrying capacity of the natural and cultural environments. To achieve sustainable design, a variety of strategies are used during the design, construction and operation of building projects. Green building is one of those strategies used in the process to best utilize resources.

Essential elements in sustainable design include: optimizing the site potential for energy efficiency, water conservation, ease of use and security; using environmentally-friendly products, enhancing indoor air quality and simplifying maintenance to help reduce lifecycle costs.

Green is growing

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), new homes today are twice as energy-efficient as they were 30 years ago, due to cutting-edge green building techniques and technologies available for new and remodeled homes.

Nationwide, roughly 61,000 homes were built using local green building program guidelines from 1990-2004. In 2004 alone, more than 14,000 green homes were constructed.

With the green movement continually on the rise, there are green aspects to consider in every element of a newly constructed building or home. The LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Members of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) representing all segments of the building industry developed LEED and continue to contribute to its evolution.

According to the USGBC, LEED was created to:

  • define "green building" by establishing a common standard of measurement
  • promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • stimulate green competition
  • raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • transform the building market

LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Pella products have been used on several LEED certified projects including gold and platinum ratings.

Green guide

Listed below are recommendations from Pella® Windows & Doors on what to look for in environmentally-friendly products.

Green window and door guide

  1. Manufacturer’s commitment to environmental stewardship — Pella’s commitment to environmental stewardship is firmly rooted in the company’s culture, and has been since the company was established in 1925. Founder Pete Kuyper’s words in 1950 are still true today:

    “We recognize our responsibilities as stewards of our natural resources and the environment, and will avoid wasteful or harmful disregard of the environmental effects of our operation.”

  2. Energy efficiency — the building envelope is a key part of how a building will perform in relation to energy efficiency. When a building envelope has windows and doors, there are holes in that envelope that could compromise the energy efficiency. That’s why window and door choices are critical, because high quality and energy efficient windows and doors should be used.
    • Wood windows with triple glazing and blinds between the glass are one option because they offer excellent U-Values and thermal properties of the wood. Pella® Designer Series® is GreenSpec® (1) listed and in fact, Designer Series windows and patio doors with triple-pane glass are number one for energy efficiency among top national brands.* Most Architect Series®, ProLine®, Impervia® and ThermaStar by Pella® products meet ENERGY STAR® requirements of .35 u-values or less.
  3. Recycled content — evaluate the amount of recycled content used — this can be post-consumer or post-industrial.
  4. Indoor air quality — the main issue with indoor air quality is VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), so at the very least products need to meet some type of requirements such as Green Seal®.
    • Pella products that are unfinished or factory finished with Pella pre-finish or prime meet VOC and chemical components limits of Green Seal® Standard GS-11 requirements.
  5. Daylighting and views — daylighting and views are a key window property for green, because windows allow for natural daylighting which reduces or eliminates the need for artificial lighting saving on energy costs. A key component is to place windows and shading devices in a location that maximizes daylighting and minimizes heat gain. Views are maximized if all occupants have visibility to the outdoors. Studies show this contributes positively to both work environments and life improvement.
  6. Increase ventilation effectiveness — operable windows can assist with this, if the building is going to be naturally ventilated to reduce the need for mechanical systems for fresh air flow.
  7. Light pollution — lights can pollute the night sky and neighboring properties, including the interior lights from a building. The goal is to eliminate light trespass from the building.
    • Pella Designer Series with blinds or shades between the glass are a logical solution to decrease light pollution because of the easy and efficient way to decrease light.
  8. Wood as a building material — utilizing renewable resources.
    • Many Pella products are made from wood — a renewable resource.
  9. Certified wood — there are several wood certification systems available, the most well known being FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative). Most of the well-known certification systems are developed and used with the same key purpose in mind, which is to practice sustainable forestry. How they do this will vary.
    • Wood is the only renewable source for any building material commonly used today. (Source: AIA Environmental Resource Guide)
    • Net volume of softwood on U.S. forestlands was 12 percent greater in 1997 than in 1953. (Source: Forest Resources of the United States, 2002)
    • 80 percent of Pella Corporation’s wood supply comes from 3rd party certified forestry.

A budding green example — Pella® Impervia®

Pella Impervia windows and patio doors, made of patented fiberglass composite materials, are proof that energy efficiency doesn’t only come in the form of wood and doesn’t apply only to new homes. Pella Impervia products support the green movement and contribute to LEED projects in several major categories.

Here’s how this high endurance product from Pella is the perfect solution for a home or business while supporting the green movement:

Energy, atmosphere

  • Pella’s patented, five-layer, engineered fiberglass composite, Duracast®, offers low expansion and contraction rates that help ensure a consistent bond between sash and glass and a weathertight fit between sash and frame.
  • Duracast offers resistance to condensation and superior thermal comfort to those seated near windows.
  • Pella Impervia products with Low-E insulating glass are designed to provide energy efficiency that will save money by lowering heating and cooling bills.
  • These high endurance products are NFRC-certified and meet ENERGY STAR® requirements in all 50 states, helping save on energy costs.
  • All Pella Impervia products are tested for compliance with WDMA Hallmark Certification testing standards.
  • Pella Impervia windows are highly energy efficient, with total unit U-values as low as .28 and air infiltration rates as low as 0.1 cfm/sq.ft. Virtually every unit is factory-tested for air infiltration rates when manufactured. 

Materials and resources

  • Product packaging contains recyclable cardboard and stretch wrap.
  • Pella Impervia products have a 21 percent post-industrial recycled content by weight.
  • Duracast’s  factory-applied powder-coat finish is extremely hard, scratch resistance and does not corrode, which helps windows and doors last through time.

Environmental quality

  • Pella Impervia windows and doors don’t need painting. They arrive with a durable powder-coat paint finish, an environmentally conscious coating, that does not emit any significant air pollutants found in liquid paint finishes, which are typically made with greater than 50 percent solvents which evaporate into the air during spraying and drying.
  • Duracast features a factory-applied powder-coat finish, virtually eliminating VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) during the paint process, and overspray of paint from the powder-coating process can be collected and used again and again.
  • Pella Impervia offers a variety of operable window and door types for fresh air ventilation.

* Superior NFRC U-values and SHGC ratings

Sources:

  1. GreenSpec is a BuildingGreen product information service. It contains detailed listings for more than 1,800 environmentally preferable building products with descriptions, manufacturer information, and links to additional resources. All listings are screened and written exclusively by staff. Pella does not pay for its listings and did not purchase an ad to be included in this directory. Pella’s Designer Series classification in GreenSpec is:

    Pella's Designer Series® wood windows and doors are available with an interior hinged glass panel and with an exterior panel of either single-pane or double-pane Low-E insulating glass with argon**. The exterior is clad with recycled aluminum finished with a baked-on EnduraClad® coating. These windows are made with 21 percent post-industrial recycled content, per the manufacturer. A number of Pella windows have unit U-factors at or below 0.25.

Other useful sources:
U. S. Green Building Council, green building fact sheet

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) green building media fact sheet

**High-altitude Low-E insulating glass does not contain argon.