The past few decades have seen an explosion in the number of homes certified as “green” by programs such as LEED and Energy Star. Currently, according to Dodge Data & Analytics, green construction totals about 30% of the United States housing market in dollar terms.
The definition of a green or sustainable home has broadened over the decades. Experience, knowledge, and innovations developed by architects, contractors, and manufacturers have produced a set of criteria which signals that a house is thoughtfully designed and built.
Consider these 5 criteria when building a green home:
1. Energy Efficiency —ENERGY STAR® certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house's carbon footprint.
2. Durability — Durability is key. If the natural resource used is sustainable and the product helps save energy, but then falls apart or fails before its time, that will negate the benefits. Most premium manufacturers offer four types of window materials:
- Fiberglass —Fiberglass frames expand and contract at approximately the same rate as the insulated glass it holds for improved energy efficiency and strength.
- Vinyl — Vinyl frames are made primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which has many advantages, including low maintenance. At first glance, competing windows may look the same, but there can be key differences in the vinyl recipe used and how vinyl parts are formed to make a window structurally strong and optimize insulation performance.
- Aluminum — Tried and tested over time, aluminum windows provide designers with a sleek and stylish profile, and provide homeowners with a material that is virtually maintenance free. Thermally improved aluminum should be considered.
- Wood — Wood frames remain popular for the warm aesthetic look. A hybrid configuration of wood on the inside and fiberglass on the exterior will provide the best appearance and durability.
3. Air quality — Good indoor environmental quality is valued as a major component in sustainable building. Poor air quality exacerbates many illnesses such as headaches and asthma.
4. Views and Daylighting — In terms of occupants’ health, views, and daylighting are critical. Daylight improves moods and can provide a connection with nature.
5. Comfort — High performance windows and patio doors add comfort to homes by maintaining a consistent indoor temperature no matter what the season.
With awareness each class of window material and its environmental factors, a builder will be in a better position to choose the best window material to achieve the project’s sustainability goals.