Volume 45, Issue 11 - November 2010


Researchers Study “Cradle-to-Grave” Life Cycle of North American Windows

A new report focused on providing a standardized, accurate and representative environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) for commercial and residential windows has been released as a precursor to a full “cradle-to-grave” LCA study of commercial and residential windows. The study, once completed, is expected to serve as a roadmap for collecting, compiling and interpreting that data. It will be based on case studies and review more than 150 window variations, with the expectation that it will lead to a modular database through which additional window permutations and combinations may be assessed.

The report, “Life Cycle Assessment of North American Residential and Commercial Windows: Life Cycle Goal and Scope Specification,” was published by the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota and the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. Its goal and scope were commissioned by the Department of Energy, and the LCA will be commissioned by other U.S. government departments as well as a number of industry organizations, including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Glass Association of North America (GANA) and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance. Jeff Inks, vice president of code and regulatory affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), says his group also is considering levels of funding for the program.

“Because LCA is growing in importance as criteria for energy-efficient and green building programs and now new green building codes and standards, we are very interested in this work,” Inks says.

“Many component manufacturers have been scrambling to assess and prove their green credentials and how they can help designers and owners accumulate points in the various green building rating systems,” says Rich Walker, AAMA president and chief executive officer. “These rating systems go beyond energy efficiency to address a much wider range of concerns involving site use and occupant wellbeing. LCA is considered the scientific way to assess the overall environmental impact of materials, products and building assemblies. LCA is a systematic, cradle-to-grave evaluation from resource extraction and embodied energy (energy used in the production of the product) through to disposal.”

Bill Yanek, executive vice president of GANA, says the association and its membership believe that in energy-efficiency debates emphasis is too often placed upon the energy intensity of the glass manufacturing process.

“The energy saving and energy producing aspects of value-added glass products and clean energy using glass should be part of the debate. A thorough life cycle analysis will provide a more complete picture of the role of glass in energy efficiency,” Yanek says.

The report notes that case studies for the commercial functional unit will include 1,500- by 2,500-mm (fixed), 900- by 1,500-mm (casement) and 1,500- by 2,500-mm (curtainwall) windows installed in a high-rise office building for 73 years, modeled in six climates; double- and triple-glazed produced with sputter-coat and hard-coat low-E glass, all with air-fill and aluminum spacers; and frames made of fiberglass and aluminum.

Researchers say that the results of the LCA may be incorporated into programs such as Energy Star® and included in various software and calculation tools. They add that the methodology, results and interpretation of the LCA study will be subjected to concurrent critical review to ensure the project is consistent with ISO 14040 standards.

ICC Draws Criticism in Draft Green Code; Promotes Green Federal Buildings
The International Code Council (ICC) has posted the first set of formal public comments in the development of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Comments on the building envelope systems, including fenestration, have been quick to point out that some sections—particularly chapter 6 on Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Atmospheric Quality—still need major revisions. Thomas D. Culp of Birch Point Consulting LLC, representing the Aluminum Extruders Council; Amanda Hickman of InterCode Inc., representing 3M Renewable Energy Division and the International Window Film Association; Thomas S. Zaremba of Roetzel & Andress, representing AGC Flat Glass North America Inc. and Pilkington North America Inc.; Henry Gorry of Guardian Industries Corp.; and Paul Bush of PPG Industries commented on section 606.1.1 and were critical of some references.

“The current draft of this section contains many flaws including incorrect section references, references to R-, C- and F-factors that don’t exist, missing product categories, and technically flawed criteria. For example, the fenestration criteria appear to partially come from an old ASHRAE proposal that was never approved, and three out of the four different categories for fenestration were also inadvertently removed, including curtainwall/storefront, heavy commercial metal-framed windows and commercial entrance doors. As a consequence, only the values for residential-style nonmetal windows were kept, which simply do not apply to structural commercial products. This technical oversight raises life-safety issues based on the differences in structural performance, and results in criteria that make no technical sense,” said one of the general comments.

The comments continue, “For heavy commercial windows, this would require triple glazing in Hawaii, and sometimes even quadruple glazing in the middle and north of the country. Also of significant concern, ADA-compliant commercial entrance doors would not be able to comply. Finally, the inconsistency with the format of ICC’s own International Energy Conservation Code, as well as other standards like ASHRAE 90.1, ASHRAE 189.1, and ANSI/GBI 01, will create confusion for building code officials, designers and manufacturers.”

Rather than ask that the IGCC begin from scratch, the group offered some suggestions: “The correction proposed here is to simply reference the prescriptive tables of ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1. With the new partnership between IGCC and ASHRAE 189.1, it makes sense to simply refer to the prescriptive tables of ASHRAE 189.1, as an appropriate high performance green standard that has already gone through a consensus-based process.”

The Public Version 2.0 has been posted online for code change submittals. The deadline for submitting code change proposals is January 3, 2011, with hearings scheduled for May 16-22, 2011, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel in Dallas.

YKK, Project Frog Deliver Smart Building Solutions
YKK AP America in Austell, Ga., has formed a strategic relationship with Project Frog Inc., a manufacturer of “smart” building systems, to provide its architectural aluminum products for use in Project Frog’s sustainable building solutions. This partnership enables Project Frog to provide its customers with customized architectural solutions to meet a variety of performance levels up to and including net-zero, based on the customer’s specific needs.

In order to meet the needs of Project Frog to assure repeatable quality, minimize field labor and support rapid on-site installation with little or no site waste, YKK AP joined forces with its exclusive U.S. fabricated products distributor, Erie Architectural Products. Together, Erie and YKK AP will provide fully pre-assembled and pre-glazed façade systems for mobilization to Project Frog building sites across the globe.

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The International Code Council (ICC) announced that Rhode Island is the first state to adopt the International Green Construction Code (IGCC). The Rhode Island Green Buildings Act identifies the IGCC as an equivalent standard in compliance with requirements that all public agency major facility projects be designed and constructed as green buildings. The Rules and Regulations to implement the Act take effect this month.

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