Volume 14, Issue 8- October 2013
The Winners of DWM’s 2013 Green Awards
Those who rose to the top of the ranks for DWM’s Annual Green Awards represent all facets of the door and window industry. They serve as a reminder that the industry continues to embody green principles and practices.
This year’s winners include a window manufacturer that embraces energy efficiency at every turn, a supplier that helps keep the building and window air tight, a glass supplier that offers new solutions for northern and southern regions and a window manufacturer who took the extra step to train its dealers on the benefits of Energy Star windows.
Investing Energy in Training
Soft-Lite Windows, based in Streetsboro, Ohio, worked to change all that. In 2013, the company worked closely with Energy Star representatives to develop a brand-new structured Energy Star training program to educate its dealers and distributors. The program, launched in July, encompasses an overview of Energy Star including qualification criteria for door and window products, the anatomy of energy-efficient windows, information on retail partnerships and how dealers can best promote the program.
Trainees must successfully complete an evaluation to pass the training, adds Melanie Thomas, marketing coordinator. And they can’t just skate by—they must score 100 percent, and then they receive a certificate to use in their showrooms or in-home presentations with consumers.
“The company's new training program is designed to work in conjunction with our existing product training, which does include education on the Energy Star program,” says Thomas. “Soft-Lite has always utilized a series of product training modules, all of which include a detailed anatomy of each specific energy-efficient window model, as well as the NFRC testing data and Energy Star qualification labels for that model with each of the glass options available.”
The training program is administered to every new dealer and distributor by a Soft-Lite sales manager.
The company’s goal is to have most of its large dealers trained before year-end.
“Our long-term goal, for 2014, is to make this training program electronic so our dealers can go through the training and complete the evaluation on-line, and then the system will generate their certificate for them to print,” adds Thomas.
Excited about Energy Efficiency
“If offers the same U-factor performance people have become accustomed to,” says Clancy. “It brings in a new level of passive solar gain to take advantage of free heat the winter sun has to offer.”
Embracing Efficiency at Every Turn
“They are a manufacturer that truly embraces energy efficiency—in principle, with the products they make and how they make their products,” says Milanese.
When talking with Terry Rex, vice president of sales and marketing for BF Rich, you realize Milanese is deadly accurate in his assessment. From the way it transports its products utilizing GPS systems, and the most efficiency delivery methods designed to save fuel, to manufacturing to working with energy-conscious suppliers, everything the company does is looked at from a green angle. The company started this energy quest back in March 2009 when it adopted its environmental manufacturing commitments.
“Our products require less cleaning so there are less cleaning chemicals used,” says Rex. “They save energy so the consumers save energy dollars and we lessen our dependency on foreign oil. Our screens allow 25 percent more light through them so there is less of demand for artificial lighting.”
Equipment used in the manufacturing process includes machines like Quik-Dose, available from Quanex Building Products, which increases the fill rate in glass gas filling.
This machine rapidly fills insulating glass (IG) units with liquid argon for better thermal and sound insulating properties, says Rex. It calculates each unit's volume size automatically and doses the appropriate amount of liquid gas to the insulating glass unit in a vertical orientation. The liquid reaches the bottom of the unit via gravity with less waste and turbulent effect, usually associated with other conventional gas-fill methods. The liquid gas displaces the lighter moist air at an approximate volume change of 1:841 (argon). This expansion and the fact that the gas is heavier than air, pressurizes the window and forces the air within the unit to vent to the outside atmosphere. After the unit has pressure equalization, the opening is sealed. BF Rich yields a 96-97 percent fill rate, adds Rex. In fact, when working with its vendors, the company requires them to comply with its online Vendor Quote Request (VQR) and Vendor Purchase Orders (VPO).
VQRs and VPOs are exchanged electronically between BF Rich buyers and vendors.
“These eliminate the need for mailing and faxing, allow electronic orders to be placed, improve lead times for custom orders and search capabilities for items such as order deadlines and performance and evaluation criteria,” says Rex.
Vendors with green business practices include Truth Hardware and Quanex Building Products.
The company produces its GreenShield High Performance Window with these efficient systems and components.
“The product upgrade is an ‘easy sell’ to those who are already conscious
of the environment,” says Milanese. He says this is based on many factors,
which he explains to the customer, which includes:
“Since glass failure is a big reason for replacement of glass, reducing the failure rate, saves the energy and additional waste introduced into the environment caused by the need to replace failed glass,” says Milanese.
• Heat Control Ag3: This low-E glass from PPG Industries includes a triple silver heat control soft coat that keeps spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer while filtering out 94 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays. The glass is accompanied by PPG’s low-maintenance glass product as well. When it comes down to it, what matters is the success dealers like Milanese have selling the product to homeowners.
“I really believe the features and benefits of the GreenShield High Performance Window allow me, as a window specialist, to improve the overall home ownership experience, while being good for the environment,” says Milanese. “That is the distinction that has made the BF Rich GreenShield product so popular with my clients and allowed me to get over 95 percent of all of my window clients to invest in this green product.”
Rex adds that the company now produces approximately 40 percent of its premium windows with the GreenShield optio
In fact, it was the introduction of the GreenShield product that caused the company to look at its overall operations from an energy efficiency standpoint.
“We came out with GreenShield and we needed to make sure we did everything we needed to be doing from a manufacturing standpoint so we looked at all the areas we could be conservative in some areas,” says Rex. All those areas formed the basis of the company’s environmental manufacturing commitments.
Does this focus on efficiency, along with GreenShield, make a difference when enticing a new customer? Rex says new customers always ask, “Do you have an entry-level product?”
“We are seeing that for 27 percent of the market,” says Rex. “We tell them yes but then we are quick to remind them that 73 percent of market is looking for value-added products. We not only have proprietary designs we make but we are one of very few who have a package such as GreenShield. Even in a cost-driven market the consumer very easily relates to what we have done with this line with these standard features.”
“In most markets where everyone is selling the same product, if you have a product that is unique it is an advantage,” he adds. “It also allows our customers to make a reasonable margin; and of course our goal is to help our customers be successful.”
No Energy Escaping Here
The products in the system are designed to work together to better protect the entire building envelope and to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. By bringing the key benefits of silicone technology to the air and weather barrier market, the company has created a system that provides the industry with better protection from the elements, including airtightness, long-term UV protection, breathability and weatherability.
The DefendAir 200 is a 100-percent silicone liquid-applied air and weather barrier with air infiltration rates that help keep energy costs down. This vapor-permeable, one-component, water-based coating cures to form a flexible membrane that is impervious to water but has the ability to “breathe,” allowing water to escape from inside the substrate.
The company’s Silicone Transition System consists of easy-to-install, high-performance silicone rubber strips and corners that form a continuous airtight transition from window to wall. This system offers durable weatherproofing protection against air and water infiltration.
Finally, its Silicone Weather Barrier Sealant ensures continuous sealing without additional penetrations, and the 791 Silicone Weatherproofing Sealant works with other Dow Corning materials in the system to provide long-term durability for the building envelope, says the company.
Keeping Canadian Homeowners In Line
“We are, in fact, on the Energy Star Canada’s most efficient list and have the number two and three highest Energy Rating (ER) window in Canada,” says Bernard Rokicki, chief operating officer. Fiberglass is definitely an up and coming market, explains Anthony Bartolini, U.S. sales manager. “It’s a market we will serve well because our products are high in the performance category.
For those who may still be wary of fiberglass as it is an emerging material, it’s proven in Europe.
“This is an excellent way for people to use a proven factor that comes from Europe and use that technology and model into their customer’s home design, says Bartolini. “The average American moves every seven years and now in North America, they are rooting themselves and looking for value. When end users are building homes and spending their own money for their dream house they understand and realize that the additional cost up front will yield savings later. Everyone is cognizant of that and anticipating that for the future. So with that shift in mentality, they are looking beyond price points and looking for an energy-efficient product with an established return on investment (ROI).”
Inline Fiberglass also utilizes passive solar concepts, thus it is very involved in the passive house market.
“At the end of the day ROI is important but there are case studies showing that very energy-efficient homes can be built at not much of a premium,” he says. “It’s just a matter of time we [fiberglass] become a main player from a framing standpoint but that hasn’t happened yet—there are no incentives. Maybe the next administration can institute an incentive for passive houses.”
Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM/Shelter magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @dwmmag, read her blog at dwmmag.com and like DWM magazine on Facebook.