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
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
YKK, Project Frog Deliver Smart Building
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
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.
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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