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High-Tech Window Glazing

Posted by Suchi Rudra

Jul 1, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Windows by the Numbers (and Letters)

There are several ways to measure a window’s performance. Your region’s climate will dictate which factors to favor.

U-factor: This value measures how well the window prevents heat from escaping a building, and takes into account the window’s framing, glazing, weather-stripping and more. The lower the number, the better the performance. Windows with low U-factors work well in cold climates.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This factor measures how well the window blocks radiant heat, on a scale from 0 to 1. The lower the number, the more heat is blocked. Windows with low SHGC value are suitable for hot climates.

Visible Transmittance (VT): This number measures how much sunlight the window allows into the building, on a scale from 0 to 1. A higher VT value means better daylighting.

R-value: This factor measures the window’s resistance to heat loss, or conductance. In general, R-value isn’t the best measure of a window’s total performance.

Low-e Glass: Low emissivity coatings reflect UV and infrared rays, but allow visible sunlight to pass through the glass. These coatings help keep heat out of a building in summer and keep it from escaping in winter.
WHEN IT COMES TO energy efficiency, windows are problematic; they’re essentially holes in an otherwise insulated wall. Glass makes up about 15 percent of the wall space in an average home, and inefficient windows can cost over $700 a year in wasted heating and cooling costs. This loss accounts for approximately 2 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. Upgrading window products, whether you retrofit or replace, means upgrading building performance and cutting back on hundreds of dollars in energy bills.

Taking the climate zone into consideration is one of the most important factors in selecting the right kind of window product for a new or existing residential construction. Typically, the colder the climate, the lower the U-factor of the window should be. But regardless of region, you also need to control the discrepancy between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the quantity and quality of sunlight and, of course, air leakage.

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Topics: High-Performance Windows, Windows, energy efficient windows, Low-E Window glazing, Building Science

Tiny Houses: Artistic Hideaway

Posted by Juliet Grable

Jun 9, 2014 3:58:00 PM

MOTIVATED TO REDUCE their footprint and their overhead, Kol Peterson and Deb Delman chose a lot in a walkable, bikeable Northeast Portland neighborhood for their Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU.
“The project encompassed a bunch of passions,” says Peterson, who works as Web manager for the Forest Service. Stephen Smith of Design Build Portland acted as general contractor, but Peterson and Delman put in an estimated $15,000 in sweat equity.

Their two-bedroom house measures 799 square feet, but feels much larger, thanks to Studio Eccos designer Brint Riggs’ open plan. The ground level includes a vaulted kitchen, living room nook and a corner office that doubles as a second bedroom. Upstairs, a short bridge connects the master bedroom to the bathroom, and shows off the custom steel railing.

Local artisans added personal touches to the house. Eric Bohne and stained-glass artist David Schlicker collaborated on a stained-glass starburst in a hinged steel frame, which acts as a sound barrier between the master bedroom and the vaulted space. Peterson sourced fixtures from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, flooring from Craigslist, doors from the Rebuilding Center.

Their ADU has been featured on Portland’s Build it Green! (BIG!) Tour two years in a row, and earned an Energy Performance Score of 35. The project came in at just under $100,000; best of all, rental income from the front house now covers the couple’s mortgage.

“I didn’t know a thing about this when we started,” says Peterson, who chronicled the experience in a detailed blog. Last year he began hosting workshops to help people navigate through the process of building their own ADUs.
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Topics: 1500 square feet or less, Energy Recovery Ventilation, energy efficient windows, LED Lighting, Recycled Products

California Dream

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

May 12, 2014 6:46:00 PM

EVERY REMODELING CUSTOMER'S nightmare is having a room or part of the house out of commission. Between product delays and issues with coordinating subcontractors, that time is often protracted. Bath Simple takes away all the frustration, says founder John Crowley. Based in Richmond, California, Bath Simple uses one-stop shopping to streamline the remodeling process for customers all along the West Coast.
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Topics: bathroom, Low Flow Faucets, energy efficient windows, Residential Retrofit, dual-flush toilets

The Annunciation Home

Posted by Matt Power

Apr 8, 2014 1:36:00 PM

When it comes to remodeling 100-plus-year-old homes in New Orleans, Southern Homes’ Chris Kornman notes that deconstruction has been the critical first step of every project. “A lot of these homes are former rentals, and often they haven’t been renovated in decades and have a lot of problems,” he says.

Rather than band-aid these issues, Kornman and his team strip the interior of the home, leaving only the exterior walls. What can’t be reincorporated into the home is then donated to either Habitat for Humanity or Green Project, a local entity with a similar mission for use in current projects.

In the case of Annunciation, a 1,400-square-foot house built in the late 1860s, the homeowner of was at a crossroads; she needed more room but loved her neighborhood and didn’t want to move. She also wanted her  home to be far more energy efficient as she was spending $300 month to air condition it during the summer but could never cool it below 80 F.
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Topics: 1500 square feet or less, energy efficient windows, Residential Retrofit, Louisiana, Recycled Products, Paint

Picture Perfect Puzzle

Posted by Matt Power

Apr 4, 2014 11:34:00 AM

Architect Annie Schwemmer likens any remodeling project to the challenge of putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  
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Topics: 1500 square feet or less, natural daylighting, energy efficient windows, home automation, Exterior Cladding, Residential Retrofit, Utah

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