As efficient building envelopes become more of a priority for builders, you may be considering investing in triple-pane windows for the R-value they offer. The technology behind window design has improved in leaps and bounds as manufacturers attempt to overcome the poor insulation value that windows traditionally offer the home builder. Unfortunately, the improved insulation comes at a high price. Do triple-pane windows offer sufficient energy-saving to justify the investment?
Innovative manufacturers like Norbord that think outside the box have flipped the structural sheathing panels for vertical installation and increased their height. Longer wall sheathing like TallWall enables an overlap at the joists which eliminates hinge points to increase wall strength. Longer sheathing also reduces the number of seams which improves energy efficiency and makes for a stronger, smoother, flatter wall.
A common summer problem is condensation on walls around AC air vents. Moisture is insidious and, once allowed to enter wall structures, can result in damage, mold and mildew. While quick-fix solutions may provide cosmetic relief, it is best to spend the time and money to ensure that moisture is not seeping into your wall structures.
An effective building envelope is a combination of insulating building materials and a reduction in air leakage. This reduction can be achieved by using taller wall sheathing panels and through effectively sealing air leaks. When determining which air leaks construction professionals should focus on, Dave Wolf from Owens Corning Science and Technology has conducted a study to see which leaks require the least effort and sealant and provide the highest returns in building envelope efficiency.
If your residential build occurs in building science climate zones one, two or even three, you may want to reconsider placing the ductwork for your air conditioning units in the attic, even if the attic is ventilated. Studies show you could be adding 15% or more to your energy bill with poor ductwork placement.
Because glass is a poor insulator, the large amounts of energy that are wasted trying to keep the interior of office buildings and schools comfortable make glass unviable for those who wish to create an effective building envelope. Designers are torn between form and function, having to compromise either their vision or sustainability goals. Now phase change windows offer a new evolution in energy efficient window systems that will enable designers to let the light shine in.