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Link in with Lisa
By: Lisa Jackson, LEED® AP

Balancing Hurricane Impact Resistance and Energy Efficiency

9:59AM on Wed 12 Oct 2011
With hurricane season wrapping up and cold weather looming around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about balancing hurricane impact resistance and thermal performance when trying to weatherproof your building. As we continue to see code requirements for both hurricanes and thermal performance become increasingly stringent, particularly up the East Coast, it can be a challenge to find products that meet the structural and impact capabilities for hurricanes as well as the insulating requirements for the energy efficiency.
But Kawneer can help.
Kawneer has just added two new thermal windows configurations to its hurricane impact resistant portfolio. We now offer the 8400TL IsoLock® Horizontal Sliding Window and our AA®3350 IsoPort™ Single Hung Window. Both configurations are thermally broken and were tested for large and small missile impact. The 8400TL IsoLock® Horizontal Sliding Window, which is a 4” deep pour and debridged thermal window product, achieved a design pressure of +/- 90psf and water performance of 15 psf. The AA®3350 IsoPort™ Single Hung Window is a 3-1/2” deep polyamide thermal window product that has achieved a design pressure of +/- 50 psf and water performance of 15 psf. Both products were tested with multiple installation options making them ideal for new construction or retrofit applications.

Kawneer-8400TL-Horiz-web<-- AA®3350 IsoPort™
Single Hung Window





8400TL IsoLock®
Sliding Window -->


These are just a few of the thermal hurricane impact resistant products that Kawneer has to offer, but I hope you’ll visit our hurricane impact resistant webpage for more information.
Stay dry, stay warm and stay safe.

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Warm Edge Technology

11:44AM on Thu 13 Jan 2011
Heat gain and loss are critical to the performance of a building and the comfort of its occupants. And, proper insulation is fundamental to any building application. Insulating glass is the most common type of glass used today for building applications. Because windows with insulating glass can have excellent thermal and acoustic properties, they have almost completely replaced basic single pane windows.
The most common type of insulating glass unit is composed of two pieces of glass separated by a hollow aluminum spacer located between the two glass panes at the perimeter edge of the unit. Conventional aluminum spacers have many advantages: they are lightweight, durable and relatively low cost. However, the drawback to a conventional aluminum spacer is its conductive properties, which sometimes could cause the edges of the glass to lose more heat than the center of the glass. In order to overcome the thermal inefficiency of conventional aluminum spacers, a new type of spacer product called “warm-edge technology” has evolved in the industry.
What is Warm-Edge Technology?
Warm-edge refers to the type of spacer material used to separate the panes of glass in an insulating window unit. If the material conducts less heat or cold than a conventional aluminum spacer at the edge of the glass, it is considered to be warm-edge.
Why Warm-Edge Technology?
One of the benefits of warm-edge spacer technology is improved thermal performance. Typically, warm-edge spacers are many times less conductive than aluminum spacers. Since most of the heat loss through a window occurs at the edge of the unit, standard aluminum spacers act against the thermal performance allowing heat to escape. Another benefit is reduced condensation. The material used for many warm-edge spacers is often a very good insulator and provides a more even temperature distribution across the surface of the glass. This increase in temperature raises the dew point, reducing the possibility for condensation.  The reduced condensation minimizes the opportunity for any type of moisture damage or mold. Other benefits of warm-edge spacers include: reduced sound transmission, ability to be applied to virtually any shape, enhanced longevity, and durability.
Kawneer and Warm-Edge Technology
Traco, a division of Kawneer, uses warm-edge technology in their NEXGEN™ Energy Spacer™.  There are different levels and grades of warm-edge spacers available.  As far as thermal performance is concerned, the NEXGEN™ Energy Spacer™ ranks among the top warm-edge spacers as far as thermal and overall performance is concerned. For more information visit traco.com.
The conventional aluminum spacer is still the most common in the market today. But with the benefits of warm-edge spacer technology, why not consider it, or the NEXGEN™ Energy Spacer™, when specifying your project. Have you used warm-edge technology before? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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Seeing Green

9:58AM on Tue 14 Dec 2010
There were a record number of attendees and exhibitors at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago this year. Encouraging, I’d say, that the energy around green building is still going strong especially since it’s been a challenging year for green building press.

The major industry news event this year has been the allegations against U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) regarding misrepresentations of the performance of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certified buildings. But even before the USGBC story made headlines, it seemed the whole year was filled with articles and bloggers generally grumbling about LEED buildings not performing any better (or worse in some cases) than a non-LEED or non-green building. Despite the negative media views, this year’s Greenbuild showed no sign of decreased excitement from years past.  I saw a lot of energy as well as a desire from everyone there – attendees, exhibitors and media – to ensure that the concept of sustainable design and green building are here to stay.   

But not without some improvements of course…

The new version of LEED just went out for public comment and among other modifications and additions it included proposals for a more integrated design process as well as more stringent commissioning and measurement requirements.  The FTC has also proposed an overhaul on its “Green Guides” to help companies avoid making misleading environmental claims about their products.

There’s no argument that buildings use an incredible amount of energy, water and other valuable resources. We need to make sure that we are all taking the idea of sustainability seriously, so that we keep the momentum going strong.
This was a big year for green building news. I’d love to hear from you about what news made the biggest impact on you and what you are doing to help keep the momentum going.

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Out with the Old, In with the New - It’s Time to Retrofit

11:06AM on Mon 22 Feb 2010
Growth, technology, governmental regulations, the need to modernize your building’s look. Any one of these may prompt you to modify your facility. A few years ago, the common solution may have been to tear down the existing structure and replace it with a new one. However, as we continue to face challenging conditions for the new construction market and move toward sustainable building, the better solution might be to renovate. And while renovation can include a number of things, I’m going to talk specifically about replacing, or retrofitting, windows. This process of retrofitting windows can improve energy performance, increase occupant comfort and can even change the appearance of a building for a fraction of the cost it would take to build a new structure.

Building Performance

For better building performance, replace the opening with a high-performance window. High-performance windows are better insulated as well as more airtight and watertight. Better insulation increases thermal performance, giving windows a low U-factor. All of these features reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling, which results in lower utility bills. Many technological advances have been made to significantly enhance the thermal performance of windows, including improved framing materials, low-emissivity and solar control coatings, low-conductance gas fills, improved thermal breaks and edge spacers, and better edge sealing techniques. Windows can enhance the thermal performance by minimizing heat loss in heating-dominated climates and by minimizing solar heat gain in cooling-dominated climates.
Occupant Comfort

Comfort and satisfaction can be measured in many ways including lighting, acoustics, ventilation, temperature and humidity. To increase occupant comfort, replace fixed openings with operable vents. Adding operable vents gives the occupant control of ventilation. You can also include motorized actuators into your design and incorporate them into the HVAC system. Heating and cooling systems that ensure adequate ventilation and proper filtration can have a dramatic and positive impact on indoor air quality.

It ’s important that you keep your building up to code. Check codes periodically because they may have changed since your building was erected. Depending on your region, these can include water, thermal, or hurricane resistance. Replacing windows with hurricane or blast resistant windows may help you keep your building up to code. Also, the performance standards on window products are ever increasing, so it may be beneficial to replace your window with one that offers high-performance.

If you want to change the look of your building, the sky is the limit. Something as simple as changing the type of window can dramatically change the appearance of a building. For example, you can replace projected windows with hung windows. Or you can add a window with applied or muntin grids. You can even change the size of the grids, going from small lites of glass to large lites of glass.

Changing a building’s windows provides an opportunity to improve the building without the huge investment of constructing a whole new building. By carefully selecting your windows, you can provide energy efficiency, a contact with nature, time orientation, and ventilation. These are just a few ideas I wanted to share about the value of retrofitting with windows.

Let me know if you have other suggestions- I’d love to hear them!

Lisa Szematowicz

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Designing Green: A look at school buildings

10:38AM on Thu 18 Feb 2010

It's hard to believe we are two months into 2010 and it’s almost March.

For Kawneer, March indicates school construction season is right around the corner. With schools at the top of my mind, I thought I would take some time to discuss a few things you should consider when designing schools. 

I recently read that schools are typically built to meet code and nothing more. This could be problematic for occupants, especially when proper ventilation and lighting are not taken into consideration. Cost is often cited as a reason that schools are designed to only meet code; however, I’ve also read that building a green school doesn’t necessarily cost more than a school built just to meet code.

So if building a high-performance school doesn't have to cost more than a conventionally built school, why not just make all schools green?

First, let’s define: What is a green school?

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a “green school” is defined as a school building or facility that creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money.

We want to build healthy learning environments that are energy efficient and that also combine good lighting, comfort, acoustics and air quality. Several studies have demonstrated that these additions directly benefit student health and performance.

But if we are to include these aspects in school buildings, what does that mean in terms of design?


Daylight can improve the overall performance of a building. It’s important to develop strategies to provide natural lighting. Skylights and large windows allow daylight to stream in, reducing energy costs and improving student concentration and performance.  Light shelves bounce sunlight deep into a room and provide even light distribution. Adjustable blinds and shades help reduce glare. Directional blinds stop direct sunbeams and bounce light deeper into space. An efficient lighting strategy, including natural daylighting, can provide proper levels of illumination and reduce energy costs. Studies have shown that lighting has a positive impact on productivity and well-being of students.

Natural ventilation

Clear indoor air quality can improve health. Comfortable indoor temperatures enhance productivity and keep students more alert. Fresher, cleaner air can be achieved with operable windows or ventilation systems that provide a constant supply of air.
Energy Efficiency

While daylighting and natural ventilation have a direct impact on student and faculty performance, energy efficiency has a direct impact on saving money. When building schools, consider using framing systems with a low U-value. The U-value measures the rate of heat loss (or how well a product prevents heat from escaping).  Thermal breaks should be specified in order to minimize heat transfer and condensation on the frames. And finally, try to incorporate features such as proper shading, insulated glass, and even solar panels.

Heath and Safety
Above all, green schools should deliver on health and safety. By providing adequate ventilation and keeping relative humidity below 60 percent, you can inhibit mold growth. This is important because the presence of mold can lead to serious health concerns, especially in children. Regional needs such as blast resistance and hurricane resistance should also be taken into consideration when selecting products.

Built right, green schools are productive learning environments, complete with ample natural light, high-quality acoustics and air that is safe to breathe. So, as you begin your next school project, make sure that you take all of these factors into consideration. After all, it can be easy being green.

To help you select products and systems for schools and other institutional projects visit the Kawneer's Institutional Solutions web page.

Let me know if you have anything to add regarding challenges associated with designing a "green school".

Best regards,


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Mixed mode ventilation – are you ready?

2:47PM on Thu 19 Nov 2009
While I spent most of the Greenbuild conference at the Kawneer booth and walking the expo floor, I did have the opportunity to attend a few educational sessions. One of the most interesting sessions I sat in on addressed the topic of mixed-mode ventilated buildings.

Mixed-mode design is a ventilation strategy that combines natural ventilation (operable windows) with mechanical ventilation (mechanical air conditioning), allowing the building to be ventilated either mechanically or naturally.  The goal is to reduce the environmental impact and potentially lower the energy cost of the building, while maintaining or even improving the well-being and satisfaction of the occupants.

It is probably more difficult to design a building by mixing operable windows with traditional systems, but there are several advantages to mixed-mode buildings. The first is a reduction in the amount HVAC energy that is used. Second, is the enhancement of the indoor air quality and comfort and well-being of the occupants.

There are several different approaches you can take when designing mixed-mode ventilation into your building. Some factors to consider are your location’s climate, the building’s function, the client’s expectations and any site constraints that may alter your design. Certainly buildings in mild climates with low pollution would be ideal areas to incorporate a mixed mode ventilation system.

Tied into the discussion was radiant heating and cooling strategies. Both involve a method of changing the temperature of a space by using water pipes to distribute heating or cooling throughout a building and are usually installed in the walls or floors. Since the process to change the temperature using this method can take more time than a conventional system, using operable vents can make the process more effective, especially with radiant cooling.

My biggest take away from this meeting was that integrated design approach is the key to making mixed-mode ventilation systems work effectively in your building.  Collaboration between architect, mechanical engineer, etc. is essential.

It wasn’t that long ago when HVAC systems didn’t exist and the only way to ventilate your building was by operable windows. Have we gotten so accustomed to controlled air conditioning that we aren’t willing to go back to naturally airing out buildings?

So what do you think about incorporating mixed-mode ventilation into your new building or building renovation? Have you tried any of kawneer's wide range of operable windows? Do you have any design strategies to share?

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Lisa Szematowicz

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A Newcomer’s Perspective: First Impressions of Greenbuild

1:12PM on Wed 18 Nov 2009

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix last week. I have attended several other industry trade shows, but was a first timer to Greenbuild. I had always heard good things about the show, but wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

The show

Overall, I thought the show was very well organized. The registration stations made getting into the show a breeze.  The streamline process made for virtually no waiting in lines for badge and bag pick up. And the online scheduler for education sessions was a really handy tool for managing all the events throughout the show.  I was also impressed with how green practices were incorporated in every aspect of the show. Exhibitors were given strict guidelines for booth construction and set up. Also, the Expo guide included a section called Greening Tips, which provided tips on how to incorporate green practices while at the show with information on the recycling and composting stations. The Greening Tips also provided some ideas to being green outside the show by including different transportation options for getting around the area. Even the convention center itself is a model of green building, achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Sliver certification for its new West building.

The vendors

I was impressed by the number of vendors and the number of different industries represented at the show. There was everything from building materials to site materials and more. It was really encouraging to see the number of companies that truly see the benefits in of green building. I was also impressed by the amount of innovation and integrated approaches to building design.

The attendees

Most notably (and what I think sets this show apart from the others) was the level of excitement and energy around the show. It could be from the way the show is organized or the variety of different vendors or just the participants themselves excited about green building. Compared with other industry events, I was really impressed with the engagement of the attendees. The attendees seemed very well informed and educated. I was also impressed with the number of students that stopped by our Kawneer booth. It was encouraging to see that future generations of architects are so passionate about green building.

These are just a few of my thoughts as a first timer to the Greenbuild conference. Are there any veterans out there that have a different perspective? Or want to discuss how the show has evolved over the years?

Come back soon for more of my discussion on Greenbuild 2009.


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