The industry takes aim at a distant future through environmental impacts

After more than a decade, you might expect [DWM]’s editors to scrape the bottom of the barrel for its Annual Green Awards. But it’s quite the opposite. Year after year, we find bountiful examples for how fenestration-related companies aim to reduce their environmental impacts.

From more efficient products and extensive recycling programs to forest stewardship—with the latest awards, the industry proves it’s looking to the distant future with initiatives designed to protect our planet. With or without tighter regulations, they say they’re moving forward. It’s with great pleasure that we bring you this year’s winners.


GlassCraft Door Company

For improving the insulating abilities of one of the door industry’s steadfast materials

Not every award-worthy performance gain has to represent a giant leap forward. GlassCraft Door Company nabbed our editors’ attention, and the attention of attendees at the International Builders Show this year, by eking out improvements to a mainstay material.

According to market research firm The Freedonia Group, steel continues to hold down more than half of market share among all entry doors. In cost-versus-value reports, the material consistently offers excellent returns on investment. Further, “… if security is your prime objective, you can’t beat a steel door, which will not only deter intruders but also withstand fire and moisture,” writes residential construction mogul Bob Villa.

But those accolades come with a major caveat: steel is a poor insulator.

In 2019, GlassCraft introduced a new steel door design that incorporates a complete thermal break. While other steel doors have long featured thermally-broken cores, the company’s Buffalo Forge ThermaPremium and ThermaPlus entry doors also feature thermal breaks in their frames, via the jamb legs and headers, and glass—including decorative options. They also include composite materials on all four edges and an Endura (composite) threshold. The end result is a door that avoids thermal bridging to prevent heat loss and gain, as well as the issues of frosting
and condensation.

Company officials say thermal performance ratings are forthcoming.

Industry Partners

National Fenestration Rating Council

For 30 years of industry collaboration that’s aimed at more efficient products and public awareness

As the nation’s largest independent, third-party rater of energy performance among fenestration products, the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) aims to make its mark on the green movement partly by “empowering people to compare windows, doors and skylights that can help make homes and buildings more comfortable and more energy efficient.”

With the goal for “bringing together industry,” for 30 years now the nonprofit has proven that it’s more than just a label, as it aims to increase public awareness—partly by listening and responding to industry partners, officials say.

“We understand that our energy performance ratings are only relevant as long as we can openly cooperate with industry stakeholders,” the Council declares in its latest annual report. In addition to 257 fenestration manufacturers and suppliers, among its lengthy list of collaborative partners NFRC also includes: architects, industry organizations, consultants, government agencies and officials, educational institutions and researchers, inspection and accreditation agencies, labs and public/consumer associations. Over the course of a given year, officials report that the organization participates in more than a dozen industry events and tradeshows.

The non-profit is also driven to serve the public, its core mission suggests, as, “Energy consumption affects us all,” writes Deborah Callahan, the Council’s CEO.

When the council got its start, officials sketched its first logo on a napkin. The typical window had a U-factor rating of 0.6—or higher—officials say. These days, the organization continues to target the $50 billion lost annually through inefficient windows. To this we say: Happy 30th anniversary NFRC.


Caldwell Manufacturing Co.

For envisioning how windows and home automation might play a bigger role in energy savings

As more automation finds its way into doors and windows, [DWM]’s editors have long dreamed up (and looked for) how automated fenestration might play a bigger role in building efficiencies. Imagine our surprise when Caldwell announced it was developing window automation systems designed to play an active role in cooling and ventilation.

In development for both hung and projected windows, by tying a multifunctional, electro-mechanical operating system into windows, the company’s prototypes have the ability to connect with home automation systems, allowing windows to automatically open and close for passive ventilation. What’s more—by incorporating artificial intelligence through things like temperature sensors, weather data and HVAC control systems—automatic open and close functions can be triggered as a method of environmentally friendly temperature control, saving energy. By tying to additional sensors, the same system can provide ventilation for smoke evacuation and CO2 ventilation, while also offering an additional option for meeting ADA requirements, officials suggest.

OMNI-MATION (projected window automation) and ENGINUITY (single-panel residential patio door and hung window automation) were showcased at GlassBuild, where we had a chance to see them (already) in action.

Reduce and Reuse

Ply Gem

For its no-stone-unturned approach to environment-friendly production

The green movement and manufacturing aren’t only about the products each company produces, but also about the materials, methods and energy used to make them. Inside offices and manufacturing facilities, door and window companies have the opportunity to reduce their overall impacts by reusing and recycling materials. [DWM]’s editors found Ply Gem’s efforts to reduce consumption and reuse materials to be extremely impressive.

When it comes to reducing energy, the company reports that three out of four of its plants have converted to high-efficiency lighting. Combined with turning off lights, officials say that these measures save around 148,000 Kwh per month, per plant—an amount that they estimate is enough to power around 1,800 homes per year. When it comes to water usage, any that’s utilized for cooling is placed into closed-loop systems for filtering and recycling.

For conserving fossil fuels and reducing CO2 impacts, when it comes to transporting products, Ply Gem reports that it utilizes route optimization software to ensure the shortest patterns. For its East Coast window operations, miles driven were reduced by nearly 5%.

When it comes to recycling, the list of programs is lengthy, including pallets, batteries, light bulbs, paper, cans, printer cartridges and cardboard, as well as scrap wood, metals and vinyl.

Plants producing vinyl products recycle 95% or more of their scraps and scrap glass is ground up and incorporated into reflective paints for highway signs and stripes, as well as used in sandpaper.

When it comes to raw materials, many of the company’s windows utilize vinyl manufactured from 10% pre-consumer recycled material, as well as glass that’s made from 2% pre-consumer recycled material and aluminum that’s 50% remelted, post-industrial scrap and 25% post-consumer scrap. This is one company that aims to put the trash man out of business.

Special Mention

SPH Global: Enviro-Shield

It isn’t very often that [DWM]’s editors come across a product that’s fully (100%) recyclable—much less one that can be recycled on the spot. SPH Global’s new Enviro-Shield product is a liquid-applied, protective coating that peels off and can be melted down and reapplied on-site or in a factory. In a hands-on demonstration, [DWM]’s editors watched as leftover scraps were placed into a heated system, then immediately reapplied.

According to company information, Enviro-Shield is a water-based solution that does not harm the environment. Company officials say they’re in the process of developing a recycling center in Baltimore, at which it will receive, recycle and reship the protectant.

“As long as the product is still clean and … doesn’t have an excess of dirt, it can be put right back into the system. If the product is peeled at a site or is too dirty, you can send it back to us and we have a cleaning and recycling facility that will recycle the product,” says Sofia Bower, director of operations.


Sierra Pacific Industries

or its longstanding focus on sustainable forestry and reducing environmental impacts

As a third-generation, family-owned company and participant in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program, it should come as no surprise to find Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) on [DWM]’s list. With nearly a dozen land holdings in California and four in Washington, the company owns and sustainably manages over two million acres. Meanwhile, on its website, the company lists more than two dozen reports and scientific reviews that it uses to inform its resource management practices.

According to company information, SPI has 79 Registered Professional Foresters on its roster in California and 15 in Washington, as well as 18 professionals from other natural resource disciplines. The company’s biologists work with foresters, ensuring suitable habitats for nearly 250 wildlife species, it reports. According to company officials, “Over 2,300 sites with rare plants have been located on SPI lands that receive special attention from our botanists.”

Officials say that SPI conducted a peer-reviewed study to determine the rate of carbon sequestration through its forests. According to a calculator incorporated into the company’s website, by press time, since 1990 its forests have sequestered more than 127 million metric tons of CO2— the equivalent of removing emissions from over 23 million vehicles, the calculator suggests.

At this rate of sustainable forestry, company officials say it’s growing more trees than are being harvested. “In less than one hundred years the average size tree at harvest will be in excess of 30 inches in diameter, and we will nearly triple our current forest volume,” a company statement says. “Put succinctly, we will have more large trees on our timberlands 100 years from now than we do today and almost three times the wood volume.”

In September, local news sources reported that the company was installing more than 30,000 photovoltaic panels into its plants and offices in Red Bluff, Calif., making them energy neutral. The project is expected to be completed by the start of December.

It’s Never too Late (or too Early)

Research for [DWM]’s Annual Green Awards lasts throughout the year. From spotting new products at trade shows and monitoring industry databases for performance ratings to reviewing environmental impact studies and annual reports—our editors keep a rolling file that they’re constantly evaluating. We also invite your nominations and suggestions.

Whether it’s reuse of materials, more energy efficient products, best corporate practices—or just about any facet of “green”—we want to hear about your accomplishments.

Email: with your suggestions.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

DWM Magazine

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