Senior Technical Services Representative and Technical Service Manager
Quanex Building Products
March 7th, 2022
More Manufacturing Considerations for A New Era of Energy Star
You may have heard that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released they S second draft of the Energtar Version 7.0 specification in late February for windows and doors. Little has changed from the initial draft we saw last year, as it maintains the same prescriptive window criteria proposed in Draft 1 of Version 7.0. As [DWM] editor Drew Vass puts it, “If all goes as planned, manufacturers will need to be prepared for rollout in July 2023.”
And that’s a big deal. Modeling indicates that most manufacturers will need to go through a significant redesign to continue using the Energy Star label on their products. So, where do we go from here? That brings us to today’s tip:
Start Planning for Your Energy Star Windows Today.
If you’re intent on keeping one or more of your product lines Energy Star certified beyond 2023, it’s time to start exploring your options on how to do so.
As we wrote when the initial draft hit, the most likely available technologies able to meet the requirements include standard triple-paned insulated glass (IG) and argon, thin-glass triples and krypton, or hybrid vacuum insulating glass (VIG). That last option remains economically nonviable in most situations—the price of VIG is such right now that your customers may not bite on a price that would allow you to profit on such a design. Eventually, VIG will become a more cost-effective choice—but likely not in time for Energy Star 7.0.
That leaves us with triples, which require special considerations when manufacturing windows that incorporate them. It’s more than just the IG itself—your entire window design will need to compensate for the extra space and weight a triple IG demands. Many of the more common and traditional American framing systems in the marketplace right now are designed for double-paned IG. Pursuing Energy Star 7.0 certification will involve rethinking your frame technology and seeking options that are compatible with triples.
Within the realm of vinyl, which remains the most popular option for U.S. homeowners, there are options. A basic vinyl framing system combined with a high-performing triple IG unit may get you to the required performance criteria, but it’s possible you may need to incorporate additional elements to hit the new targets. Foam filling could help bridge the gap—but that’s an extra step in your manufacturing process that may add some unnecessary complexity.
Instead, choosing a higher-performing vinyl system designed for elevated thermal performance can bridge the gap. Off-the-shelf options that come pre-foam-filled, or with cavities small enough to rule out the need for foam at all, may be able to help you achieve the necessary performance targets in a simpler manner. Premium vinyl technologies will of course come at a relatively higher upfront cost, but given that your new Energy Star series will be your own premium product, you’ll likely achieve a good return on investment.
These are the conversations you should be having with your technology suppliers today. In the coming months, we’ll be discussing some more specific considerations you should be making when developing new product lines to meet ever-changing performance criteria. Because it’s not just Energy Star—building codes and other standards are only going to become more stringent. We’re looking forward to working with our customers to meet and exceed those demands into the future.