Lots of Windows!

dsc_0016We wanted lots of windows.  Our architect’s first designs were all good, but we were drawn to what we chose due in large part to the amount of windows in the space.  We love the outdoors and love bringing in tons of natural light into our space.  We ended up with a dilemma, though:  how do you have that many windows (our house is 30% windows!), but keep your house as green as possible.  The answer is found in the two key energy ratings of windows (with a really good longer explanation here):

  • U-Factor – measures the rate of heat transfer through the window.  The lower the U-Factor the the lower the amount of heat loss.
  • SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) – measures how well the window blocks heat from the sun.

dsc_0036Because we have so many windows, our U-Factor and SHGC ratings had to be very good.  We struggled with our windows and searched high and low until we found what we were looking for.  We used a company called Thermal Windows in Dallas to provide our windows.  But we had to opt for triple-paned windows in the front window tower and in one large window in the studio that faces southwest.  The triple-paned front windows facing northeast were designed to focus on the U-Factor rating, which the triple-paged windows in the studio were used to deal with what the SHGC measures.  The windows were expensive just because there’s a lot of windows!  But to upgrade to the triple-paned only cost about $2500 more. 

Our first LEED inspection occurred about 2 weeks ago, and the inspector was impressed with the window ratings…and so were we.  However, there was one small, unexpected glitch:  two of the sets of windows were installed backwards.  Apparently there’s a specific side of the windows that must face outward in order to take full advantage of the window’s designed efficiency.  We’ll be getting those reinstalled before the final inspection!