Net Zero Windows and Doors for Passive homes and buildings in Edmonton, Alberta

I’m not sure about you but when I heard the term “Net Zero” windows, I really wasn’t sure what that meant. After looking into them, Walbert Windows wanted to provide further info on this defining feature of our windows and doors.  Why is it something you should even value?  

What are Net Zero…. Anything?

The term “Net Zero” refers to the process of balancing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are added to the atmosphere, with the amount of greenhouse gasses that can be removed from the atmosphere.  If the balance is right; there should be a “net zero” effect.  Any item, process or industry that contributes to this balancing, is working towards lowering the greenhouse gases that are emitted by their item, process or industry.  Many countries, including Canada, have committed to working towards Net Zero emissions with a goal of having it balanced around the middle of the current century.  

You may have also heard the term “Passive Homes” and these would be homes that have the same goal of reducing energy loss and consumption through the specific and engineered design of their building.

How do windows and doors contribute to Net Zero?

Windows and doors are two of the main weak points in the emissions created by your building.  When windows and doors are failing in their ability to seal out the weather and balance the inside temperatures; they create a cause and effect situation by requiring the increased consumption of power and/or fuel to assist in this process.  

Properly sealed, high efficiency and Energy Star rated windows and doors are designed to perform at a top level.  Both by preventing air and heat leaks into your space but in addition, leaks out of the building.  In Edmonton, Alberta, accomplishing this puts a high demand on these products.  Our extremes in temperatures mean that windows and doors installed in our homes and commercial spaces have to be able to work efficiently in both cold and heat.  

Glass performance in the winter

When our windows and doors are not able to create balance due to poor design, there is then extra demand on our furnaces and heating systems in order to keep our buildings warm in cooler temps. Heating systems usually use burning fossil fuels (oil, gas, propane) to create heat. The resulting exhaust, coming from our furnaces and hot water tanks, boilers etc… contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere.  Now you may be thinking “what can my little house or commercial business do to our massive atmosphere?”  It’s more how all the buildings functioning together make an effect but still; each one can make a small contribution to lowering the emissions; not to mention saving on monthly utility bills.  

A heating system in -30 celsius has to raise the temperature in your home to +20 celsius.  This is a difference of 50 degrees; not including the wind chill!  That is a huge demand.

Glass performance in the summer

In the hot temps of summer in Alberta, more and more people are turning to air conditioning to keep them comfortable indoors. Summers in Alberta are getting steadily warmer.  These higher temperatures can lead to air conditioners running at maximum.  The power consumption of these machines can be overwhelming; and not just on our monthly budgets.  The power grids often run into trouble when more consumers are relying on these cooling units to keep them comfy.  This begs the question; where does our power even come from? 

Many of us are not aware of what it takes to get power into their outlets and lights. Mostly, consumers don’t give it a second thought and only notice when it isn’t working!  But, power is not generated magically and even though you personally may not be burning anything to have that extra power flowing to that air conditioner; something somewhere is at the source of it.

Much of our Alberta power currently comes from burning coal or gas; some sources estimate as much as 89%. Like the powerplant at Genesee, Alberta, which currently burns coal which then causes a generator to turn and this generator then creates power.  Other sources provide it by burning natural gas. Many of these plants are slated to be transformed into Net Zero energy production in the near future.  However, the current process creates greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels; even though the end user does not see this. Although there are other sources of power like solar and wind; these are not yet at the place where they can completely replace the use of fossil fuels to generate enough power to sustain us.  

What qualities make a “Net Zero” window or door?

There are a lot of factors that need to come together to have a well functioning window or door in your building.  If you can imagine; a window or door is an opening into an otherwise sealed space. What makes one window or door different from another one?  

Energy Star rated Low-E Coatings

Windows and doors must be wholly separate units able to perform their job completely prior to even being installed.  Starting with the glass; there should be an Energy Star Low-E rated coating over the surface of the glass. These coatings have been developed to minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through glass but yet, do not affect your view through the glass.

Argon Gas inside double or triple glazed windows

Energy Star rated coatings are the beginning but need to be followed by completely sealed glass panels, typically 3 but sometimes 2, with the gaps filled with Argon gas.  This Argon gas between the panes of glass keeps the outside temps from affecting the inside and logically, the inside temps from touching the outside.  Argon is an insulating, heavy gas that changes temperature very slowly.  When installed correctly, it will help prevent your windows from frosting up and forming condensation in very cold weather.  It adds an insulating layer keeping the temperature inside your space from being affected by the temperature outside.  When you have doors with windows, it is also necessary for these to have argon gas between the glass panels.  Doors will also perform poorly if not properly insulated.  In Edmonton, Alberta this is especially noticeable when it is cold outside. 

As you can in the sample window sticker on the right, your windows and doors will come with many ratings on them.  This sticker must remain after installation.  (tip: Do not leave this sticker on too long as it will become increasingly difficult to remove.  Once the window has been inspected and you are cleared; it can be removed.  You can always store it in a file with your house manuals and warranty info.)  Walbert installers will ensure that these stickers are present for the consumer and inspector to see.  

There is so  much to learn and know about the Energy Star and High Efficiency ratings on windows and doors.  We have provided some links below to make it easier for you to become an informed window and door consumer in Alberta and Western Canada.  As always, make sure you are doing research on reputable government or educational websites.  Searching only consumer/marketing websites can provide bias and incomplete info.

 

SAWDAC – Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada

 

https://sawdac.com/Consumer-Info.htm

 

Sill to Sash 2014

 

Government of Canada

 

https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/products/windows-doors-and-skylights/13739

 

https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/products/windows-doors-and-skylights/13739

 

https://natural-resources.canada.ca/sites/nrcan/files/energy/pdf/energystar/Energy%20Star-WDS_e.pdf

 

Efficiency Canada

 

https://www.efficiencycanada.org/building-codes/net-zero-energy-ready-buildings-in-canada/

Canada Energy Ratings Sticker

Last but certainly not least…

The installation can be crucial in ensuring that your windows and doors can perform at a Net Zero level and create the Passive Home or building you are looking for.  This will include hiring qualified and knowledgeable contractors that specialize in window installation.  If you are building a new home; ensure that your windows and their installation is thoroughly inspected before you sign off that everything looks good.

Installations can be done poorly and as a home or business owner, you would never know until it begins malfunctioning, leaking or having other issues.  The caulking, weather stripping, foam insulation and water resistant frames all play a crucial role in making sure that your Energy Star rated, high efficiency windows and doors can properly regulate the climate in your building.   

Walbert Windows and Doors takes special care in ensuring that they install their products with the highest quality workmanship. We have selected products that meet the highest possible standards of energy efficiency. Our experienced staff only want your products performing at their best.   Contact us for a quote today!

Walbert Igloo Energy Tilt and Turn Windows