New Ways to Find High-Performance Windows

Two new companies can help builders choose or order the right windows for Passivhaus and other high-performance projects

Builders and designers looking for high-performance windows now have two more options: a New York-based distributor specializing in European windows suitable for PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. buildings and an online evaluation service that makes window recommendations for specific building designs.

The window company is Prossimo. Its co-founder is Ben Freed, who with no prior experience acted as his own general contractor and built a net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. home for about $170,000 after being told it couldn't be done.

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