Windows traditionally make up 80 percent of a building’s exterior cladding system. However, building codes across the country are evolving towards higher and higher energy efficiency performances. In order to achieve their general energy efficiency targets, the quotas of many buildings in some locations have already dropped to 35 percent.
This should provide motivation to improve the level of performance of window products made in Canada. “It is certain that the standard window in Canada will be triple-glazed with a high-performance frame by 2032,” says Al Jaugelis, Technical Director of Fenestration Canada, the association that represents Canadian window and door manufacturers. “That means either a vinyl or fiberglass frame, or an aluminum frame with very significant thermal breaks.”
Still, Canadian manufacturers told the Daily Commercial News that it’s more complicated than it seems.
Laura Weil, vice president of sales for Euro Vinyl Windows and Doors Inc. in Vaughan, Ontario, says the majority of her company’s current window line is double-glazed. However, the company’s triple-glazed products are currently not Passive House certified.
“It is difficult to migrate to the passive house on many levels. However, if we were offered a large project, I would start investing. “Weil is jealous of the British Columbia government’s incentives to encourage West Coast manufacturers to make the necessary adjustments. This sums up the current problem in central and eastern Canada – low demand from the market coupled with the lack of government incentives.
Terry Adamson, President of Fenestration Canada, admits BC’s support has been helpful to its manufacturers. “In my opinion, this type of financing is far more effective than discounts for replacing windows that come and go. Helping manufacturers develop better products results in better products in the market and increases the overall industry and helps everyone. “
Adamson’s Chilliwack, BC-based company Westeck Windows and Doors received $ 80,000 provincial grants to help subsidize the 18 months. Adamson estimates that it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring Westeck’s passive house windows to market. Demand for high-performance windows in BC has been fueled by other provincial incentives, notably the BC Step Code.
Future versions of the National Building Code (NBC) are expected to be emulated by the provinces and provide a regulatory boost that will increase product demand on larger, mid-range projects and provide a compelling business model for more manufacturers. Meanwhile, Adamson Weil agrees. “Most contractors and designers are not interested in Passive House certified windows unless it is a high-end multi-unit or commercial building.”
Although passive windows have not been specifically identified as an NBC target, Adamson admits that many members of Fenestration Canada are unhappy with the direction the new building codes are going. “There are many manufacturers who are struggling with this and do not want any further regulations,” he says. “For many of these people, passive house is not a friendly word. It’s a challenge – more cost and more trouble. “
Before changing the code, however, municipalities like Toronto are already publicly speaking about plans to carry out major energy upgrades in many of their public buildings. More Eastern Canadian window manufacturers need to commit and invest to meet the anticipated increased domestic demand for energy efficient products.
This is something that Quebec-based NZP Fenestration has been doing proactively since 2014 by manufacturing Passive House certified windows under license from a German supplier.
Laurence Hamel Dorais, Director of Business Development and Marketing, explains that NZP combines triple glazing from Montreal suppliers with the insulated, lead-free vinyl profiles and operational hardware required for passive house frames supplied by containers from Europe. The result is competitive prices and shorter delivery times than complete window units from overseas.
Hamel Dorais believes that NZP is well positioned in the market for future energy efficiency needs. “We are currently working on some larger, multi-story buildings and are ready for the increasing demand.”
John Bleasby is a Coldwater, Ont. freelance writer. Send comments and ideas for Inside Innovation columns to [email protected].