Energy Efficiency in Window Systems

WatGreen Report: Winter 2000

ERS 285

Professor: Susan Wismer

TA: Anita Walker















Report Submission Date: April 3, 2000

Report Submitted by: Jennifer Holdner

Holly Thomson

Jessica Fisher

Laura Kaulback

Corry Neil

Justin Patterson

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 3

Research Question 3

New Residence Background 4

Evaluation of Current Situation 4

Systems Analysis 5

Methodology 6

Survey Results 8

Procedure for Analysis 13

Window Options 13

Recommendations 16

Cost Analysis of Recommendations 18

Research Limitations 20

Report Summary 22

Work Consulted 24

Appendix A

Appendix B

ERS 285 Final Report: Windows in Residence

Executive Summary

Improving the sustainability of the university campus is the ultimate goal of WATgreen, and this year the focus is on green buildings as there are two proposed buildings being constructed on campus within the next two years. The two buildings will be a new residence and a new architecture building. We focused on the windows within the residence building to provide recommendations for energy efficient and cost-effective windows (see glossary for definitions of terms). Green buildings are important to the sustainability of the university because they impact the environment less than traditionally constructed buildings, while reducing costs, and providing a healthier environment both mentally and physically for staff and students. More specifically, windows are an important consideration to green building design because they are a link between the interior of a building and its exterior. In our project we conducted qualitative research to recommend sustainable windows, conducted a qualitative survey to obtain resident opinions on the current residence windows, and finally made recommendations regarding which type and window model is a feasible option for the university to implement. We have proposed a standardized window system, and have included a second option of an integrated window system approach. However, a true integrated window system approach requires a window by window performance evaluation on such factors as solar heat gain, UV radiation, visible light transmission that is too labour intensive for the purposes of this report. In the following report we will provide information that can be used by WATgreen and the university for future use in building designs. Research methods and procedures will be carried out in conjunction with Ted Palys’ Research Decisions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives (1997).

Research Question

What is the most sustainable window that is feasible for the University of Waterloo to implement in future campus residences with regard to three main criteria: cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency and safety?

Hypothesis: We believe that by using an integrative window system and analysing components of a window (glazings, frames, landscaping, orientation, window type, etc.) that we can recommend a sustainable window for the current and future residences that will meet the above criteria.

Palys (1997) states that a good researchable question is specific limited in scope and related to some empirical reality. The question or problem should provide a clear understanding of what the objectives are of the research project without asking to make valued judgement. According to Palys, research falls into four categories of objectives: Explanatory, Descriptive, Relational, and Exploratory (1997). Based on these criteria our objectives are relational, or relate the different window variables to recommend the most sustainable window.

A hypothesis is a testable (researchable) statement "about the state of affairs in the world that is opened to the empirical tests" (Palys, 1997). This usually follows the problem statement (Palys, 1997).

New Residence Background

David Churchill, Dan Parent, and Chris Harold have provided us with information and insight into the plans for the new residence. Chris Harold is the student representative on the committee discussing the new building, Dan Parent is the architect, and David Churchill works for Plant Operations.

The new building is set to begin construction at the end of April or the beginning of May of this year (Chris Harold, January 28, 2000). It will house 320 students and be 144 700 square feet, located in the parking lot F between Ron Eydt Village and Village One (Chris Harold, January 28, 2000). Thus far there is no contractor, but one is to be set by April 11 (Chris Harold, March 3, 2000).

The budget for the building was approved by the Board of Governors on February 2 and is $15.6 million. The specific budget for "glass and glazings" is $400 000 (Chris Harold, March 3, 2000).

Evaluation of Current Situation

There is an obvious need for improved energy efficiency for residence windows. There is potential for much gain for the university by improving the energy efficiency of windows. The university will save money because of lower energy bills and the campus will be more sustainable.

Our vision of a sustainable campus would ultimately be a campus that is self-sufficient and one that can survive with minimal imports and generates minimal waste. There are many steps the university can take in achieving this goal. Examples include using renewable energy, using cyclical water systems, decreasing campus transportation, and stopping campus sprawl. Improving the energy efficiency of windows is another small step the University of Waterloo can take toward achieving a sustainable campus.

Systems Analysis

The diagram located in Appendix B consists of the window system within the appropriate scope of this project. The system consists of the inputs and outputs of the windows. Inputs have been divided into subsystems including, the actors, the instalment, and the function of the windows.

The stakeholders in the system vary in degree of involvement. Some are indirectly related to the system such as the government bodies, (shadow actors) who provide regulations and standards for the windows but are not involved with the windows. Then the windows are designed by the architects and designers. If the designs are approved by the university or other governing bodies, funding may be provided by corporations, governments or university funds. Direct actors, or core actors, in the system include the window manufacturers, transports, contractors and labourers who build and install the windows in the residence.

Once the actors have been identified, the systems accounts for the inputs needed in the actual instalment of windows. These consist mainly of the materials needed to build and install windows such as glass, argon gas, caulking, frames, glazing, and shipping/maintenance of the windows.

Once the windows are installed, the functions of the windows are depicted as a system in itself. Here, the diagram is divided into two; one half showing how a high efficiency hard coat (low ‘e’) argon double glazed window function compared to a soft coat (low E2 ). The diagram demonstrates how high efficiency windows work to reduce heat loss in cool seasons, and prevents heat from entering during warm seasons much more effectively than the standard window. The diagram also demonstrates the difference in solar radiation coming through the different windows.

The outputs of this system are similar for both types of windows. The manufacturing and transport process results in material waste, atmospheric pollution caused from transportation, and other indirect activities. See Appendix B for window systems diagram.


The principal research method used was a deductive approach. Palys (1997) states that deductive research is an idea or theory and observes or researches the phenomenon (window) to see whether it fits with the theory. In this case our group hypothesized that improving energy efficiency through better windows would improve the sustainability of the residences and university as a whole. We then deduced, from our research, that our hypothesis was correct, that by improving the glazings, frames, and types of windows that energy efficiency and safety could be improved, while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Research Tools

Palys (1997) outlines four epistemologies or ‘ways of knowing’; Authority, Intuition, Logic, and Observation. The group’s primary research tools were authoritative and from observations. That is, most of our information came from authoritative sources, experts, and University personnel, Internet, organizations (REEP) and from our survey observations. These epistemologies have been used with triangulation; using personal contacts, the Internet and literature, and a survey as our three main sources of information, to produce reliable, valid data. Palys (1997) states that reliable data, such as ours, is consistent over time. Therefore if our data is reliable, it is thus valid. In both Village One and Village Two, 50 surveys were completed, for a total of 100 surveys. Approximately seven interviews were also done and are cited periodically throughout the report. Interviews were mostly informal and our questions are therefore not included in the report. Group members visited with window consultants at various window distributors within the region and gained useful information through personal communication, demonstrations of window technology and literature. A final research tool that the group used was the Internet and library sources such as brochures and pamphlets on window efficiencies.

1) Survey Methodology

It is important to understand the window system that already exists on campus in order to make recommendations regarding what type of windows are to be implemented in future residences. Villages One and Two were used as models because they resemble most closely the type of residence that will be built beginning in spring 2000 (Walker, 2000). In Research Decisions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives, Ted Palys states that reliability is, "the degree to which repeated observation of a phenomenon…yields similar results" (Palys, 1997). The survey we conducted is reliable because it can be repeated. The group used a random sampling process to determine survey participants. Students were randomly approached in the cafeterias of Village One and Village Two and asked to complete surveys. The group ensured that exactly 50 students from each Village completed the survey. According to Palys, random sampling is probabilistic sampling in which chance governs the selection process and every sampling element has equal probability of being selected (1997). In this case, sampling did not rely upon gender, age or any other characteristics therefore it was proper random sampling.

2) Methodology for Technical Data Gathering

Along with the student survey which was needed to gather data on student attitudes toward current window system quality, we examined in detail the technologies that could be applied to campus window systems with regard to energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and which would address our concern of sustainability. Therefore we applied the archival method for data gathering and analysis. The archival method is a strategy of gathering data on a subject by reading and evaluating information on record or on ‘hard copy’, and using this accumulated knowledge to determine the wisest solution to our research problem. (Palys, 1997) The types of sources used in this report include governmental information booklets, technology reviews on industrial and independent websites, as well as various promotional flyers from various companies describing product performance. These sources have the potential for bias in their context of production, therefore we decided to collect data from a multitude of stakeholders in window technology, and looked for informative consistency to ensure validity. (Palys, 1997) When we decided that sufficient numbers of sources were attained to proceed with analysis, we began to define, categorize, and evaluate each technology regarding how it related to our research criteria ‘energy efficiency’, ‘safety’, and ‘cost’. This process of examining various sources led to preliminary induction (Palys, 1997).

Although the archival research was very informative in gaining familiarity with window and window related technology, we did not feel secure in our knowledge of the practical applicability of all the technologies, and therefore sought expert advice. To do this, several local distributors of window products were visited as advisors in informal interviews. An informal approach was used to allow for flexibility in the questioning that is not always possible in a ‘scripted’ interview. These distributors were asked about performance, cost and personal preferences in each technology considered. (Palys, 1997)

Archival and interview data was subjected to between-case comparisons to reveal any consistency in the data that could provide solid and relevant conclusions for satisfying research criteria. (Palys, 1997) Once satisfied with data consistency, the process of making recommendations on window-system technology was possible.

Through the use of surveys, archival research and informal interviews, the group was able to rely upon the method of triangulation to ensure that "good", or effective research was conducted.

Survey Results

The survey was conducted on Monday, March 6, 2000 between 4:30pm and 6:00pm. In both Village One and Village Two, 50 surveys were completed, therefore in total, 100 surveys were completed and collected. Prior to conducting the survey, the group received Ethics Clearance from Dr. Susan Sykes at the Office of Research Ethics on campus. Permission to conduct the survey was also requested from Residence Life Co-ordinators in both Village One and Village Two before surveys were distributed. The goal of conducting the survey was to gain useful information on resident opinions and behaviour regarding windows. In general, survey participants were helpful and courteous, and their responses proved to be a valuable asset to the group. Many answers are similar between the two residences, while others show great differences. Any problems the group encountered are discussed in the Research Limitations section.

The first survey question asked students to describe the average temperature within their rooms during the wintertime. Of the 50 students who participated in the Village One (V1) section of the survey, 12% (6 students) thought that their rooms were too hot, 48% (24 students) answered that their room temperature was just right, 6% (3 students) felt that rooms were too cold, and another 34% (17 students) felt that the temperature within their rooms was variable. In Village Two (V2) however, results showed greater variation than in V1. 40% (20 students) of students answered that their rooms were too hot in the wintertime, while 16% (8 students) of the students felt that temperature was just right, 40% (20 students) of the students felt that the temperature was variable, and only 4% (2 students) of the students found their rooms were too cold. The group concluded that central heating might account for overheated rooms in Village Two.

Village 1: Village 2:


The second survey question asked participants to specify whether they felt their window is too big, just right, or too small. Of the 50 survey participants in V1, 0% of the participants felt their window was too big, 24% (12 students) of the students felt their window was just right, and a majority of 76% (38 students) of the students felt their window was too small. The windows in Village One are very tall and narrow. It is obvious that residents in V1 would much prefer a larger and wider, more traditional window. Of the 50 V2 survey participants, only 4% (2 students) of the students thought that windows were too big, 8% (4 students) of the students felt that windows were too small, and a large majority of 88% (44 students) answered that window size was just right. Village Two residents are, for the most part, satisfied with their windows that span the width of the room’s outer wall.

Village 1: Village 2:

Survey participants were also asked to answer whether or not they liked the location of their windows. In Village One, windows are located near the corner of the room, and don’t allow students a large field of vision, as they are surrounded by brick on all sides. Village Two windows, as previously mentioned, are vast and constitute the entire outer wall of the rooms. In V1, results were virtually split in half, with 48% (24 students) answering that yes, they like the location of their window with 52% (26 students) answering no. In V2, 92% (46 students) answered that yes, they like the location of their window, while only 8% (4 students) do not. Again, the group concluded that the more spacious traditional windows in V2 are more appealing to students.

Village 1: Village 2:

Survey participants were also asked to comment on whether their window is somewhat drafty, fairly airtight, or very airtight. In V1, 30% (15 students) of students found their window to be somewhat drafty, 58% (29 students) of students answered that their window is fairly airtight, and only 12% (6 students) of students thought their window is very airtight. In contrast, in V2, 64% (32 students) said that their window is somewhat drafty, while 32% (16 students) felt their windows are fairly airtight, and only 4% (2 students) answered that their windows are very airtight. The results for this question strongly suggested to us that although the large, wide windows in Village Two seem to be desired by students in both Villages, they are actually less energy efficient than the tall and narrow windows used in Village One. Over half of respondents living in V2 found that windows were drafty, which suggests to the group that cold air is seeping in through cracks somewhere in the window structure, and heat is subsequently being lost through those same cracks.

Village 1: Village 2:

In focusing on behaviour patterns of residents, we felt it was important to include a question asking students how many times they have opened their residence room windows since second term began in January. In V1, results revealed that only 2% (1 student) have not opened their window this term, only 4% (2 students) have opened it between one and three times, 24% (12 students) have opened it between four and ten times, and 70% (35 students) have opened their windows more than ten times this term. In V2, results were similar with 0% of participants answering that they have never opened their window, 2% (1 student) answering between one and three times, 8% (4 students) answering between four and ten times, and an unbelievable 90% (45 students) answering more than ten times. The group was alarmed but not entirely surprised by the results for this question. The results led the group to a rather startling analysis, however, based upon the dynamics of the central heating system within V2. Upon opening their windows to allow heat to escape, residents are creating a positive feedback loop because cold air is entering the room and signalling the automatic heating system to produce more heat to heat the room. The residence central heater then uses more energy to heat the room back to its original temperature that residents obviously find to be too hot, and residents open their windows again. The group is concerned that a great deal of energy is being lost in this unnecessary process, and it is apparent that both central heating dynamics and resident behavioural changes are necessary to control this process and conserve energy in Village Two. Similar implications are apparent when examining the results for V1. See Limitations of Conducting the Survey section for further analysis of the role of heating systems in energy loss.

Village 1: Village 2:


Finally, residents were asked to comment on whether or not they are concerned with energy efficiency within the residences. In V1, 42% (21 students) answered that they are concerned with energy efficiency, 14% (7 students) answered maybe, and 44% (22 students) revealed that, no, they are not concerned with energy efficiency in the residence. In V2, 30% (15 students) answered yes, 24% (12 students) answered maybe, and 46% (23 students) answered that they are not concerned with energy efficiency. The reason for including this question in the survey was to make residents consider the implications of their opinions and behaviour in regard to energy efficiency.

Village 1: Village 2:


The final survey question asked residents to leave any comments that had regarding their current residence window or any suggestions about windows in future residences. Approximately one half, or 55 students who completed a survey filled out the comment section. Some students mentioned security concerns such as the importance of strong locks or the possibility of privacy glazing on windows. Most residents in Village Two commented that windows make a great deal of noise when it is windy outside. Others mentioned the cold air seeping through their current windows and suggested that their windows be replaced with more airtight windows. A selected few students discussed the view outside their window and suggested that landscaping should be a consideration when installing and positioning windows in residence. Finally, a concern amongst survey participants who left comments is the ability to open and close windows with ease, and with as little noise as possible.



Procedures for Analysis

We have designed an integrated window system that the university may use in the designs of future buildings. In our integrated window system, the specifications for the windows were considered according to window orientation. We divided our recommendations along north, east, south, and west because each orientation possesses different advantages and disadvantages with respect to energy efficiency. For example, windows facing south can allow more solar heat gains in the winter when the sun is at a lower elevation (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 16). In the summer months, little solar gains are achieved through south-facing windows because the sun’s elevation is higher (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 16). It is generally considered better to have more south-facing windows because they gain more solar energy than they lose (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 19). In contrast, north-facing windows tend to lose more energy (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 19). During the winter, east- and west-facing windows don’t have much effect on energy gains or losses, but in the summer, west-facing windows pose a problem of allowing too much solar energy in (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 19). Balancing the gains and losses due to orientation of windows can improve the energy efficiency of an entire building. A diagram is included in Appendix B.

In addition to energy efficiency safety was also considered in the group’s integrated window system. We believe the first floor of a residential building is more susceptible to this issue and we examined several ways of solving them.

Window Options

There are many types of windows and many different window parts that will have an effect on a window’s energy performance and therefore need to be considered. The following describes these specifications and discusses their importance to window performance and their positive and negative attributes.

Window Type

Windows are either fixed or operable which means they can either be unable to open or able to open (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 9). There are several types of operable windows including casement, awning, turn-and-tilt, hopper, horizontal slider, and vertical slider (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 9). Fixed windows are more efficient because of their airtightness, but operable units are necessary for emergency exits. Different operable window types have the potential to be better than others in terms of energy efficiency depending on the amount of heat loss due to air leaks do. This also depends on the type of weather-stripping on windows. Casement, awning, hopper, and turn-and-tilt are best because they have closure/locking mechanisms which enhance the seal making the window more airtight (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 10).


Proper weather-stripping can protect against heat losses and are therefore an important consideration. Airtightness depends on weather-stripping. There are two types of weather-stripping—compression seals and sliding seals (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 10). Windows with compression seals are more airtight and more durable than sliding seals (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 15).


There are several different kinds of frames, all of which have different qualities that can help reduce heat loss by conduction and air leaks. This loss of heat is the main problem caused by frames.

Aluminium frames are durable and need little maintenance (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 13). Because aluminium is a metal, however, it is more conductive than other frame materials. Thermal breaks are incorporated into the frame to reduce heat loss by conduction (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 13). Air leaks are minimal with aluminium frames because of their sturdiness and resilience to warping.

Fibreglass frames are also durable and require little maintenance (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 13). They do not lose much heat by conduction or by air leaks and hollow areas of the frame can be filled with insulation (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 13). Filling hollow areas with insulation doubles the insulation level of the window frame (Association of Environment Conscious Building).

Vinyl frames have good energy performance and are strong and easy to maintain. For large windows, vinyl frames need to be reinforced however, and reinforcing materials can increase heat loss by conduction (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 14). Like fibreglass frames, hollow sections can be filled with insulation (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 14). The most unique and beneficial feature of vinyl frames is that corners can be welded to prevent air and water leakage (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 14).

Wood frames can reduce conductive heat loss, but they require a lot of maintenance and protection from weathering (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 14). Without proper protection from weathering, wood will warp which will cause air leaks in the frame. Cladding and finishes can protect wood from weathering, however cladding materials are heat-conductive (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 14).

Another consideration about window frames is the area of frame and sash. Reducing these areas will increase window performance (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 33) by decreasing areas where heat losses can occur while at the same time increasing glazing areas where solar gains can improve (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 17).

Glass and Glazing

There are many aspects of glass in windows including glazings, gas fills, and coatings. The specific kind of glass is important to a window’s energy performance because heat can be lost through radiation and convection, and energy can be captured through solar gains.

Radiation losses amount for approximately two thirds of the total heat lost through a window and these losses can be reduced by applying a low emissivity coating to the glass (low ‘e’) (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 18). Low ‘e’ glass can reduce solar gains (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 17).

The glazings of a window refer to the amount of panes. For example, single-glazing means single paned glass. Convection losses can occur between glazing of multiglazed windows (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 18). The best spacing between glazings is 12 to 16 mm (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 18). Multiple glazings can also reduce solar gains. A double-glazed window reduces solar gain by 10 percent and a triple-glazed window reduces solar gain by 20 percent (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 17). Inserting different gases between glazing layers can reduce convection losses. Instead of using air or carbon dioxide, inert gases such as argon and krypton can be used that will reduce convection losses (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 18).


Spacers represent a small but important part of a window. A spacer keeps a uniform separation between glazing layers (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 12). Spacers have traditionally been made of metal (such as aluminium) which conducts energy, and therefore it is better to use a non-metallic spacer to decrease conductive heat loss (Office of Energy Efficiency, 1998, 12).


The proposed window system offered by the designers of the new UW residence takes into account energy efficient design, such as the use of low ‘e’, argon filled windows with a double a glaze, and an aluminium frame.

The base window recommended is a double pane argon filled (approximately $24/unit) (Bavarian Windows, 2000). Glazings, frames, etc. are additional to this cost. The group has proposed two options for the group’s recommendations for the window plans of the William Lyon Mackenzie King Village, as well as any future residences with regard to three main criteria: energy efficiency, safety and cost-effectiveness. Approach 1 is the standardized window system. Approach 2 is the integrated window system. Approach 1 recommends uniform glazings on all windows while approach 2 recommends different glazings for windows depending on their orientation.

Glazing Recommendations

North Facing Windows:

Coatings are useful for insulating. (Bavarian Windows, 2000) The north side is much more susceptible to cold in the winter when insulating is critical to reduce heat loss. Despite the lack of direct solar light on the northern windows, option two suggests using a hard coat (low ‘e’) glaze. Hard coats are pyrolytic, that is, introduced into the glass as it is manufactured. Hard coat glazing have a high solar heat gain coefficient of 72% (Cardinal, 1999). This suggests that it will allow more heat to enter a room. This may be very beneficial in reducing heating costs in the winter. Ideally, a hard coat glazing is used best in conjunction with good landscaping. If the north side windows have large deciduous trees that will allow heat from the sun to enter the room in the winter but provide shade in the summer, this will reduce heating costs greatly and be much more energy efficient. As well, hard coats have UV rating of 47%, which means and allows for 75% of natural light to enter (Cardinal, 1999). UV may be responsible for bleaching carpets, and paints. Hard coat (low ‘e’) sells for approximately 2$ per square foot (additive to the base double pane, argon filled window (24$) (Bavarian Windows, 2000).

Approach 1: If good landscaping is not available, or a hard coat is not ideal, then we recommend using a soft coat (low e2,) glazing which has a much lower solar heat gain coefficient 42%, and low UV of 16%, while maintaining a high natural light coefficient 72% (Cardinal, 1999). The high performance of a soft coat is reflected in its ability to keep rooms cool, by reducing the solar heat gain by almost half, compared to a hard coat, and by reducing the UV radiation by almost a third of that of a hard coat

South Facing Windows:

For windows facing south too much light is a problem, and can result in the extra demand of air conditioning during the warmer seasons. This increases the demand for electricity and money to pay for electricity. Therefore the use of a soft coat is optimal in reducing these demands. This would be the choice for both approaches one and two.

Eastern Facing Windows:

Eastern facing windows would not require a double-glaze according to approach two. Solar light is only direct on the east facing windows for a short period of time in the morning. Typically, the early mornings of all seasons are generally cooler than mid-day when the sun is at its most intense. Therefore there are a reduced number of coatings required for Eastern facing windows. Our recommendation is a hard coat to reduce material costs, while at the same time ensuring adequate protection. However in approach one, a soft coat would be used.

Western Facing Windows:

Like south facing windows, those facing west are subject to large amounts of solar energy. Unlike eastern windows, western windows receive direct light later in the day when the heat absorbed by the local environment in significantly higher. Therefore the use of a soft coat in both approaches is very effective in filtering light which therefore contributes to the reduction of the over-heating these rooms.

Standardized Frame Recommendations

Another important consideration is the type of frames that the windows incorporate. A recommendation that our group believes is quite important is the avoidance of aluminium frames. Aluminium, as with other metals, conducts heat quite well and will conduct heat out of the residence rooms during cold weather and conduct heat into rooms during warm weather. Instead we recommend the use of vinyl frames, which are non-metallic and therefore significantly less conductive of temperature. The use of aluminium frames may negate the decrease in heat conduction provided by the other window options. Vinyl frames are binded to the glass and reduce the amount of heat loss. Both aluminium and vinyl are low maintenance and durable. Vinyl frames are also approximately the same price as aluminium frames ($2.50 - $3.00/ft2), and offer a better performance window (Bavarian Windows, 2000).

Fibreglass frames may be more energy efficient and much more expensive. However they are prone to thermal expansion and contraction. The vertical structure of the frames is good, however, due to the nature of fibreglass, the horizontal position is weaker, and susceptible to cracking (Ventral Lux, 2000).

Window Design

Safety is an important aspect to consider, especially in a university residence. For safety reasons we do not recommend casement windows (windows that open vertically). Although casement windows are more energy efficient they are less secure than awning or sliders and may be more dangerous in terms of falling accidents. Instead the group provides the option of recommending either awning or sliders.

Casement windows ($210/window), however, are much more energy efficient and provide 100% ventilation. (Ventral Lux, 2000). As our survey shows, students enjoy opening their windows, even in the winter. Having 100% ventilation may increase heating cost. Awnings and sliders on the other hand, only provide 50% and 25% ventilation respectively, which would allow students to get the fresh air they need without the heating cost associated with having casement windows (Ventral Lux, 2000).

Awnings are more energy efficient than sliders and are more effective in keeping water away from the windowsills when it rains, thus reducing damage costs. However, awnings are slightly more expensive ($210/window) than sliders ($180/window), which are not very energy efficient and allow more heat loss (Galt Glass, 2000).

Cost-Analysis of Recommendations

Within our research criteria we have decided that cost plays a major role in the quest for sustainability. The problem in deciding cost-effectiveness is trying to balance the cost of purchasing a technology, with that of the savings (or expenses) of operating that technology. With window-systems this is a very truthful statement. The group believes that windows alone can decide the energy and cost efficiency of a building. Windows have the potential to either be the tool for thermal transfer between indoors and outdoors, or to be the solid insulating layer that allows for aesthetics as well as energy efficiency. The role a window plays is dependant on how that window is manufactured and what properties it possesses. Because of the nature of pricing in window technology, it was difficult for this group to generalize exact costs of these recommendations, and therefore the costs will be expressed in approximations. The following presents approximate costs for this group’s recommendations of window technology options, based on prices offered buy several sources.

There are limitations when estimating total cost for window-systems in a large project such as a new residence. Costs are highly dependent on the amount of materials needed, and which distributors are contracted to supply these materials. The benefit of having a non-fixed pricing scheme is that when buying window technology the prices for options (i.e. glazing) decrease when supply needed is increased. Therefore this could mean, especially in the glazing recommendation, the cost for choosing a more efficient glazing like a Soft Coat Glazing may be significantly reduced per square foot when ordering enough to supply the window needs of a large building such as a student residence. See Works Consulted for complete list of sources that address cost.

Research Limitations

Limitations of Conducting the Survey

The first problem we encountered involved receiving Ethics Clearance for the survey questions and consent form, as well as receiving permission from Residence Life Co-ordinators for Village One and Village Two. The group had planned to conduct the survey at the end of February, but due to complications, the survey was not completed until March 6, 2000.

The first complication was that approval from the University of Waterloo had been granted to all students taking ERS 285, but Ethics Clearance had not been granted. We distributed packages containing survey questions and consent forms and cover letters to Residence Life Co-ordinators Will Pasco and Pam Charbineau, as well as to Susan Sykes for Ethics Clearance. Will Pasco was helpful in returning phone calls and advising the group on what was necessary to be granted permission for the survey, whereas Pam Charbineau made no effort to contact the group despite numerous messages left on her answering machine and two information packages left in her mailbox. Upon receiving Ethics Clearance from Susan Sykes, the group conducted the survey without speaking a third time with Will Pasco or Pam Charbineau, but did provide them with a copy of the revised and approved questions and consent form.

The group realises that any conclusion drawn from the survey results are likely vague and general. For example, the group concluded that central heating systems within the two Villages are most likely operating at a level which is too high, thus forcing students to open their windows in an attempt to stay cool. Energy is obviously being lost in this process, but due to time and scope constraints, it is impossible for the group to research and fully understand how heating systems operate, and also make recommendations on how to conserve energy by improving windows. Instead, the group noted that the likely cause of students opening windows in the wintertime is fierce heating. We are unable to comment further on additional factors that contribute to energy loss.

The only other minor problem the group encountered was a small number of residents from Villages One and Two who refused to complete the survey. The desired number of surveys was completed, however, so such students proved to be only a minor inconvenience.

Limitations of Archival Technological Research

Due to the complexity of window manufacturing, as well as time constraints, the group chose not to examine the life cycle of a window. Rather, the group’s definition of sustainability refers to use of the window after it has already been constructed, rather than the impacts involved in production.

One of the most significant problems was concerning gathering information about cost and different technologies from various window shops such as GTS Windows, Bavarian Windows, and Ventura Windows. Most salespeople were too technical and were unable to provide us with general answers to our questions. In response to questions concerning cost, most salespeople would reply with " Well, I can’t tell you unless I know…" or " It’s too complicated to …." However, despite the fact that window costs are subject to many factors (types of glazing, frames and glass, quality, buying in bulk, manufacturer, etc), Bavarian Windows of Kitchener and Galt Glass of Cambridge were able to provide estimates of prices for our windows.

Much of the information we received was also contradictory. One salesperson from Bavarian Windows of Kitchener stated that they would only use aluminium frames, while the installer stated that most commercial buildings are starting to use fibreglass frames, "Its the new wave" (Bavarian Windows, 2000).

It is important to take into consideration the intentions of our sources.

For example, the Office of Energy Efficiency (1998) reference is interested in

increasing energy efficiency and recommends insulating fibreglass frames which double the insulation level, however, a Bavarian Windows representative (2000) stated that due to the way frames are manufactured, " you never put insulation in frames, it’s just air." Though insulating frames may be possible, it may be extremely difficult and not worth it.

Another limitation the group encountered was that all the salespeople were either not available, ‘about to leave’ or had ‘ a crazy week…’ and were not available to speak to us for more than 5 to 10 minutes. The validity of these statements are questionable, though it is understandable that they would not want to waste time explaining the ABC’s of windows with students, instead of potential clients. Since they have already spoken with other students, we hope that they will be more helpful.

The final major limitation concerns window technology. Windows are very complicated and dependent on many factors ranging from seasonal fluctuations to type of glass and materials used. Therefore, it is very difficult for us to make proper recommendations for future buildings within a certain budget with limited knowledge of windows. Speaking with window salespeople made us realise that without ten years experience in the industry and a technical degree or science degree of sorts, we will never understand one tenth of the technology in windows.

A few final limitations worth mentioning include attendance problems at group meetings and printer/computer problems. These problems have been addressed by the group members.

Report Summary

We hope that University decision-makers will install windows into their buildings that will be as energy efficient as possible while maintaining a high degree of cost-effectiveness. The University planners should not limit themselves to implementing environmental steps that would be repaid within a mere five years (Green Building Materials Group, tutorial, March 8, 2000). The group feels that in order to receive payback on an investment and have that investment be worth the effort, a policy with flexible payback-times on investments is more logical. This is due to the fact that different technologies and implementations work at different rates. It is in the best interests of any organization to allow for as many options as possible in order to become an innovator, and to save money.

The recommendations of this report can indeed meet the five-year limit, due to the fact that they are within the same cost range as displayed in the Cost Analysis of Recommendations section of this report. To reiterate the recommendations of the standardized window system, we have summarised our proposals of suggested window technology:

Cost-effective, energy efficient and safe windows are a vital aspect to consider in the planning and construction of a new building. There is much potential for energy conservation through the implementation of high quality, durable and sustainable windows. It is our hope that future residence buildings will be constructed using our previously specified recommendations until more effective technologies can be implemented and made affordable to the University of Waterloo.






Works Consulted

Advanced Technologies for commercial buildings – Switchable Glazings. 1/27/00 11:41am

Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders. 3/11/00

Bavarian Windows. Personal communications. 10 March 2000.

Canada. Natural Resources Canada - Office of Energy Efficiency. Consumer’s

Guide to buying energy-efficient windows and doors. Aurora: REIC, 1998.

Canada. Natural Resources Canada – Office of Energy Efficiency. Improving

window energy efficiency. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 1998.

Cardinal Glass. Brochure, 1998.

Churchill, David. Personal communications. Email. 28 January 2000.

Cook, Patti. Personal Interview. 27 January 2000.

Environmental Building news – the leading newsletter on Environmentally

Responsible Design and Construction. 1/25/00 3:44pm

Frederick, Heather et al. ERS 285 Greening the Campus – Preliminary Proposal

and Study Design. 1 February 1999.

Galt Glass. Telephone interview. March 2000.


Green Building Materials Group-Stacy. Personal communications. 8 March, 2000.

Harold, Chris. Personal Interview. 28 January 2000, 3 March 2000.

Hometime – Windows and Doors: Window Options. 1/18/00 3:02 pm

HVAC components. 1/25/00 3:27 pm

Palys, Ted. Research Decisions – Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives. 2nd

edition. Harcourt Brace & Company, Canada: Toronto, 1997.

Parent, Dan. Personal communications. Email. 31 January 2000, 10 March 2000.

Pasco, William. Personal communications. 3 March 2000.

Personal (Randy Pickles) from Ventra Lux. Personal communications. 8 March 2000.

Sustainable Building Sourcebook – Passive Solar Guidelines. 2/1/00 9:58 am

Sustainable Building Sourcebook – Windows and Doors. 1/25/00


Sykes, Susan. Personal communications. 3, 6 March 2000.

The Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering: An Opportunity for

Change on the UW Campus. 2/1/00 9:42 am

Vnoucek, Wendy. "Residences renamed in 2000." Imprint 14 January 2000: 3.

Walker, Anita. Personal communications. February 2000.


























Appendix A


Glossary of Key Terms (as applied to residence windows)

Sustainability: windows that are low-maintenance, high quality, durable, produce minimal waste (heat loss), and do not require replacement for a minimum of _____ years. A sustainable window will therefore have very little negative environmental impact over the course of its use. Life cycle analysis will not be considered, due to time constraints. See Limitations of Research section.

Cost-effective: windows that are within or close to the University’s allotted $400 000 budget, or which will welcome a return of investment between ten and fifteen years

Energy efficient: windows that conserve energy through the use of current window technology

Information Cover Letter

March 3, 2000

To whom it may concern, (Head Dons of V1 & V2)

We are a group of ERS 285 (Greening the Campus) students currently working on a class project, under the supervision of Professor Susan Wismer, x. 5795. In conjunction with the University of Waterloo’s WATgreen program, ERS 285 investigates ways to implement environmentally sound practices on the University of Waterloo campus. In the past, projects carried out by students in ERS 285 have influenced the way in which the campus operates, and have provided new ideas to decision makers on campus.

The project we are currently working on involves examining the new residence that is to be built on campus, in regard to efficiency and sustainability of its windows. As part of our project, we feel it would be very helpful to survey 50 students from Village 1 and 50 students from Village 2, regarding the windows currently in use in the two residences. We feel that the opinions of students are a very important part of our research.

Survey participants may withdraw from the study at any time without penalty by informing the researchers that they no longer wish to participate. There are no known or anticipated risks involved in the participation of this study.

The survey should take no longer than five (5) minutes to complete. Results will be tabulated and represented graphically in our final report. No names or personal information will be gathered or used. A copy of the final report will be made available to all participants at the end of the term by accessing the WATgreen website at Survey results will be stored as part of the final report for approximately ten years. Surveys will be shredded upon completion of the final report.

This project has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the Office of Research Ethics. In the event you have any questions or concerns about this study, please contact Dr. Susan Sykes at (519) 888-4567, x. 6005.

Thank you for your time. If you require any further information regarding our project goal or final report, please contact us at the attached email addresses or contact:

Susan Wismer

Associate Professor

Department of Environment and Resource Studies

Waterloo, Ont. N2L 3G1

(519) 888-4567, x. 5795


Jessica Fisher (, Laura Kaulback (, Justin Patterson, Holly Thomson, Jen Holdner, and Cory Neil

Environment and Resource Studies 285

Winter 2000

Consent Form/ Cover Letter For ERS 285 Windows Survey

This study is being conducted by a group of second year Environment and Resource Studies students under the supervision of Professor Susan Wismer, x. 5795, in the faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo.

The project we are currently working on involves examining the new residence that is to be built on campus, in regard to efficiency and sustainability of its windows. We will be examining residents’ opinions and behaviour regarding their residence room windows. The goal of our project is to make recommendations to the University of Waterloo in regard to future window selection in residence buildings. Your opinions on this subject are very valuable and will prove to be helpful in our research.

If you decide to volunteer, you will be asked to complete a short survey requiring no more than five (5) minutes of your time. There are no known or anticipated risks involved in participating. You may not benefit personally from your participation in this study. The information obtained from this research, however, may influence decision making at the University of Waterloo, and benefit the University community and the physical environment.

You may refuse to participate at any time throughout the study by informing any of the researchers. You will not be contacted in any way for follow-up research. Names and personal information are not required and therefore will not appear in any report, publication, or presentation resulting from this study. You may leave unanswered any question you prefer not to answer. A copy of the final report will be made available to all participants at the end of the term by accessing the WATgreen website at Survey results will be stored as part of the final report for approximately ten years. Surveys will be shredded upon completion of the final report.

If you have any questions about participation in this study, please feel free to ask the researchers. If you have additional questions at a later date, please contact Susan Wismer, Associate Professor of the Department of Environment and Resource Studies, x. 5795. This project has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the Office of Research Ethics. In the event you have any questions or concerns about your participation in this study, please contact Dr. Susan Sykes at (519) 888-4567, x. 6005.

Thank you for your participation

.Jessica Fisher, Laura Kaulback, Holly Thomson, Justin Patterson, Jen Holdner, and Cory Neil.

Sample Survey Questions for ERS 285 Group Project

Please circle the correct response for each of the following questions.

  1. In the winter (i.e.; second term), do you find your room to be:
  2. 1) too hot 2) just right 3) too cold 4) varied

  3. In your opinion, is the window in your room:
  4. 1) too big 2) just right 3) too small



  5. Do you like the location of your window?
  6. 1) yes 2) no

  7. Does your window look out onto:
  8. 1) a pleasant view 2) an unpleasant view 3) neither

  9. Is your window generally:
  10. 1) somewhat drafty 2) fairly airtight 3) very airtight

    Circle one of the following for each question.

  11. How many time have you opened your window since school began in January?
  12. 0 times 1-3 times 4-10 times 10+ times

  13. Are your blinds usually:
  14. Open/closed during the day

    Open/closed at night

  15. In general, are you concerned with efficiency in the residence?

Yes No Maybe

Please leave any comments you may have regarding your current window in residence, as well as any suggestions you may have regarding windows for future residences.


Thank you very much for your time.































Appendix B