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WINDOWS & DOORS
In this article series we discuss the certifications and standards for the performance of windows.
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In this article series we discuss the selection and installation of windows and doors, following best construction and design practices for building lighting and ventilation, with attention to the impact on building heating and cooling costs, indoor air quality, and comfort of occupants. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
Photo at left: Florida requires hurricane and wind-resistant windows in some areas.
It is always best to choose windows with third-party certification from American Association for Window Manufacturers (AAMA) or the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA, formerly the National Wood Window and Door Association, NWWDA).
Both the AAMA and WDMA are trade associations representing manufacturers of windows, doors, and skylights. The WDMA is limited to wood windows and doors, while the AAMA encompasses a wide range of materials, from wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass to the newest composites.
In 1997, the two groups joined forces to establish a unified standard for evaluating fenestration products, known as AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S. 2-97 “Voluntary Specification for Aluminum, Vinyl and Wood Windows and Glass Doors.” It establishes four performance requirements for a completed window or door.
Products that are certified under 101/I.S. 2-97 are designated by a four-part code that denotes the type of window, the performance class, and performance grade. For example, the code C-R15 indicates a casement window (C) recommended for residential applications (R), with a performance grade of 15.
How well a window performs when subjected to heavy rains and high winds is indicated by its performance grade and design pressure. The design pressure is a structural rating only, while the performance grade also indicates that a window has met the water resistance and air infiltration standards for that grade (see Table 3-2 below).
[Click to enlarge any image, photo or table]
The minimum recommended design pressure for residential doors and windows is 15 psf. A design pressure of 15 means a window has been tested to withstand sustained wind pressures of 22.5 psf, roughly equivalent to a 95-mph wind, applied to either side of the window, simulating both positive and negative wind pressures.
The test pressure is always 150% of the rated design pressure to provide a safety factor. To earn a performance grade of 15, a window must also pass a water pressure test of 2.86 psf, which simulates rainfall of 8 inches per hour with a wind speed of 34 mph. In coastal areas or other areas prone to heavy winds or hurricanes, higher grade windows are recommended and may be required by code.
American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) www.aamanet.org
Efficient Windows Collaborative www.efficientwindows.org
National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) www.nfrc.org Sustainable by Design www.susdesign.com
Shareware calculators for sun angles, solar heat gain, and shading
Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) www.wdma.com
-- Adapted and paraphrased, edited, and supplemented, with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
Also see WINDOW EFFICIENCY Features & Ratings.
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