Link in with Lisa

Out with the Old, In with the New - It’s Time to Retrofit

11:06:36 AM on 02/22/2010



Growth, technology, governmental regulations, the need to modernize your building’s look. Any one of these may prompt you to modify your facility. A few years ago, the common solution may have been to tear down the existing structure and replace it with a new one. However, as we continue to face challenging conditions for the new construction market and move toward sustainable building, the better solution might be to renovate. And while renovation can include a number of things, I’m going to talk specifically about replacing, or retrofitting, windows. This process of retrofitting windows can improve energy performance, increase occupant comfort and can even change the appearance of a building for a fraction of the cost it would take to build a new structure.


Building Performance

For better building performance, replace the opening with a high-performance window. High-performance windows are better insulated as well as more airtight and watertight. Better insulation increases thermal performance, giving windows a low U-factor. All of these features reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling, which results in lower utility bills. Many technological advances have been made to significantly enhance the thermal performance of windows, including improved framing materials, low-emissivity and solar control coatings, low-conductance gas fills, improved thermal breaks and edge spacers, and better edge sealing techniques. Windows can enhance the thermal performance by minimizing heat loss in heating-dominated climates and by minimizing solar heat gain in cooling-dominated climates.


Occupant Comfort

Comfort and satisfaction can be measured in many ways including lighting, acoustics, ventilation, temperature and humidity. To increase occupant comfort, replace fixed openings with operable vents. Adding operable vents gives the occupant control of ventilation. You can also include motorized actuators into your design and incorporate them into the HVAC system. Heating and cooling systems that ensure adequate ventilation and proper filtration can have a dramatic and positive impact on indoor air quality.



It ’s important that you keep your building up to code. Check codes periodically because they may have changed since your building was erected. Depending on your region, these can include water, thermal, or hurricane resistance. Replacing windows with hurricane or blast resistant windows may help you keep your building up to code. Also, the performance standards on window products are ever increasing, so it may be beneficial to replace your window with one that offers high-performance.



If you want to change the look of your building, the sky is the limit. Something as simple as changing the type of window can dramatically change the appearance of a building. For example, you can replace projected windows with hung windows. Or you can add a window with applied or muntin grids. You can even change the size of the grids, going from small lites of glass to large lites of glass.

Changing a building’s windows provides an opportunity to improve the building without the huge investment of constructing a whole new building. By carefully selecting your windows, you can provide energy efficiency, a contact with nature, time orientation, and ventilation. These are just a few ideas I wanted to share about the value of retrofitting with windows.

Let me know if you have other suggestions- I’d love to hear them!


Lisa Szematowicz


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