Windows offer us benefits we can’t do without, but there is no getting around the fact that they are holes in the wall, reducing overall R-value and creating opportunities for air leakage and unwanted solar heat gain. When it came to the Masdar Institute buildings, we wanted a visual connection to the outdoors that would let in daylight and that is itself pleasant to look at, both from the inside and the outside.
We wanted them to be completely airtight and provide good thermal insulation. Insects to be kept out; children and pets in, and to get solar heat gain from windows, but not too much, and we don’t want glare. Along with these key functions, we wanted the windows to be durable in every way and resistant to the elements.
We wanted the windows to be quick to install, that integrated with the rest of the building envelope, and that won’t break the bank. Given that they are a big investment, these windows would need to last a long time. Finally, we wanted windows that didn’t cause undue environmental harm during their life cycle, whether from material extraction, manufacture, disposal, or as a hazard to birds.
The design and placement would determine what the buildings would look like. At the same time, the windows would have a significant impact on energy efficiency and comfort. As windows are technologically complex building component that can make a big energy, as well as aesthetic, contribution to a building, we wanted to take advantage of this technology to make the buildings more comfortable and more energy efficient while reducing maintenance.
We decided on ENERGATE® windows, a wood-aluminum design combining the advantages of both materials. Wood has a high warm and fuzzy quotient, long architectural history and low carbon footprint. Traditional problems with wooden windows included the potential for decay when exposed to harsh weather and sunlight, this were addressed by cladding the exterior part of the frame with aluminum providing protect and excellent weathering resistance.
A factory visit was undertaken to the manufacturing facilities in Germany. Here, we saw windows produced using the most modern, energy-saving facilities. When it came to specification the timber frames were PEFC certified, used solvent free water-based paints and had impressive U-value certification, certified by accredited testing facilities, and for ecological reasons glass was only filled using argon gas. This innovative window technology has helped us lower the energy usage of the buildings, demonstrates ecological responsibility while increasing the living comfort of the inhabitants.