Fenestration Focus March/April 2023April 12th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
Hitting the Mark: With ES7 Rapidly Approaching, It’s About More Than Just Product Performance
By Doug Hauck and John Ryba
Energy Star 7.0 criteria goes into effect in just a few months. By now it’s likely you’ve chosen the path you’ll take to meet the new requirements for your products. But settling upon an effective design strategy for products is just one part of the challenge posed by the new label. Now, it’s time to start making your new Energy Star 7.0-rated units.
Indeed, some products that meet the new criteria have already been rolling off production lines, as early certification was immediately available when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the rules last October. Now, when this fall approaches, manufacturers must be fully ready to efficiently and effectively make high-quality Energy Star units on a consistent basis. With this in mind, following are some considerations.
Taking Aim at Triples
Energy Star 7.0 is expected to spur greater adoption of triple-pane insulating glass units (IGUs) in the U.S. While they’ve been common in Canada for a number of years, manufacturers who’ve opted to go this route to meet the new labeling criteria here in the U.S. could find themselves making triples for the first time.
Making traditional triples inherently adds more work to your production process. It also consumes more raw materials, accounting for the extra glass and spacer you’ll need to build the units. Finally, triples are larger and heavier, and you may need to make accommodations for how your glazing system will handle them. Alongside conventional triples are thin triples. Here, the manufacturing process broadly compares to that of making traditional double-pane insulating glass (IG) and won’t require you to reconfigure your existing glazing system.
Whether you’ve opted for conventional triple-pane IG or thin triples, such units will require new thinking and strategy. Quality is also critical. To get the most from your efforts, be sure you’re using a spacer product well suited to optimizing the performance potential and production efficiency of triples. Such efficiency gains can recoup some of the extra time that making triples requires.
Rather than moving to triples, you may have opted to revamp your Energy Star 7.0 product design entirely, with the incorporation of a higher-performing framing system. This move likely will allow you to remain with high-quality doubles and sets you up well to make additional improvements in the future should they become necessary. But starting production with a
new system is no simple task, and you’ll inevitably run into some questions upon start up. Robust technical support from your framing supplier can be invaluable here, especially as you work to hit the right performance figures, reliably, with every window that comes off the line. A supplier who can help with testing, troubleshooting and quality assurance can make a big
difference. In fact, solid technical support throughout your entire manufacturing process—whether it’s specific to your new Energy Star units or otherwise— can help you uncover a range of new manufacturing
efficiencies. That’s important, as you try to maintain your competitive edge in a market where demand is ever-changing.
Doug Hauck is the senior technical services representative and John Ryba
is the technical services manager for Quanex Corp.
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