Beyond the Label
by Deb Callahan
February 8th, 2022

Is it Time to Remind People that Windows Aren’t Optional?

We work in an invisible field. All the science and advancements in the fenestration industry are to make products as energy efficient as possible – while also being as unnoticeable as possible. People want the benefits of a wall but the views, ventilation, daylighting, and other advantages of an open space. People notice when the quality of a product is poor; conversely, the better a product is, the less it is seen.

I don’t think everyone in the green building is aware of how efficient a quality window can be – or how important they are for the well-being of building occupants.

Where am I Getting this Impression?

There are always people in the green building network who propose minimal windows to maximize efficiency. Perhaps the greatest, most egregious example of this (which ended up going viral) led to an architect at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), resigning in protest over the planned massive dormitory with very few windows. The Guardian actually called the project “a torture experiment.”

For those who missed the news, this mega dorm was designed by nearly blind, 97-year-old, not-an-architect Charlie Munger, with the stipulation that he will only donate towards the construction IF his design is followed. The 11-story building will house up to 4,500 students in a building in which 94% of the rooms are in the interior of the building and have no windows.

UCSB is moving forward with the plan, despite the negative press and potential negative effects on residents living in a windowless space.

In addition, windows are generally relegated to optional status for green building certification programs. Too little weight is placed on the importance of fenestration and how performance can affect other aspects, from occupant comfort to HVAC load.

#Why Windows Matter

The fenestration industry can combat this invisibility by being more vocal about the advantages of windows, the advancements in technology, and how product ratings can improve building performance estimates. Throughout 2022, NFRC will be partnering with other organizations to launch the #WhyWindowsMatter campaign.

We invite all interested parties within the industry to use the same phrase with information on how windows are not optional. NFRC will highlight:

  • The importance of ratings;
  • Mental benefits of windows;
  • Physical benefits of windows;
  • Comfort;
  • Importance of installation;
  • How old and/or broken windows affect comfort;
  • The cost benefits of quality windows; and
  • New technologies;
  • We are also considering starting a working group to coordinate messages throughout the year. If you would like to be involved, please contact NFRC Director of Communications and Outreach, Robin Merrifield at rmerrifield@nfrc.org. If we work together as an industry, we can create a campaign like “Got Milk” from the dairy industry. We hope you’ll join us!

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