The big question. You want to save energy. You’ve got some money to spend. Where should you spend it?
What caught our eye? Windows. Everyone loves a new window, particularly one that doesn’t let in drafts. Windows can account for 10 to 30 percent of heat loss in multifamily residential buildings and replacing them can significantly reduce these losses (although the payback can be lengthy). There are many things your building can do to conserve energy, and experts say that windows are not the optimal place to start, but…
Be smart. All windows do need to be replaced eventually, and there are many things to consider, including frame material, style, operation type (tilt-and-turn, double-hung, etc), thermal and acoustic performance, and, of course, price. But before you start the process, you need to learn what is going on in Europe.
Say what? Way more energy conservation, that’s what. Europe has embraced the passive-house construction standard, which leaves LEED in the dust. It’s now making headway in the U.S., and it can reduce a building’s energy consumption by 50 percent or more. Windows are only one part of it, but an important part. The one detail about passive-house windows is that you probably can’t find an American manufacturer making them. And that’s why Fentrend was formed.
Behind the scenes. In April 2015, four people with architecture, real estate development, tech, and passive-house consulting backgrounds got together to create a company that connects European passive-house window manufacturers with the American market. Today, they are working with about 90 European and American manufacturers. Recommended as a resource by the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, and one of two winners of New York University’s “smart cities” Urban Future Competition in 2016, Fentrend works as an intermediary between the window manufacturer and client and earns its revenue from the manufacturer when a purchase is made.
Here’s how it works.
• You call Fentrend, a representative will ask you questions about your budget, time frame, any research or price quotes you already have. You may be asked to measure a typical window and send a picture of it. Then, Fentrend will get a quote from one manufacturer as a starting point to establish a budget.
• Next is a discussion about whether this is a feasible project for the building. If the preliminary quote is too high, value engineering might help. Fentrend will tinker with glazing type, frame components, acoustic standards, finishes, and a host of other details. Doing so can lower costs. Fentrend will help you understand the trade-offs.
• If you want to move forward, Fentrend will send a person to measure your windows. The company will bid out the project and provide a Project Comparison Report, which lays out window details, project time frames, and budget. If you want to go ahead with the project, Fentrend will connect you with the window manufacturer of your choice to make your purchase.
Yes, but. What about installation if you buy a European window? Andy Huh, a co-founder of Fentrend, says it can happen one of three ways: the window company may have an American installer it works with; the installation is subcontracted to a third party by the manufacturer; or Fentrend can recommend an installer.
Bottom line. “Europe is at least 10 years ahead of the U.S. in terms of building innovation,” Huh says. “Because they have a more stringent building energy code, their products perform a lot better than most of those in the U.S. Some emerging European companies are hungry to enter the U.S. market, so they provide extremely competitive prices.”
For more information, visit Fentrend.com, or call 646-655-0315