This week, the Center for Sustainable Research (CSBR), in conjunction with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the Alliance to Save Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy, officially launched www.CommercialWindows.org - a state-of-the-art website that provides critical information and performance data on the energy efficiency, interior environment, and technical considerations that influence commercial window design decisions.
According to LBNL research, it is estimated that windows are responsible for 39% of commercial heating energy use and 28% of commercial cooling energy use - almost 1.5% of all total U.S. energy consumed.
CommercialWindows.org features a number of comprehensive resources including a first-of-its-kind Façade Design Tool - an interactive, online tool that allows users to choose, early in the design process, various conditions for windows to rank and compare different performance outcomes. The site also features performance data, design guidance, information on window technologies, and case studies with examples of the various uses of high-performing glass and façade systems.
"We need to make significant progress in reducing energy and associated carbon emissions in commercial buildings and windows play a key role," said John Carmody, CSBR director and building-related research pioneer with 30-plus years of building design and construction experience. "The Facade Design Tool helps designers analyze window and shading device options quickly and easily early in the design process when they can have the greatest impacts."
The Façade Design Tool allows designers and decision-makers to compare design strategies for orientation, glazing, window area, and shading - for offices and schools in hot, cold and mixed climates - without the need for detailed inputs. After choosing a location, building type, and orientation, the Tool's input design parameters let users design a façade system and quickly get performance outcomes for energy, peak electric demand, carbon, daylight, glare, and thermal comfort. These performance outcomes help the decision-maker to understand the environmental and human comfort impacts of various design decisions early and to facilitate integrated design considerations during design development.
The Façade Design Tool's simulated results were generated using COMFEN, a tool to be used early in the design process to model comparative designs to help determine the optimal window design. COMFEN uses a graphical user interface with an Energy Plus engine providing performance results. COMFEN can be downloaded from LBNL's web site at: windows.lbl.gov/software.
"By focusing on the façade with tools such as the Facade Design Tool and COMFEN, we can provide accurate relative comparisons between a wide array of real world products," said Green Building Strategy Manager for Apogee Enterprises, Mr. Paul LaBerge. "This provides the users, ourselves, architects, and engineers, with actionable information on glazing and façade performance, and that can inform whole building simulation where that might be pursued by others."
To learn more about CSBR and their work to transform the built environment in ways that provide for the ecological, economic and social needs of the present without compromising those of the future, visit them online at www.csbr.umn.edu.